Blog Post #30
Welcome once again to another installment of I tell you about the writing I haven’t been doing but pretend to be really hopeful about my prospects because I’m editing or outlining and that counts under the same “productivity” umbrella, doesn’t it?
The Writing Front
Remember how chill I was about the word counts from March? It’s because by the time I had gotten around to writing that post I had already hit some 8,000 words for the month. Even by the end of it I have not hit the actual quota of 16,438, but for someone who only wrote five days last month I punched out a lot of words. Only five days? Yes, only five days, and I cranked out just shy of 10,000 words. Which makes sense when you think about NaNoWriMo. When writing at that speed I could in theory hit the challenge goal in 25 days. Maybe I’ll actually try writing a bit every day during November instead of like what was it, five thousand in one sitting on the final night? Oh, alright, I’ll give you some pretty bars to look at.
At first glance, that seems sad. Really? Only 63%? That wouldn’t even BE a passing grade in school. However, when reviewing my old posts, I noticed that the best I managed was 40% of my yearly goal. If I manage to at least stay on par with the 63% of the goal every month, I’ll still say I kicked last year’s writing in the teeth.
The Reading Front
Reading About Writing Business
Yeah…about that…sorry, this is like the month where a bunch of social plans have collided, and this has taken a back seat. I hope to report that by the next update post I will have finally finished reading How to Market a Book. I went to the Art Institute of Chicago this month. I’m not sorry. I found new paintings that made me feel things, and eventually those feels will end up in stories, I’m sure.
Reading Challenge 2016
For the month of May, the book we choose to read should be ‘a book based on a true story’. I asked Jessica B. if that would include a memoir, specifically a memoir of the craft. After weighing the options, she gave me the green light…and the book I chose to read for this month’s challenge. Thank Chuck for writing friends. Good friends will let you borrow from their closet; best friends let you borrow from their bookshelves.
On Writing by Stephen King
I picked it up once upon a time while visiting Jessica years ago, but never got around to picking it back up again and finishing it (side note, does this mean it also counts as my March ‘bottom of your ‘to-read’ pile’ challenge?). After spending I don’t want to remember how many hours searching through all the lists the Internet could give me of book based on true stories, I finally found this. Jessica lent it to me right before we went to go see Captain America: Civil War (Bucky, I have a hug and a plum for you), and I was finally set for another month’s challenge.
I read the many Forwards during a lunch break. I believe that first Saturday or Sunday of the month I settled into bed with a cup of Earl and On Writing. Reading in earnest though still worn from the weekend, I made it all the way to page 74.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those types that once I pick up a book, especially before bed, I keep telling myself only one more chapter, and then somehow the sun is in the sky because who knew that dawn came so fast even when you aren’t sleeping and oh, that means I really have to get out of bed and start my day that hasn’t technically ended yet. Oops. But then, on page 74, I read a line, well, technically a few lines, that took me by surprise for a multitude of reasons.
One, at page 74, King is still in his recap of memories that were the foundation of his life, memories that may have shaped who he is as a writer. You wouldn’t think in the middle of memories he’d write something that reflected something very deeply in other writers and instead stick to things more personal to his own situation, and yet, he broke out of that for just the right bit.
Second, the sharpness with which those words hit me, I had to put in a bookmark (just a corner torn from some scrap paper that I happened to find), set the book on my chair, and let it alone for a few days. My eyes kept sliding to the book as I went about my daily activities, and my mind kept going back to the words, repeating them like a mantra. I couldn’t go back to it, couldn’t read anymore. Not yet. It still cut too much to even think of the words.
For some readers they find a few lines here and there, that just tilt the world just enough to make them have to get up, walk around, look at a wall, or make a cup of tea before they can carry on with the story. I have had read other lines like that in stories. The lines that are like for me tend to favor sentences that are well-crafted, where the words don’t just accurately surmise the situation but also twist and lilt like poetry. I usually need to take a moment to pause to pay respect to how long that line must have taken to produce just so. And then I wonder if the writer simply made it up on the fly even though it’s breaking my mind.
The third reason this hit me so hard was the fact that King’s words were so deceivingly simple, and I think, possibly the kind of sentences he didn’t look over again and again and tinker with until it sounded just right. Unless he did just to make them seem that so straightforward.
“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Usually just believing is enough.”
Sometimes, it’s not the crafting or the lilting that cuts you. They were the simplest of words, and yet they told nothing more or less than the story, nothing more or less than the truth. It’s been days, and the truth of this has yet to leave me unsettled every time I reflect on it.
The more I think about why I write, the more reasons I tend to find. I know I seem to be picking reasons up like flowers along the road and adding them to some sort of mental vase so I can look at them later to remind myself but it’s because when no one believes in you the way you wish they would and you have to learn how to believe in yourself as a writer when you’re only twelve or twenty eight, having these ‘mental flowers’ are sometimes the only motivation you have to hold onto.
I think I like writing because there is that hope that one day I will shake someone to the core of who they are as I have been shaken. One day, I will happen, the way God happens in the Old Testament, and I will upend this fictional reader’s whole world with the simple lines of truth that I have written. I like the idea of hitting my readers with the force of Revelations. I crave something biblical like that.
Love and Lightning,
-M. L. Trumbull
Current Music: “Apocalypse Please” by Muse