Sunday, April 3, 2016

How do you spend your Sundays?

It struck me just now how quiet my weekends are. Is everyone's weekends so tame?

Like most writers, I have a day job. I try to write or edit for two hours on weekdays (don't always meet that goal, of course) and save the weekends for deep dives. You may have read that I recently sold a book but I'm not working on it at the moment, waiting for my partner to get back to me with a reworked outline. So at the moment, I'm working on another project, an epic fantasy with a twist that's been knocking around the back of my mind for the better part of a year.

My colleagues at work seem to have more exciting, or at least more interesting, weekends than me. They visit friends or go on local trips to state parks or petting farms with their children. There's always the weekend soccer games and errand runs. They seem to know what's going on around town, the best restaurants, the hot local bands.

For me, and a lot of writers I suspect, the weekends are for writing. I take time out only for the absolutely necessary: grocery shopping, laundry, walking the dog. Cooking up a big pot of something for weekday dinners, making sandwiches for lunches for me and the husband to eat during the week.

I'm not telling you about my sorry weekends for pity. Occasionally I'm asked for advice on the writing life; how do you make the jump to being a published writer? The answer is invariably that you have to put in the time writing. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard as my friend Alan Orloff likes to say. It doesn't matter if you've sold twenty books or none. It takes an amazing amount of time to turn out writing that deserves to be read.

It also pays to be reminded occasionally what your fellow writers are going through. This article in the NY Times is less about poet Kevin Young's office than the fact that he has piles of unfinished work lining the walls, waiting for him to figure out how to make the piece work. Rarely does a piece emerge in the writer's head, fully formed, and honestly I wouldn't trust it if it did. The truth of a piece takes simmering; stories are like soups or stews, needing time to fully mature. I have unfinished novels that have sat around patiently for years waiting for me to figure out why it's not hanging together--just as The Taker did for a decade. Writing, it seems, is not for the impatient.