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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Living or writing?

You know a great writer once said "If you're living you're not writing and if you're writing you're not living".  I think I scoffed when I first heard that but now I'm thinking that it's probably true.  Ever since I started seriously writing last January I've found that I'm in either one of those two states of being.  I'm not sure why it's true, maybe because writing makes you live in your head while imagining things that don't exist.  Maybe it's some fault on my part to not be able to multitask well.  Whichever it is I'm trying to keep a better balance this year than I did in the last.

On January 3rd 2011 (yes I remember the date!) I woke up in my cousin's apartment in Paris from a dream that was so vivid and detailed that I immediately woke Ryan up and started telling him about the story I needed to write.  I had seen the main plot in my dream and a few scenes, so it felt like I was describing a movie as I told him about what would happen.

We were going to Versailles that day and from my cousin's apartment it was about an hour train ride.  I spent that hour talking and talking and asking questions and Ryan was a wonderful sounding board.  He made some suggestions and was just as excited as I was, telling me to write it all down at the first opportunity.

So we went to Versailles, which was amazing.  I bought a little notebook at the gift shop and we camped out in a restaurant in the village for the next 2 hours while I drank chocolat chaud and wrote down all the ideas that were filling my head by the second.  By the time we left that evening, my hand was cramping, my head was still spinning with ideas, but I felt like I'd captured the main idea of what this story was all about.

The next few months through revolution in Egypt, evacuation to the states, and a hectic spring schedule at work, I wrote.  It felt like the story was pressing against the sides of my head at times, so excited to get out.  I was desperately afraid of losing even one morsel of the plot, forgetting a quote or a character.  I was a bit possessed by it.  As soon as I got home in the afternoon I cloistered myself in our bedroom and I wrote until bedtime.  On Sat mornings I would get up at 7am and write all day, taking breaks for meals and sometimes even to pay a bit of attention to my husband.  Ryan was wonderfully patient with me through those six months when I spent the majority of my time telling him to leave me alone so I could concentrate.  I am truly blessed to have found a man that understands me so well!

Probably the biggest blessing though, was finding my writing partner Renee.  I really don't think my novel would have gotten past the first 30 pages if it wasn't for her.  Her initial excitement and encouragement were what kept me writing until I got to the point where I thought it was good too.  Even though she was busy with her own writing projects she read and reread hundreds of pages and kept me moving ahead.  If this book ever gets published she's definitely getting a long thank you in the the Acknowledgments.

So now my book is "done".  Ha ha, it feels funny to say that since I've now spent about the same amount of time editing is as I did in writing the first draft.  I've written a book.  I actually accomplished a goal I've wanted ever since I was a little girl.  And I think it's getting really good.  I'm excited to start the next one once I've got this one a bit more polished.   I cut scenes that I loved, reordered chapters and changed the beginning so many times I can't even remember how it used to start.  And I'm pretty proud of myself because it's gotten easier to spend more time "living" while I've done it all.  Maybe you can edit and live at the same time, even if writing and living are difficult.  :)  


  1. I am glad to know you are letting your creative side have its freedom. I would very much like to see your writings, when and if, you want to share them. Be grateful Ryan is also a creative thinker and writer and respects your desire to capture your thoughts and ideas. Love GP

  2. Thanks grandpa, I would be honored if you would read it! I'll email you the document. :)

  3. Hey Devin ;) Awesome post. I love hearing another writer leave reality for a year and dive into their imagination. It does get easier to live and write the more we do it. I'm super proud that I get to read your MS before it gets published :)

    Thanks for emailing me on QT :)

  4. Thanks Jade, I'm really glad I found you too! Here's hoping we both have literary luck in 2012