Monday, December 10, 2007

Filling the well....

That sounds dirty. But it's not -- I'm referring to Hemingway's quote about his writing process. He wrote in the morning and then took the afternoon to "fill his well" so he'd be ready to write the next morning. Now, filling the well is something every writer needs to do. We all need to seek out inspiration and ideas and creativity. For Hemingway this meant getting hammered, loading a couple of rifles and going big game hunting. Oddly enough -- I don't think there are many of us out there who still get to do this. Margaret Moore? Is that the secret of your success? Big game hunting? I know Maureen has been known to have a few mid afternoon drinks and watch Friday Night Lights, hunting for Tim Riggins, but somehow I don't think that has the same effect as Hemingway's afternoons.

Sadly, these days my afternoons are all about picking up the Mr. Potato head pieces (stupid idea to get him that toy. All the kid does is empty the bucket out and chuck the earrings at the dog.) Emptying the dishwasher, staring into the freezer wondering what I'm spending all that money on at the grocery store if my stupid freezer is always empty. A few days ago I watched two episodes of Battlestar Gallactica in a row -- that was fantastic. Almost like big game hunting - or maybe almost like getting hammered - either way, more inspiring that digging under the furniture for plastic potato ears and mouths. If I were writing a book called "The Male Toddler and His Unreasonable Attachment to Fire Trucks and Poop" I'd be done with the thing by now, having all the inspiration in that area that a woman needs. I've got laundry, grocery shopping, someone actually has to pay the bills, walk the dog, write the blog and clean the crayon off the tv set.

Is it any freaking wonder my well is empty?

Sinead's post reminded me that as stay at home mom's we need entertainment to inspire us. Because we don't really leave the house! In my life before my son I would ride the subway and look at people and write their stories based on their clothes and the way they sat and what they read and then I'd take what I had come up with and create the opposite of it and try to reverse all my expectations. It was a fun game. Helpful and creative and useful to me as a writer. I don't even have that anymore. Every time I get on the subway these days, I'm like my son, distracted by the lights and scared of the loud noises.

This will change at some point. Right? It has to. Because there is a year until the next JR Ward book and a writer's strike on and I am sucking air at the bottom of my well.

PS - I am adding this after this has been posted for a while, because I forgot the whole point of this post in the middle of my stay at home mom rant. The point is -- these moments, I think are what separate the writers from the I wish I was a writers. When the muse is nowhere to be found and you still have a page count to fill - these moments are what scare a lot of writers away. When you just pound stuff out and you know it's awful but you have to do it -- ugh. Even writing that made me depressed. But it's what we have to do - because if this was easy, everyone would do it.

Still, it would be nice if those Hollywood writers weren't on strike right now....

9 comments:

Wylie Kinson said...

You are picking up potato pieces, while I'm cursing the animal who got my 3 year old the 1500 piece tub of Lego.

Why not try a children's book, just for fun? It's a different kind of creativity and it may give you a break from staring at an empty well.

Sinead M said...

So nice to know I'm not alone on needing to fill the well, or on spending vast amounts of my day picking up kids toys.
For us it's mega blocks.. which she now uses to create gates to block out imaginary crocodiles.
The kid's got almost as scary an imagination as I do... or we've been watching way too much Dora.

I definitely need new inspiration soon. The JR Ward books can only take me so far and the new season of Battlestar seems decades away.

Heidi the Hick said...

What a GREAT post!

And that last paragraph is inspiring, even if it pained you to write it! The most important thing I've learned in the last year or so is that I have to write, even if it comes out as total crap. The muse is fickle but must be trained!

ooo that's not bad...must go write!

(I'm past the toy infestation stage and into larger smellier laundry and pre-teen hormone swings. Oh well...)

Molly O'Keefe said...

HA Heidi -- that is a good line and so true. It really is about training - which is no fun and hard.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Hey Check out my interview over at www.sixdegreesofsexy.blogspot.com. Those ladies are a lot of fun!!!

Christine d'Abo said...

I'm taking the month of December to fill my well. I plan on doing anything and everything but write. That way I'll be fresh to start something new in January.

But you're right, it was harder for me to write as a stay at home mom than a work outside the home mom. I meet so many odd people these days...

Kimber Chin said...

Well, as someone who can't have kids (and can't adopt), I'd trade my last cent to pick up potato pieces for my own little trooper.

And yes, I'd dress him up in those crazy Christmas sweaters (who makes those things??), plop a Santa hat on his head, and then send those blackmail photos to all my friend (first rule of blackmailing, never have only one copy).

I can see how too much inside time hampers the writing. I get like that when I'm taking the summer "off" to write. When I go too crazy, I hop on the bus. Plenty o' nutbars to inspire me there.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Christine (who happens to look EXACTLY like Starbuck from BSG but with longer hair and no stoogie) you are doing such a smart thing. Taking a month off and making yourself not write is excellent medicine -- must do that soon.

Margaret Moore said...

Ah, I fondly remember the days when, if I could navigate through the stuff on the floor, my house was clean enough. :-) But I didn't even *start* writing until my youngest was in nursery school for half a day, and then I had an hour to write. A single hour -- but baby, by the time I got that, I was rarin' to go. And I'd print up my work at the end, and edit it during any spare moment or two (like while cooking).

However, this was also back in the days before the internet. Now you can read folks' blogs about how many books, etc. they have coming out and I really think that adds a lot of pressure.

My advice? Relax. You're probably too tired and stressed, and in my case, that's death to the imagination.

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