I joined a creative process group thinking that I didn’t need to dwell on the writing process as much I needed to do it. Yes, of course, I wrote, but I found that docu
menting the process allowed me to see the amount of time I spent on research, editing, and pondering the next milestone in the plot or character development. I was writing i
n my head most days, all day long, no matter what activity engaged my body.
I write fiction filtering reality and that tests my patience. It is a useless exercise to wish I could outline and write a scene each day. Basically, I write a paragraph, and then if I am lucky, another paragraph. I make myself sit for an hour, but sometimes in fifteen-minute intervals. I rewrite, check the facts, ponder the right word for the meaning I want, rewrite, try to write the next scene, read it out loud, yuk, horrible, rewrite, let it sit, rewrite, ask myself why, scream, take a walk, an idea bubbles, write some, dream about the work, write a new scene, feel gleeful, get stuck, realize
that plot line can’t happen in that year and so on.
On most days I would compare writing a book to childbirth with the gestation periods marked in chapters. Most of the growing goes on inside me without my intervention and seems miraculous or alien–depending on the day. The good days are when my characters speak to me. I lose track of time. I write four hours without looking up at the clock. The protagonist insists on going her own way in the plot, and I gladly follow, because I am lost in fierce wonder. I am at the bottom of the ocean watching the seaweed bend in the current toward the shore and holding my breath while trying to have faith, give in, and float back to dry land.