Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In the Mood to Write? By Michele Ashman Bell

I haven't stopped to smell the roses lately. I haven't even stopped long enough to see them I've been in such a whirlwind. So, my blog will not be wonderfully profound (not that any of mine have been) or eloquently written (again, not that any of mine have been), or even that insightful (hopefully one or two have been).

Instead, I've decided to write about something that readers will hopefully find interesting, writers will be able to relate too, and others will shake their heads at and think, "What an odd bunch readers and writers are."

As are the lives of most women, especially those within the LDS church, my life is FULL. I have two very big church callings (the Lord's trying to keep me out of trouble - it's working), I have extremely involved and busy children, and the mere fact alone of being a wife and mother pretty much fills in any spare nano-seconds I have.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, I have been trying to get a novel written. I don't even know how long it's been since I started this thing, I just know that anything and everything that could possibly get in the way of writing has prevented me from making much, if any, progress.

Well . . . I finally finished the book, and all in all, am pleased with the way it turned out. I accomplished what I set out to accomplish and I think readers will enjoy it. But I'll be honest, it was extremely difficult to write because life kept getting in the way. And now, as I look back, I have to wonder, (I would love some author input on this part), each time I sat down to write and was either so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open, or actually fell asleep; each time I had a free hour to write, even though I wasn't particularly in the mood to write but knew it was then or never; each time I was in the middle of writing and the phone rang, my family needed me, my ward needed me, the school needed me, or umpteen other interruptions occurred; how much different would the end result have been, had I been fully awake, completely in the mood and totally uninterrupted? Would the story have been different? Would the characters have been different? Would that have made it better, or worse, or just different? I actually would love to know the asnwer to this because I've been thinking about it a lot and I really don't know the answer.

The funny thing is, sometimes I actually will read through something I've written and not even remember writing it. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised that it's good, and sometimes horrified that it's so bad.

So the question is, is the story going to happen regardless of how I feel when I sit down to write, or is there some mental mind-set that needs to be achieved before I put my fingers on the keyboard so I know that I can write the best possible story I can write?

The scary part is, I don't think "ideal" writing situations will ever exist for me. I will never ignore my family when they need me. I will probaby continue to stay up late and get up early, because I've done so for my entire adult life. And, I will always have a church calling that I will devote my time too.

So, either I'm doomed, or I'm like a lot of other writers who are just trying to keep those plates spinning and keep balance in their lives.

In the mood or not, I'm a writer. I write because I can't not write. Even though my life is crazy, somehow having the outlet of sitting at my computer and creating, keeps me sane.

Has any of this made sense? I would LOVE to hear what you think.


Annette Lyon said...

Makes perfect sense. I've been there, done that. Many, many times.

Anna Buttimore said...

Yes, yes, and thrice yes! I know exactly how you feel, struggling to get coherent words down at 1am and wondering whether it's even go to seem worth it when I reread it the next day. It needed saying, so well said.

Cheri J. Crane said...

You've hit the nail on the head, Michele. Or as I heard it said once years ago: "A writer writes." For me, it's a release, and I feel better when I write. But my life is a whirling dervish lately and I don't have a lot of time to write. So I work it in when I can, hoping for the best.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I'm late weighing in on this, but you know, Michele, I think the story is the same whether or not the circumstances are ideal. And those times when we come across a bad passage, well, that's when we're grateful we caught it before turning it in. I love the Nora Roberts quote that says you can fix a bad page, but not a blank one. (She's probably not the only one to have said that, but she's the one I remember saying it).

At any rate, I think the key is just getting it out and onto the computer/paper. Then what needs fixing can be fixed. As for writing time, the family should be allowed to TEXT ONLY in the case of an emergency. All other calls will be ignored. Most things that aren't emergencies can wait for an hour, you know?

On second thought, I'm now envisioning my poor kids trying to text me with a broken arm or something. "Please Mom, come get me!"