Thursday, February 24, 2011

Writing WoW

“If you don’t have a sensation of apprehension when you set out to find a story and a swagger when you sit down to write it, you are in the wrong business.”

- A.M. Rosenthal

Those of you who read my Last Post know that my Winter Writing Wonderland wasn’t that wondrous.

Because I wasn’t in the right frame of mine to write after the stressful morning, I decided to cram the remainder of the day with chores. I did laundry, spent way too much time at the post office, food shopped, cooked an elaborate(ish) dinner, and had a cousin over for dinner.

Tuesday didn’t work out. But I vowed WEDNESDAY was going to be THE DAY. Oh yeah.

7:30 am – woke up too early because of the stupid cat.

Got up, had coffee, and caught up on some blogging and e-mails.

9:00 am - declared to my children that I was making myself cereal and it was now my writing time so I didn’t want to be bothered.

9:01 am – the children requested breakfast.

9:05 am – looked over chapters 17-21. If I don’t know what the heck I wrote last, how I am I going to add to this thing?

10:34 am – I begin writing chapter 22. I’m at 28,327.

For the next 5 ½ hours, I write. At 12:30 I stopped for lunch. At 2:30 I figured I should take a shower. At least I had brushed my teeth in the morning.

4:00 pm - By the time I know I’m done for the day, I’ve written 4,292 words, I’ve finished chapter 24. I’m up to 32,646 words. I’m well on my way to the projected 50k.

I feel so good. I’m proud at my accomplishment. Even more, I’m relieved. Since beginning this job in October, I’ve only written about 10k words on this WIP. I wrote almost half that number in one day. It was getting to the point I didn’t really know if I could continue writing.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic. Since I got the job, I wrote a short story that was accepted in an anthology. And I have done some writing. But this is the first manuscript that I haven’t belted out rough (and I mean, rough) draft in about six weeks. Its like I’d lost my moxie. I’ve had all these ideas for Naked Eye, scenes unfolding, but I didn’t have the mental stamina to write them. But today I wrote two big scenes I’ve thought about for months.

When I teach a really good lesson, I can’t imagine not teaching. I get a high while I’m up there and for sometime afterwards. Same if I have a breakthrough with a student. They don’t happen each time I teach or interact with a student.

Those feelings happen virtually every time I write.

So, which job makes me happier?

- The teaching job because I get paid. And I like the subject and the kids some most of the time.

- The writing job because it feeds my soul.

I don’t pretend there aren’t difficult aspects: editing, harsh critiques, crafting a query, sending said query, receiving rejections, explaining why I’m still not published. But when I’m writing, I’m building something.

As the writing day wore on, I got giddy. I posted word count updates on Facebook even though I’m sure nobody else cared. My main character, Lucienne has a story to tell but I’ve been stifling her. Back in the fall, I had wanted to bring this manuscript to the NESCBWI conference this May. But I’ve already registered and already had to send my query for the quick query and 10 pages of my manuscript for the critique. I had to send “completed” work. Several days ago, I didn’t have faith that the WIP would be completed in time.

I have to make time for this because I feel better. The weight of the words has been partially lifted. Today I can breathe.

What role does writing play in your life?


  1. I am DELIGHTED to hear you finally got some time to do the word boogie! : j

    It looks like at the moment you can pursue both, and the way you tell it, it seems that dropping one wouldn't necessarily help the other, and certainly wouldn't help you...
    At least you have the option of holding onto your cards and seeing what you will be dealt next before making your play.

    I started writing as an exercise to test the validity of my approach to things... partially because I realised that my approach had essentially been tailored for a purpose that had been made redundant. Then it became a hobby, a means of sharing the stories that ceaselessly lap on the shores of mind with more than my significant other and cat.
    Shrug... Then the writing part of the story started feeling like a burden... A rehashing of a story that had already been told. Like trying to tell a person about a movie when they should just go see it for themselves... Of course that is irrational because the movie was only playing in my basement cellar behind locked doors.

  2. Yay for writing time! Personally I'm having trouble feeling passionate about new work. I really want to start a sequel but without selling the first, that's usually frowned upon.

  3. Odd you should ask the question because I just posted a little about why I write and before that one why I got stuck for several months.
    I write out of the absolute need to write. There are days that I have to kill a character to get past the frustration of it but I always resurect them and move forward. I found that in my own journey to writing, it became much more than I had anticipated. It's something I love to do, it gives me an escape, it's brought me a community of like-minders and most importantly it's a part of me now.

    I'm so glad you're making progress! That's always a time to celebrate even if it's a FB update (which I also do).

    And- I can always bedazzle, if my husband would allow it I'm sure out TV would have been decorated with decopage or some other crazy thing I could stick with hot glue ;) That part of me...still here!

  4. Yay! I'm so glad you were finally able to eke out some quality writing time. Three cheers!!! :-)

  5. Oh Baby! As a teacher and a writer, I totally related to this post!

  6. I think teaching and writing use the same parts of the brain - my brain anyway. They both seem to steal energy from the other. Congratulations on your great writing day!

  7. The name Lucienne makes me wonder how to pronounce it correctly. I think I'm butchering it every time.

  8. 'Writing feeds my soul.' -- I don't think I could have said it better! Congrats on the forward momentum. Best of luck with the MS!!

  9. Hooray for mom writing time! Sometimes you just need to sit down, shoo everone away, and write ;)

  10. WOW I am feeling your enthusiasm! And it is contagious! I want to write and feel that WOW. Now!

  11. almost 5K words! That's fantastic!!!

    What role? Oh, very much the feeding the soul part, and hopefully the "I get paid" part as well one day. For the novel-writing, I mean.

    what a great time you're having! Best~ <3

  12. I love what you wrote about writing feeding your soul and especially, "I have to make time for this because I feel better. The weight of the words has been partially lifted. Today I can breathe."

  13. The writing is there if I want it/need it. But the older I get, the more I say do what makes you feel the most fulfilled. When children are young, you can't always get that writing time that you'd like. There's a time and a season. Just do what you can, and enjoy the journey.

    I came over because of your comment on L'Aussie's guest post about me and my writing journey that's culminating in publication of my memoir. Thanks for wishing me luck with my book!

    And best wishes to you for in all your endeavors!

  14. I'm so glad you got so much writing done. ~5k in one day is amazing!

    I feel the same way you do. Whenever I make significant progress with my writing, the euphoria is amazing. The problem is that I haven't been able to write with the demands of school -- it'll be good for me to sit down and try to write as much as I can in one day.

  15. So happy for your breakthrough, Theresa. I love moments like that. Writing serves as a medium of self-expression for me. I think the stories up in my head as I go about my regular day, and then put them down on paper.I love my characters so much I couldn't not write about them. I think there's a little Walter Mitty in every writer.

  16. @ Alesa, when one goes well, I think, "This is what I want to do!" Funny thing, when I get frustrated about not finding a teaching job, I turn to writing as if it's going to dig me out of the hole when in reality it should be easier to obtain a teaching job than a publishing contract!

    Sorry writing became a burden for you. I wonder if/when you'll return to it.

    @ Anne, I've been there! I had a vampire idea, and wrote 3 1/2 books all in a row. The ideas were there, so I couldn't stop. Until the last one, and then I said, "Enough." I figure even if they never sell, I've become a better writer from the practice.

    @ Erica, you made me laugh over thinking about killing a character just to get past it. Like you, I couldn't live without writing. I think.

    @ Shannon, thanks!

    @ Bossy Betty, glad you could relate!

    @ Lauri, that's exactly it - one steals energy from the other. It's just like when I use to blog almost daily and wondered why I was writing less fiction. We can only channel so much creative energy.

    @ Michael, Loose - ee - ehn. Is that how you were butchering... saying it?

  17. @ Nicole, thank you! I appreciate it.

    @ Kerri, that's the truth. It feels so good when I do it, so I have to stop making excuses and stop feeling guilty.

    @ KarenG, I hope you're writing away today!

    @ LTM, if I could get paid for feeding the soul along with school visits so I could interact with students, it would be a win-win.

    @ Kathleen, I love that you love what I wrote.

    @ Ann, great advice. Normally, my kids aren't in the way of my writing, though they certainly take time. I can happily type away on my couch if I don't let myself make the time in favor of obligations. I have to learn to say no more.

    Thank you for stopping by and for following!

    @ Emy, the demands of school, whether as a student or teacher does make it hard to write.

    I hope you get a productive writing day soon.

    @ Roxy, I love how you put it. That's exactly how I feel!

  18. I'll BET that felt good--go you! And yes, it feeds my soul too!

  19. Theresa, that is impressive, good for you.
    I write because I love it and also hope to make some kind of freelance career from it to fit in with my life.

  20. Theresa, I love this post! I feel so proud of you! That's fantastic! I'm so glad you had an inspiration day.

    And you said it. Writing feeds the soul.

  21. @ Christina, thanks for the comment. Hope you're getting in some writing time too.

    @ Brigid, you work hard when it comes to writing. I hope your freelance work takes off.

    @ Talli, thank you. I haven't written today, but mostly because I haven't decided about what exactly I want to happen next. So I'm thinking while I'm ironing - multitasking!

  22. Congratulations on the amazing accomplishment. I know all to well how crappy it feels not to be able to write, especially when you alotted the time. I am still waiting to hear back from the publishing house and haven't been able to write a single word in 3 weeks. It's awful, gut wrenching, and completely unsatisfying.

    Here's to breaking the mold. After all, if you can do it I know you'll give me the support to push on as well!

  23. Congrats on having such a great writing day. I love the days when I'm so into the writing that I forget to eat or brush my teeth or any of that.

    Don't be too sad about taking longer than six weeks to crank out a manuscript. It took me eight weeks to do almost 70K and I was writing in every spare minute I had (2-3 hours a day). It's a really hard pace to keep up. Being a little more laid-back about it is good and you're probably thinking through your scenes and characters better and your draft will end up less "rough."

    Good luck with the rest!

  24. In addition to my blog and my fiction I also keep a journal. It helps to write out my feelings and my ideas so that I can try and figure stuff out. The good thing about writing is that you don't have to get paid to do it; you can keep writing forever.

    Good for you for writing so much in one day! That's definitely impressive. (I laughed when your kids requested breakfast just one minute after you said you didn't want to be bothered.)

  25. Theresa Milstein!!!! Cats have a funny timetable than their humans! LOL!!

    But seriously!! Awww wow!!! You are so IN THE ZONE!! It's so great to hear!!! It's so good that you had a day of writing - and didn't it just feel wonderful!!

    Oh I hope you let Lucienne (lovely name!) out of her cage now and listen to her beautiful voice sing!!! Take care

  26. WOW, I get it and what a feat! "Writing feeds the soul," isn't that why we all write? Cats aren't the only crazy ones, so are my dogs :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  27. @ Jen, they tell you to write when you're waiting but it's hard to write when you're on edge. Good luck. I'm hoping for you!

    Glad you like the pink hair. It's fun to have it in a picture - less commitment than real life.

    @ Lisa, I used to always write that intensely. I hope you're right, and this draft is less rough than the others. I'm certainly giving myself plenty of time for reflection.

    @ Neurotic Workaholic, it's a good idea to have a journal so you're always writing. I feel like I use my blog as my journal sometimes.

    Yeah, my kids weren't impressed. I yelled, "Didn't I just say I was writing?" and "You're old enough t get your own breakfast" Then I decided it was easier to do it myself than nag about putting everything away when they were done.

    @ Old Kitty, normally my husband takes her out and closes the door. He did, but the door didn't click. And she listens for it because as soon as he went into the shower, she pushed open the door and meowed as she jumped on the bed. And why does a purr sound like a jet engine that early in the morning?

    I'm happy you like the name. I spent a lot of time finding the right one. It means light - apt for the book.

    @ Jules, I'm sure we all write to feed to the soul.

    I guess all animals are crazy in their own special ways.

  28. It must have been wonderful to finally get some writing time. I'm so glad you did.
    Happy writing and Here's to more writing time!
    Pink hair! Did you do that?

  29. I am jealous of, I mean happy for, your lovely, productive writing day. I can't wait until my quarter's over so I can swap grading for writing.

  30. It sounds like you had a great day!! When I'm in teacher-mode I make and take the writing time wherever it will come.

  31. @ Choices, thanks. I hope to squeeze a little writing time into today.

    The pink hair? It's to help promote The Liar Society. See the cool chick with the pink hair on the cover of the book in my sidebar?

    @ Missed Periods, when does your quarter end? Hope you get some writing time soon. I loved the quiz on your blog.

    @ Paul, that's a good method. I just need to make and take more writing time.

  32. I have never written that many words in one day! Even when I've been writing for the WHOLE day! I guess I just write slowly....

  33. I consider writing my main reason for living which is why anything that gets in the way of it I tend to despise. But I also know that there are days when the writing mojo is going to be off and I just have to take a break.

    I'm glad you were able to get back into the groove. I find that when I've taken care of chores and have eaten and tell everyone to leave me alone, I'm able to write at my best.


  34. Writing and breathing; one is as important as the other.

    When I'm not writing something (anything!), I feel myself getting tense. It's the same feeling that I get when I haven't seen my best friend for awhile; an uneasiness that all in not right in the world.

    congratulations on the amount of writing you accomplished. that's awesome. I'm on about 27,000 (and I facebaook my count every once in awhile too!)

  35. @ Rachel, I speak, read, and write quickly. It may be a mix of genetics and being from New York. But when I'm done writing that much, it feels like a full day of work!

    @ Jai, I like your attitude towards writing. I wish I could be upfront about requesting writing time. I'll work on it. And I like that you "despise" what gets in the way of writing. That outlook makes it a priority.

    @ Linda, congratulations on being at 27k. I was just writing, and am now at 33,666.

    Writing = breathing. I like that!

  36. I wrote a rambling post on my feelings about writing.
    To sum it up though, writing is a drug for me. I need it to feel alive, and to have a sense of purpose. It's my passion and my lifestyle.

  37. I'm a teacher too... and I can completely empathize with everything you said. Writing feeds my soul too and when I have a good writing day, I feel SO wonderful!

    Glad you had a great day!

    New follower and fellow crusader! Nice to meet you.

  38. I just wanted to check in with a group bud from the crusade.
    I'm glad you found time to write. :)

  39. 5 1/2 solid hours writing? Wow, that's impressive. Even when I get a lot of words down, I never actually spend that long in one day writing or editing. I should - at least on Saturdays, I have no excuse not to...

  40. Hi Theresa, There is a Stylish Blogger award waiting for you over at Inkpots n' Quills. Pop over and collect it.

  41. You rock, Theresa! I'm glad those words made it onto the page, keep going, whenever, wherever. It's worth it :)

  42. @ Nutschell, thanks for your comment. I'll check out your post.

    @ Alison, I like meeting other teacher-writers. Thanks for following!

    @ Ciara, thanks. I'm going to try to prioritize writing from now on.

    @ Deniz, I probably lost an hour in the middle with lunch, showering, and little stuff. But it was a long time for me.

    @ Ann, thank you. I'll come on over!

    @ Joanne, thanks for the encouragement!

  43. Happy to hear you made progress on your progress. Thought it funny when you said that at 9:00 you were going to write and didn't want to be bothered and a minute later the kids requested breakfast. Isn't it just like kids?

    I have seasons where the words flow and then there are times when I simply stop writing for ages. But always, there is euphoria when I decide to sit down and do what I enjoy best.

  44. I'm so glad your 2nd day worked out so well! That's so exciting!!! :) The feeling of words flowing is unlike anything else!

  45. Congratulations on a wonderful writing day! It does feel great when it happens. And I'm with you - writing, for me, is soul-affirming.

  46. @ JL Campbell, I set myself up. I should've fed them and resolved to begin at 9:15.

    I used to go through dry periods, but I resolved not to anymore. Until I got the full-time job and went through another dry period!

    @ Jemi, it's so true. And now more of the story is coming together in my head. I can't wait to write more.

    @ Beth, glad you liked the quote!

    @ Adina, thank you. We should all do what nourishes our soul as often as we can.

  47. Writing keeps me sane. It helps me get away from reality without really getting away. I still get my life and get to be other people in my characters.

  48. Thanks for posting a pic to the Nature of Magic Blogfest!!!

    Writing has helped me to be more open to critique, to practicing a craft, and to pace myself. ;)

  49. Yay! I'm so happy you were able to get so much done! :) I love days like that and I can totally relate to the feeling.

  50. @ Regina, well-said. I agree with this completely!

    @ ildiamond, I'm glad to join the blogfest. Now I have to figure out what to use.

    The more we write, the more we learn all things related to writing.

    @ WritingNut, thanks! I'm looking forward to my next writing day, whenever it is.

  51. Hey have I commented on the purple hair? Go girl!

    Great that you're moving forward with your writing. Mojo, moxie whatever, just write it! I know what you mean by a good lesson and writing is even more inspirational when it's going great...


  52. wow! I am JUST like this when I write! I can sit and write a pile of words, but then not write for many days. I think if you're thinking about the scenes for months, then that counts as writing time. That's the way I look at it anyway! It percolates in my head.
    way to go for those word counts!

  53. I'm glad you had such a successful day and got your moxie back!

    How hilarious - at 9:00am you inform the kids it's your writing time, and at 9:01am the kids request breakfast. Sounds a lot like my house!

  54. Yay on your progress!

    Writing fills me with both peace and excitement, and I love the feeling of productivity.

  55. Wow!
    Great progress!
    It is my door into other worlds.

  56. @ Angela, thanks! I hope to keep it.

    @ L'Aussie, my hair is supposed to be pink to help promote The Liar Society. But just like would happen in real life, because the Roecker sister authors had to cover over black, it's more like fuchsia.

    @ Terry, it's good to know someone writes and waits like I do. I guess I knew the problem was I had become so disconnected from my manuscript, I'd nearly stopped thinking about it.

    @ Susan, thanks. That's what I got for making a proclamation like that. I made them interested in breakfast.

    @ Medeia, thank you. Well-said.

    @ Al, thanks. It's my door into other worlds too.

  57. Hi Theresa!
    Just dropping by to say thank you for the kind words you left at my blog last week. Completing a work and getting it polished is definitely an awesome feeling. I hope you have a fabulous week!

  58. @ Nutschell, I'm glad you liked my comment. Thank you for your comment.

    I hope you have a fabulous week too.

  59. Hi Theresa! I cannot believe that I've missed this post and the one before this.

    I think my being a mother does writing play in my life. I have two more novels to write and even my sister tells me my novels have one thing in common, and there is always being a mother in it. I wish I could have another idea though that would be different from this.

  60. @ Len, I think having mothers in your books isn't such a bad thing. My first novel was a challenge. I heard an author say parents are always conveniently killed or missing. I decided to deal with the messy parent-kid stuff.

  61. Congratulations on a great writing day. I like your statement that writing feeds your soul. That's about what it feels like.

  62. @ Kari, I was tired and depressed last night, but I wrote about 2/3 of a chapter or more in 45 minutes during my kids' Taekwondo lesson. It made me feel much better.