Writing: A Revolutionary Patience

Evidence of spring...from bulbs I planted long before

At last, evidence of spring…from bulbs I planted long before

Spring has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. That means drizzle, but also the occasional moment of sun. We rush outside like crazy people and bask, though briefly.

Seeing the new growth emerge reminds me of what’s happening in my life as a writer.

It used to be nothing. I wrote only when I wasn’t teaching, maybe 13 weeks a year. Eh, you can see how many books that plan has produced.

But in January I took myself in hand, joined Jeff Goins’ 500 Word Challenge Facebook group, and committed to write. Yes, write, every single day. No matter that I felt brain dead, or inadequate, or wiped out from teaching. I was going to produce words, even stupid words or mindless rambling words, daily.

The gardener in me knew that week by solitary week, a book would grow. Okay, so I’ve missed some days, but I’ve plugged along. This weekend I will finish yet another chapter. That’s six chapters beyond my gloomy January start. I need 12 to 15 more—or maybe more like 20—before Darcy By Any Other Name can be released.

Robin says I’ve been learning discipline. That seems awfully basic, but she’s right. I’m learning to work it, consistently and stubbornly, even though there just isn’t time.

“I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.” (Ann Lamott)

For ducks, I’ll just mention that you can find the in-progress version of Darcy By Any Other Name at Beyond Austen, a free online fiction forum. The published book will be different, of course, since at this point I’m experimenting with various ideas. But it’s a fun, unexpected premise.

And, yes, I know. This is me, writing Darcy, a thing I thought would never happen. But then, this is anything but the typical Darcy story.

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Writing: A Revolutionary Patience

  1. Robin Helm

    Yes, you are writing Darcy – but not just rehashing him. You have taken Austen’s character and remained true to the original while putting him in a completely different situation. Even when I’m surprised by his actions or comments, I realize that those are definitely things Fitzwilliam Darcy would do or say. Kudos on your wonderful story. I predict that it will be a huge hit.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Thanks for the kind words, Robin. One thing I have learned is that the market is fickle. The Austen world has seen everything from a vampire Darcy to a rock star Darcy. But a rollicking Prince and the Pauper comedy? The verdict’s out on that one!

      Like

      Reply
    1. Laura Hile Post author

      I shared on my LH blog a few weeks ago a quote from C.S. Lewis that was a stunner. We think as we write. That is to say, writing is an aid to thinking clearly. Not the other way around.

      This is for me both revolutionary and freeing. I don’t have to come to the blank page knowing what I’m going to say. I formulate my thoughts by putting down the words. And then, I look at what I’ve written and can rearrange it. How encouraging is that?

      Like

      Reply
    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Thanks, Meredith. I can barrel right along during the summer, but that isn’t enough. What John Updike said is all too true:

      “There’s a danger if you don’t move it along steadily that you’ll kind of forget what it’s about, so you must keep in touch with it.”

      (John Updike on daily writing routines)

      Like

      Reply
  2. Debbie Simorte

    Yay, Laura! Spring IS coming, and so are the words for those of us learning the discipline. You will get your book written and you know it now. And now, I must call a friend and ask for my copy of Bird by Bird back!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Laura Hile Post author

      I’m like a kid with a star chart, Debbie. Every day I write 500 I put an X. “Don’t break the chain,” I tell myself. You all in the 500 Words Challenge group help me stay on task.

      It’s like the ten-minute free writes I make my students do. Two rules: no stopping, no backtracking (to edit) for ten minutes.

      The first five are usually about getting words onto the page, but after that something uncanny happens. The creative mind begins to churn out material. Like gems dug out of a mine, treasures appear. Dialog, descriptions, observations, snark responses. Suddenly I’m into a scene and I’m writing it.

      Like

      Reply
  3. ljandrie57

    I heat the words “the Northwest” and my heart expands with memories of my childhood. I am so glad this challenge has been such a positive experience for you. It is about discipline for sure but it is also about risk taking as is any revolution worth being a part of.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Sunny today … that photo is from my yard a few minutes before I posted.

      This is our “teaser spring break.” You remember how those work. The weather turns glorious for a day or two, and everyone goes a little mad. Visions of warm weather activities well up—hiking or swimming or having cookouts or lying in a hammock with a book.

      And then spring break comes… and it rains. OH well.

      Like

      Reply
      1. ljandrie57

        When you think that I took my walk down icy sidewalks where a 20 minute walk took over 30 just to keep firm footing, that sounds lovely. What I love is the wild abandon of types of flowers that grow there. And the fern fronds and mosses.

        Like

        Reply
        1. Laura Hile Post author

          Before moving here, I never realized there were so many shades of green. I’ve heard that said of Ireland, which sounds romantic and mystical. But there is a vast difference between the winter green of the lawn and that same lawn at mid-March.

          I too love the ferns and mosses. And I tell myself that it’s the drizzle that keeps them growing.

          If I went outside on the (cement) patio, ljandrie, I’d slip on the crop of moss that is growing there. 🙂

          Thanks for stopping by!

          Like

          Reply
          1. ljandrie57

            ljandie (aka Linda Andres in the Challenge), I grew up in the shadow of Mt. St. Helen’s before the blast. Water trickling in rivelets across hiking trails just came with the territory. My youngest brother has moved back there right into the rain forest areas of the Olympic Pennisula but for me it is a distant dream of childhood right now — one I will need to go visit soon.

            Like

            Reply
  4. Gayle Mills

    I think writing is like dieting: you know you need to do it, but it’s very easy not to. I’m glad you’ve found a routine that works for you. It’s a win-win: you will have another book to publish and we will have another great story to read. So, I hope your writing diet goes well; I hope you shed tons of ideas onto paper; I hope it becomes a way of life that’s sustainable.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Sustainable, you say? Girlfriend, the only way of life that’s “sustainable” for me is reading books by a favorite author, in the shade, in a hammock, eating chocolates (or else nachos), while being caressed by a balmy breeze. Without flies.

      Or reading in front of a roaring fire while rain or snow pelts down outside.

      Like

      Reply
  5. mickholt

    I think it’s great that you’ve knock out nearly 6 chapters. I am still working through too many ideas but there is no question, and I think you’d agree, that the 500 Word Project has been an immeasurable help.
    Now, go spin some acorns and #dontbreakthechain

    Like

    Reply
    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Ha, well, I celebrated a little too early, Mick. Chapter 13 is roughed out, but not *quite* finished. It’s the daily acorn-spinning that gets us there; thanks for urging us on. I rely far too much on not breaking the chain of Xs on my calendar, but no matter. Word by word, page by page!

      Like

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Brighter Darker Day | Pushing the Bruise

Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s