Process, and filling up the well

I’ve been beating myself up lately about my lack of writing progress, but in looking through my notes (I’m still using Bear notes, though I did beta test The Archive and liked that a lot) I came across the writing goals I set myself for last year:

- [x] Get paid for something
+ [x] Write first draft of lake story
- [ ] Call down lightning twice more - 4K words, fantasy
- [x] Submit a short story
- [x] Write first scene of novel 2.0
- [x] Finalise submission list & track
+ [x] Set up working doc for rewrite, a la Rudy Rucker
- [x] Write a blog post

Without really realising it, I’ve actually hit most of my goals! The biggest one that I wasn’t sure would ever eventuate (and I hesitated about putting it on the list, as “getting paid for something” is outside my control and therefore something I can’t do, myself, but anyway.) It represents a huge milestone for me, and I’m still pinching myself about it really.

On top of that I received a friendly note from an editor of a speculative fiction publisher to say that they would like to shortlist me for publication, but that it could be a few months more before I hear back. That in itself is great news (moving slowly up out of the slush), and of course publication would be wonderful, but I’m pretty chuffed with just this as well.

But the novel is languishing, and it’s this that I beat myself up about, on a pretty-much near-daily basis. As well as this, I’ve been indulging in some pretty bad habits lately (too much computer gaming, after several years of basically not doing any, not much on the exercise front) and generally feeling like I’m in a rut.

Sitting downstairs in my messy study (which I am desperate to clean up, truth be told), I spotted my old copy of The Artist’s Way, that old touchstone of creatives from the 90s. I certainly went through it back then and it was what spurred me on towards writing a screenplay and going to jazz school (for a while) before heading overseas. And while I hadn’t really read the book much since then, I have been a morning-pages person, on-and-off, ever since. But not much, I’ve realised, since getting pregnant and having my daughter. In fact there hasn’t been a heckuva lot of creative self-care since my late twenties, to be honest.

To whit: I think I ran my well pretty dry there. And I’m trying to fill it back up now. So I’ve picked up The Artist’s Way again and I’m on week two now, and doing morning pages every day before I get out of bed. This morning, I came back from the bathroom to find that Leila had got my notebook and pencil out, and had even turned the page to the next blank one. It seems she’s just as fascinated by the process as I am. And though I do balk at waking up even a minute earlier than I need to, once I’m sitting up in bed and writing, it feels like…coming home. It feels comforting and encouraging and I feel hopeful again. It makes me want to do right by myself. It makes me want to connect to writing as a sort of spiritual practice, a sort of touching the void, inside, out there. I want to contemplate what’s possible in my life, and to break through any negative thinking about can’ts and shouldn’ts and won’ts.

I’m playing the piano again. Printing photos for the scrapbook again (until the yellow ink got blocked and wreaked havoc with my sanity for most of yesterday, but enough about that). Journaling. Feeling the desire to run, slowly building up inside. (Oddly, or perhaps not so odd, I have always run while I’ve been on a regime of morning pages. They seem to go hand-in-hand in my mind.)

I’ve got a whole day ahead of me today: Leila is off after school to play at a friend’s house. I want to feel happy and energised and inspired at the end of the day. I want to work on the book, because as Cameron says, “it is far harder and more painful to be a blocked artist than it is to do the work.”

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