Monday, February 14, 2011
Writing and Reaching
This past week I've turned my focus away from the short articles I've been writing. Writing hubs has been great writing practice, and it's been satisfying to take on projects that I can easily start and finish. While I am still planning to try to write 30 hubs in 60 days, I have switched gears in order to meet a new deadline.
Last week while doing some research for an article about representations of miscarriage in the arts, I came across a call for submissions for an anthology on miscarriage stories. The deadline for submitting to the anthology, which will be published by Australian publisher Mostly for Mothers: February 26. Fortunately I had recently done some pre-writing on this subject for a creative non-fiction contest for Event magazine. I decided I would focus most of my writing time on a personal essay which would be submitted to Mostly for Mothers, knowing I could modify some of what I'd written and incorporate it into a longer non-fiction piece for Event.
This blog, my articles and any other creative writing I've done since the beginning of this year has taken place because of a timely mental shift. I've somehow taught myself to write during the minutes and hours that appear in the day when my kids are busy and happy. I know this is something many writers taught themselves to do at a much earlier stage in their lives than I did; for some, there would be no writing if they didn't learn how to write with whatever time they've been given. Until recently, I let myself not write rather than learn how to do it with the bits of time I've had.
I think part of what's made it easier for me to finally do has been my desire to work on several projects at a time, and commitment to always be working on something. I am an ideas person, and often have up to ten projects in various stages of progress on my dining room table. I am also constantly doing research on something, and if I'm waiting in an office for an appointment, there's bound to be a book in my purse I can read while I wait, which are also useful minutes towards my overall writing process.
Having a number of ideas and pieces on the go at all times ensures that I can pretty much pick up anywhere in my home, and choose whichever one I feel most like working on at that moment, sidestepping writer's boredom. I've also started writing in chunks - that is, writing several pieces on different aspects of one subject (at this time, miscarriage), and this has helped me transition to a personal approach to the same topic fairly easily. Hopefully it will also put me in a good position to meet my anthology deadline.
I've started my draft essay with a feeling of ease (though I would hesitate to call the process easy). I am just simply writing, and not thinking too hard about it. I know what I am working on is a draft, and that my right brain is hard at work coming up with metaphors and new ways of expressing a story I've verbally told over and over again. My left brain will take care of the editing later. Working this way, I find myself with my first draft half finished and roughly 1500 words. I expect that the piece will change dramatically by February 26, but I think I can make the deadline. And even if it isn't accepted, I will feel satisfied for having written it.
This essay is part of a larger "something" I knew I would have to write even as I was going through the experience. Mother's Day will be the second anniversary of the miscarriage I am writing about. If I can write two good-enough-to-submit essays to two separate publishers by the mid-April Event deadline, I will have written toward one of my most hopeful personal goals: to try my best to make something beautiful out of something awful.