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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The "Technical" Writer - originally posted 01-30-11



I've never been a big fan.


But, I got frustrated one night. For years, I've been calling myself a writer - and technically, I am. I am a technical writer. And I'm good at it. I've won awards. I've been hired at phenomenal rates. I've been courted by some of the most amazing places while I'm still working at an amazing place. There's art and creativity to what I do and generally, I'm given a lot of leeway.

But, the kind of writing that calls to me, is not this kind of writing. Instead, it's the same kind of writing that, even though I adore it, I generally run from it.

It's true. Stupid, but true. I have no idea why. I can sit down to 4 hours of nothing but lovely silence, a house, dripping in solitude. Construction stopped for miles around, children in school or in some playground where the Quiet Game is all the rage, and the animals even in our house are sleeping like they've pulling all-nighters at the Quad with their fraternity brothers and are sleeping one off.


This is what it looks like.

But no.

Suddenly, a yellow light seeps from under a door to my right. It twinkles and beacons. It wiggles its hips and gyrates like I've got a hundred bucks worth of ones in my pocket and it's gotta make rent by morning. That's right. It's my laundry.

Within second, my laundry becomes the most magical and delightful thing in the world and I must go to it instantly.

And don't kind yourselves into thinking, well, ya wench, why don't you just do the friggin' laundry and get on with your work. It doesn't work that way. No, everything - ANYTHING - is a distraction. I get this idea in my head that absolutely everything in the house must be perfect before I can sit down and allow myself to write. Clothes must be cleaned (as previously mentioned), rooms must be neat, beds must be made, walls must be painted, photos must be hung, drawers must be neatly arranged, the pantry must be labelled (and yes, I did stop typing mid-title to go tackle that very project, which ended up not only usurping my 4 hour window, but the following 3 days).

I've asked around to my other writer friends and apparently, I'm no different. We all do this on one level or another.

So, since this is not a mental disease or device that I can just wash away with two tablets of the latest drug and some water - at least that I'm aware of - I decided to start searching for ways to solve this problem. If nothing else, the search in and of itself would be yet another distraction.

One of the first things I did was to hop on the National Novel Writing Month project. I think it goes by a different name, but I'm way too lazy to look it up. (Okay, I looked it up anyway. That took at least 3 minutes, at least, the way I went about it. Suffice it to say, I was so competitive, I did my required 50,000 words way before the deadline, and rather than use the rest of the time to write more or to edit what I did, I just sat back and made plans about shellacking the kitchen cabinets. I didn't actually do the shellacking, I just made the plans.

Anyway, since I did actually get product from the process, I thought, you know there's something twisted about this but it might just work if I started framing my writing around self-imposed deadlines. Now, I don't know if competing against myself is going to work, but we'll find out.

Still, I'm not convinced. I mean, it did take me another 2 months to finally do this (though I had been planning with my friend, Val, to create a professional website for my writing career for the past year - yes, year - and still hadn't gotten further than 1 meeting into the project. [completely not his fault]).

So... now I start this.

Here are the parameters:

I've given myself until the end of 2011 to take my original 50,000+ words and all the scribblings I've done and put them all together and create a viable, solid first draft to send to my agent - the lovely and patient, Amy Rennert; who may actually not even remember my name by this point, considering the roller coaster I've taken her on.

If you want to know why I've given myself so long, I'll start all this by being completely honest.

I have two rare diseases (likely I will talk about them at various points, and by talk, I mean I will whine about them. I'll try not to, but it's hard sometimes. I'll try to edit my whining to a bare minimum, unless it adds to the story.).

I have Wegener's Vasculitus and some rheumatoid arthritis variation that interferes with, you guessed it, my writing.

I have to be realistic. There are going to be days when I won't be physically able to write. But I want to succeed and not make me want to crack my own head open with a iron pan, so I have to be reasonable.

So... journey along with me if you like.

I'm happy to read comments, especially those that are encouraging and even more so, those with questions. If you think I'm lame, please, don't write that. I'm already well aware of that and listen to that internal radio station every day of my life. I think Anne Lamott calls it KFKD, I don't need it in stereo, If it's constructive, I take that back. Ah, crap, I take that back, too. Write what you like. Maybe it'll get you started.

So... here we go. Wanna?

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