So I've finished my reading deprivation week. I didn't do it perfectly. For my freelance job, I had to do research and also a lot of reading of a book in pages so that I could make editorial corrections. In my daily life, I read instructions when I needed to. And I slipped and caught myself reading articles a couple of times, although I stopped by the second or third paragraph.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Probably the hardest part of the reading deprivation came after I posted the Minefield poem last week. I desperately, desperately wanted to read Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy," just to reassure myself that I wasn't the only writer who dared to criticize a parent. But I didn't. I just lived with the tension.
I don't know if it was because of the reading deprivation, but I had an enormously productive week as a fiction writer. Thursday night, I sat down to start a new short story, and I wrote 13.5 pages longhand without stopping. Friday, I typed what I'd done so far and added a page. Yesterday, I finished the draft, and this morning, I tweaked the ending to something I liked better. It is a 6,000 word story, and I wrote it in four days. I don't know yet if it's any good—it's still much too raw to tell and I will need to let it sit for a while and then edit it before I can evaluate whether it's a story that deserves a market or just something I had to do as a writing exercise. But one thing I do know is that this story was one that I psychologically had to write.
One of the things I did recently was to do a sort of reality check. Because of my own particular set of emotional baggage, I've always gotten discouraged about my writing much too easily. Frequently, I've gone for a couple of years at a time without submitting anything to markets or agents. When I look at the number of times I've been published—5 short stories in about 25 years—I get depressed and say to myself, "See, the world isn't interested in what you have to say." But when I look at the numbers from another angle—5 short stories published out of somewhere between 100 and 150 submissions—I suddenly realize that I haven't done so badly after all. If I had been writing 10 to 12 stories a year for the last 25 years instead of 1 or 2, I might have made a name for myself by now.
Which leads me to a question that I've been putting off for some weeks now. I don't know what place this blog will have in my life, considering the direction that my writing is taking. I probably have 10 or 12 hours a week to split between the blog and my fiction, and in a week like this one when I wrote an entire story, I just don't have much time or energy to post here. I have enjoyed the blog, and I am so grateful for the support you all give me as a writer. But no other kind of writing satisfies my heart the way my fiction writing does. (And I can't post my fiction here because most editors of literary journals won't want stories that have already been published on a blog.)
Maybe what I'm doing is just a normal evaluation of the blog; Easter Sunday will be my one-year blogiversary, so maybe this is just an anniversary-related taking stock. Or maybe I'm slowly drifting away from blogging because my priorities are changing. I don't know yet.
As I've been doing this Artist's Way program, a lot of issues and questions keep popping up. And I have a new aphorism I tell myself when that happens: "Don't analyze. Just listen." What I mean is that being coldly analytical has really never helped me decide on a direction for my life. Instead, I just have to listen for the Holy Spirit and my own intuition. I'll know when I need to know, and apparently, it's not a need-to-know priority yet.
So this isn't some kind of grand announcement that my blog is ending. I'm just letting you know the sorts of questions I'm asking.
Until I know for sure what I want to do, I'll keep posting several times a week and reading other blogs when I have time.
Posted by Ruth Hull Chatlien at 2:49 PM