Close the door behind you

“Yesterday i got lost in the circus,
feeling like such a mess…”

(Colors by Amos Lee feat Norah Jones)

I wrote 2000 words a day for two weeks, during such time I felt out of my own body, frightened to even wonder how long it would last. It was impossible to write all of that in english, words kept falling between the cracks and it took more time to look them up than to focus on the actual story. I plotted in Portuguese and wrote dialogues in English.

Then the spell broke. I couldn’t get hold of the story as a whole. It kept coming if I wanted to, but was never like I intended. Like making love just because you love someone, but the sexual desire is all gone. Isabel Allende said that on the contrary to what everyone thinks, writing is really a hard job, she says you have to be an addict to your own writing and it will not work if you don’t feel as so.

I think she’s right. I felt it when I was writing 2000 words a day. I was so in to it that I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. Whenever we sat on the couch in the evening to watch another one of our favorite series, my husband pressed Pause often and waited until I could concentrate on the TV again.

When I lost passion for my novel I thought about getting a job back in the ordinary market. I even searched for jobs online. But something in me kept asking: “is that it? are you gonna give up now? all those months for what? an excuse for laziness?”

Comforted by the idea that writing was still my desire and that I would start looking for ‘paycheck’ jobs anytime I wanted to, I started to read my novel from the beginning and puzzling all different scenes (that I had under different files) together. My limit is still a full year of writing and it’s better to have a novel by then or the extra job will just delay it further. My goal is still to look for a ‘paycheck’ job and write my second novel at the same time, preferably more at ease with english by then.

Now that the dark days have passed, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay to doubt ourselves from time to time. I do think it’s even healthy for a while. It’s not easy to be your own boss, specially if you are as demanding and perfectionist as I am. It’s not good at all, because nothing is never good enough for me, I have trouble carry on writing without questioning my every word and my plot.

All Creative Manuals that I know of advise us to write everyday until you reach your goal; without looking back, without editing or re-writing anything. I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to do otherwise if going back is really who you are. It’s better to re-read it than to drop it.

I’m not writing 2000 words a day anymore. I hope I can get back to that goal though. At the moment I’m still reading and re-writing a lot of stuff. I usually write from 700 to 1000 new words a day.

I’ve also created an Excel file to feed my need to organize everything and keep hold on all my Novel’s details. It has 5 sheets, with the following columns:

1- Characters:

Importance (A to F)
Name  (note how the name is not my first priority, as I’m plot driven)
Physical Attributes
What does the character want? Why?
Other Important Notes

2 – Places

Definition / Relevance
Physical Attributes
Other Important Details

3 – Scenes

Time & Place
Relevant Detail / Action
Reason of relevance / Future link

4 – Chapters

Working Name
Scenes (brief)
Plot Progress

5 – Words Count

Words per day
Total in Novel

I also discovered that it’s not enough to have music on the stereo. I need to hear it directly from the headphones in order to disconnect completely with the rest of the world. At the moment my music list has Batman’s soundtrack, Aqualung, Damien Rice, Dave Mathews Band, amongst other loose tracks.

I’ve also set my blog to Private. I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to write we need to respect our privacy, because others won’t respected it for you. I like myself and I like what I’m doing, nothing else matters. The next lyric is about love, I see it as a muse talking to her writer.

come speak to me easy like hands on skin
come speak to me easy like sky on earth
we are going to do something if you come and tell me
just how you feel
’cause we are gonna work it out
even if your world’s falling apart
are you gonna do something?
are you gonna trust me?
are you gonna take care of what i’ve been given?
are you?

(Come Speak to Me by Elisa)


4 thoughts on “Close the door behind you

  1. Woah! Deep dude, really deep.
    However, I agree with you on a lot of things and as I read them to myself, I recognised certain traits from my own feelings in there.
    Writing for the sake of writing is Goddamn hard and unless you’ve been there, mechanically forcing it onto the page to reach your quota, you cannot imagine how emotionally draining it is.
    However, other times, when the story is flooding your page and the ideas are driving your sails like South Pacific cyclone,then you know why you do it.
    Then you know what true passion is.

  2. I know I say it time and time again, but man!, I love what you write. I just feel like coming home whenever I read your blog. It sounds corny, I know, but I really feel understood. And I can’t wait to read your published novel and be able to brag “oh, I read her blog when she was still struggling to write in English”! ;)
    I know you’re gonna get there. I just know it.

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