Sunday, January 4, 2015
Use this time. The unfortunate Beth Kephart mantra.
Here's what ensued instead. I sat on a round chair with a heating pad on my throbbing shoulder, my toes sticking out of a short blanket. I piled upon my lap the printed and discarded pages of previous novelistic efforts (those pages then flipped, eco-sensitively, to the blank side). I wielded a pen. I sat.
Hours went by.
"So glad to see you working on your novel," my husband said.
I showed him the pages, all those blank sides. "No work here," I said.
"It's all work," he rebutted.
To me, I looked like a sloth. To the pen, a failure. To the patiently a-waiting novel, a lost friend, a lost cause.
But here's the thing: In the midst of all that apparent nothingness, I figured something out. Something about voice. A big thing about plot.
Does that count for a work day? Should I be proud? Would other writer-selves be proud?
This is not a competition.
Still, it sometimes helps to read about the work process of established writers like, say, Gary Shteyngart, who has never had, he says, an issue with writer's block. One novel by one novel (and one fine memoir) his books progressively come. It may seem to us like he is working very fast. But here is how he answers the progress/process question for Noah Charney of The Daily Beast. I like his math (if only I could rise to it).
The entire interview can be found here.
What do you need to have produced/completed in order to feel that you’ve had a productive writing day?
Two to three pages in first draft, five pages in second, seven in third.