Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shaping my life

OK, so the exercise comes from Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett.

Think about what you wish for, and imagine how you'd like your life to be in six months, a year, five years from now.  Your age doesn't matter here, especially if you think that you should already have realized your dream or that you're too young to see your dream come tue for a good many years.  Focus on the dream itself.  Envision your future as you'd like to live it.  ... Write about that, down to the type flooring... and teh type of chair you'll sit on.  

Now set your timer for fifteen minutes and write down your ideal scenario.  Be specific: How will yo uspend your days? Do you see yourself writing full-time? What will you write -- stories, articles, essays, poems, novels? Don't skimp on details.

So I'm totally petrified.  This writing business is scary to me.  I feel like I am sending wishes into nowhere, and that I'm wasting my time -- this was never considered a great way to spend my time.  But I also feel like if I don't start soon I'm going to regret it, and people are going to get really tired of me holding forth just for the sound of my own voice.

So what I want is to establish a certain seriousness for myself in which I actually make scheduled time to write each day.  I'd like to treat my projects with professionalism and dedication, the way Nicole Cabrera is demonstrating on her Facebook page.  I'd like to write with purpose at least a little bit every day.  I want to create a whole project, outline, planning, and all, taking the craft and construction of my fiction seriously, and put it all together with a fluency and creativity and originality that is just mine.  Then I want to send it into the world.

I want to call myself a writer in public and have some evidence that I'm not just slapping a fancy name on my haphazard, on-call life.  I want my office to be neat and my table clear so that I can focus.  (Four minutes down and I'm feeling very, very visible.  This is terrifying.  I am so exposed). 

What else do I want?  Just some empty space every day or every other day to sit down and write without my stuff getting disturbed.  What do I want to write?  MOstly fiction, but I would like to write a few articles or something that could be published in a shorter span of time, partlly for the exercise of getting things down on paper, but also for the... what's that word... legitimizing effect that being in print would give me.  And I want that legitimizing effect for myself, to reinforce my sense that I am entitled to do this work, and that it is worthy and not selfish, and because I want to be in that Great Conversation that I've been listening to for all these years.

I want to write Middlemarch, is what I want to do. 

I'm not totally sure I realized that that is what I'm aiming for, but now that I admit it, it feels true.  I love the craftedness of Middlemarch, the control that Eliot had to have over her characters and her story to get it all to come out right in the end.  I love how richly she made it sound like she actually knew what she was talking about (but what do I know I live 130 years later).  I am worried that I don't know so much, and that I don't know so many different kinds of people living so many different ways... but then again I think I do sort of have access to that, perhaps not to the extent offered by the cultures in the United States, but perhaps to the extent that Eliot experienced diversity. 

And perhaps I'm selling myself short.  I mean, my project that I've been chewing on about the forum certainly has the potential to do that, even if I'm thinking of it more as an Olive Kitteredge project.  (Nine minutes down and I"m feeling a little better, although this journaling business reminds me uncomfortably of high school and college blathering).  In fact I think there is somewhat more diversity represented on the Forum than I know what to do with, and I don't have any sense of what kind of tone I want to nail down (but a person can work through that, duh) and I'm worried that "The Public" will call me out for being an assuming ignoramus or worse if I try to capture this.  But after all what I want to capture isn't so much a way of life as one way of seeing a certain set of consequences.  And my own point of view is the only one that matters, since if I were lucky enough to publish this it would be my name on the cover.

Which brings me to:  Do I even want my name on the cover?  Would I still be welcome at all our family homes if I publish the way I want to and the way I ought to?  But I'm getting ahead of myself... First I have to write.

Which brings me back to the original question.  What do I want my life to look like in six months?  Well, pretty much how it does now, except that I take an hour or two every day to get words on the paper, and that they are put on that paper with purpose, not just as the Dear Diary blathering of a bored stay at home mom.  Which I don't think I really am.  The purpose of all this is to go from being a stay at home mom to a work at home mom, and ultimately to have an actual career that requires of me some of what I have that hasn't been used so much lately.  (Fourteen minutes; now for the big finish!)

OK, well, today was the first day of the next six months, and let's just see how I do.  Hello, cruel world.