Monday, December 3, 2012

have no fear

Anyone who knows me knows that I love winter.

In my opinion, whoever invented snow deserves praise and glory forever and ever. Amen. I mean, who doesn't enjoy a "snow day" once in a while?

This is a great time of the year, especially for those among us who thrive on chaos. No sooner is Thanksgiving a pleasant memory, than we begin our gift-wrapping, card-sending, cookie-baking preparations for Christmas.
The trouble is that takes time...time away from the daydreaming, word-searching, plot-twisting devotion we need inorder to write. Which is why I've taken to jotting things down on the back of cashier receipts, cancelled envelopes, and on the back of my to-do lists...

...wherever and whenever they come to me. Because I'm slow at writing and at this time of the year I don't have time to fritter away in front of my laptop waiting for inspiration to strike.

So...when I carved out a couple of days last week to go to Pittsburgh, it was just One. More. Thing. But I was optimistic about it. The drive takes about four hours depending on weather and traffic...

four uninterupted hours I expected to spend in my head, revising a short story I'm writing, plotting out the next couple of scenes in the novel I seem to be stuck on, and reflecting on the memoir I'm starting to write. Instead, my monkey mind scampered from party planning, to holiday decorating, to cookie baking...anything but story telling. Not one thing came to me. Not one line of dialogue. Not one scenic image. Not one original metaphor. I couldn't have flushed one out if my life depended on it...

...until the drive home. I spent four hours in silence when, for reasons I still cannot fathom, it all came to me. In my mind, I finished the short story and I lined up all the scenes I need to get to the end of my novel.

How does that happen? One day--nothing. The next day--BAM!

The point is that writing requires patience. It can't be forced. But have no fear--when the story is ready, it will come to you. Just when you are about to give up on it, it will drag you, kicking and screaming, back to the keyboard, or to your notebook, or, to a piece of scrap paper, and it will pour itself out. You simply have to be ready for it, open to it, and grateful for it when it happens.

Mary Keeley, an agent at Books & Such Literary Agency, has posted a great piece about this conundrum that you can find here: .

Are you patient with yourself when you write? How do you handle frustration?
"So you see,
imagination needs moodling--
long, inefficient, happy
idling, dawdling and puttering."
--Brenda Ueland--
Next week: What is Christmas without SNOW??


  1. I'd be happy to send you all my winter weather.

  2. Snow is beautiful. I'll really enjoy it when I retire next year from teaching.
    I'm pretty patient with my writing. if something isn't coming to me, I always have twenty other things I can work on until it does.