Over Commitment & Time Poor.

It feels like forever since my last post. So much going on. It’s one of those summers when I find it hard to find a moment in between commitments. There has not been any time to free write. My morning pages have gone by the way side. 

In one instant, I had no commitments other than work and home life … and then in the next moment, I find myself overcommitted. Overcommitment for me is having more than one thing to focus on besides my work and my home life. 

 Right now, I am part of a book group, an Artist’s Way Creative Group and now also a writing class. The first and last are ones I have had on a list to join for quite some time. I have put the middle one on a brief hold because of the writing class. But even so, the work that each requires for preparation makes my personal time feel a bit smooshed.

If there is one thing I don’t want to have happen is a mediocre effort at the one thing that I enjoy and which I hold most dear: My Writing Time.

My book group is taking me on literary journeys that I would otherwise not have experienced. It’s opening me up to new acquaintances. It is exposing me to some good and not so good writing. Reading offers a chance to study writing. So this is a plus. And, so far, I am greatly enjoying he process. What I had not counted on is that the book selections of 300+ pages, and in some ways, the literary density of each selection has caused me to pause and consider sentences and paragraphs more intentionally.  This has resulted in a slower reading process than I had anticipated. The current selection is The Wilderness World of John Muir- a collection of essays by author John Muir, edited by Edwin Way Teale. I have been reading the book for about a week and I am only around 70 pages into it. I have covered his boyhood in Scotland, his family’s emigration to America and settling in Wisconsin, and his young adulthood foray into invention- quite clever that Muir. I am enthralled by the language and delighted by his adventures. But it is going so slowly.   

While I read that book, I am in a writing class which is taught at a marvelous writing center in the city.  The class is called: Book In A Month.    In about six weeks time, we are to all have a first draft. I confess that since I already have my first draft, I signed up for this class to get unstuck and learn how to properly write a book. The class is really an encouraging session to help motivate us to write. I likely needed to sign up for an actual MFA Course in order to get the information I was seeking. I am a complete novice when it comes to novel writing. The truth is what I really needed to know was proper framework, the bones of the novel- the parameters. What constitutes a chapter? How do I indent? How do I break up the paragraphs? How do I move from one point of view to another smoothly? Is it ok to have multiple points of view? When should I have the various plot points show up – what are those three parts to the novel again? What am I doing? Who do I think I am?   I have a book (in fact many books) that can help me, so I am likely just fine.  It’s just that I was hoping for a more formal setting within which I could learn how to better write and propel me towards authorship one day.

What I have on the page for my novel thus far is around 55,000 words. They flew out of me in about a month during NaNoWriMo 2015. I am now at the stage where I am looking at all those words and trying to figure out how to better shape them into a bonafide novel. The real deal. Something worth reading. Something worth pitching! And, I need guidance on whether to stick with the original style of Historical Fiction and if it is prudent to keep or remove the element of murder mystery within the covers. My novel is basically macabre episode from Foyle’s War set in Norway during the Nazi occupation. Women are showing up dead on the shoreline of the Oslo Fjord- women who had disappeared from ordinary life and presumed deeply involved in the underground movement. It’s a piece of fiction- I am not aware of any such murders having actually occurred during this time period. A woman showed up in my novel during the flow of writing through NaNoWriMo 2015. She has copper curls, she is lying in a bay in the fjord, naked. The man who placed her there is struggling with his secret. Is it inappropriate to include a murder mystery within a serious topic such as the occupation of a country within a non-fiction historical context?

In my writing class, there are 19 of us. For our remaining four classes, the class size has been divided up into 4-5 people each session reading about 7 minutes worth of their novel and getting 7 minutes worth of critique. I am scheduled for two weeks from now. Perhaps during that session, I will showcase a bit of the mix in my story and see what they think. What frustrates me is that I don’t want to continue shaping my novel if I am completely off-base with my premise and development to date.
So, I procrastinate and do other things; for instance, read about John Muir. I have around 280 pages to go!

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