Hiawassee Warm-ups

Hiawassee Writing Weekend 2017

I haven’t been alone in about 20 years, but I am now. It is terrifying.

I am 39 years old and I’ve gotten away from my husband and three kids so that I can expunge from my brain years of ideas for fiction that have been building up. I took my 12 year old daughter to my cousins’ house and then stayed overnight. Today, after helping my cousin harvest organic vegetables from his garden, I drove the two hours up here to Hiawassee to write.

I will write.

I will sit here in this land without wi-fi and all the brilliant ideas that I’ve had for my blog, for fiction, for Christian novels, and YA novels, and for the great American novel—all of that will just pour from my brain into this computer.

I used to blog. That exercise, while not exactly fictional, at least kept my writing chops exercised. But in recent years, the yuck of blogging (technology, monetizing, social media, yucky competitive mommy blog inferiority complex comparisons) have shut me down. Now when I write a Bible study, I post the worksheets and sometimes a vlog ON my blog, but in terms of doing any creative non-fiction, fiction or otherwise, I am out of shape.

On the way here, I was talking to my friend Erin on the phone and said that I would just sit here and type and type and type JUST to do it and be able to say that I had done it. Like when a runner decides, “Okay, I am going to run a marathon!” That athlete talks and talks about it for years without actually lacing up, I have been projecting myself as a writer and always thinking about that elusive future date when I will start writing, but I am VERY easily distracted and I am full of excuses. I just need to actually start making the effort . . . .

Katrina’s Writing Weekend Day 3

So far today I have written nothing—well except for this.  My friend came for the last two days and she made two quilts and a bunch of these reusable tote bags, but I used up all my creativity yesterday.

Actually, the problem is that I spent a bunch of time reading this big fat book about the Writer’s Market that is meant to be a helpful guidebook of sorts, but only succeeding in convincing me that I have a snowballs chance in hell of ever getting published and even less chance of making any money at it.

So that kind of squelched my drive. I mean, there are literally millions of thousands of books out there already. And many of them are really quite good.  Why should I pour time and effort and heart into joining them only to discover that I’m as likely to be drafted into the NFL. (Which I am not—in case there was any wonder there.)

So, after she left, I came back to the house and I went out onto the rope swing tied from a big giant black walnut tree (or some kind of tree with these pale green nuts the size of a golf balls) and I swung myself around as a big thunderstorm rolled over the mountain, rumbling and warm.  The day turned from muggy to cool and there I was, swinging away, leaning WAY back on the swing, 39 years old, wearing a polka dot sundress and waiting for a summer storm to inspire me.

And suddenly for some reason, I started thinking about a girl I know whose newborn baby just died.  She’s probably 15 years younger than me, but we have so much in common. We grew up in the same town, went to the same church and participated in the same youth groups. We both graduated from the same small Christian college and we both married musicians, though hers is in a band and mine is a teacher. I don’t know why it struck me that it just wasn’t okay for her to have to deal with the rest of life for years and years when last month her baby died.

And then I came in and sat down and the storm rumbled past and I looked more at that horrible discouraging book and then I got the computer and came back outside to force my fingers to type something even though I feel like I have nothing to say.

Today in talking to my friend, I purged all my ugly hot jealousy about four other writer friends who are all publishing this year and I am just sad at myself and mad at myself and absolutely gobsmacked at how they are cranking out books and navigating the publishing process, and getting PAID, MEANWHILE navigating the same daily struggles of children and marriage and middle income living that utterly paralyze me from any sort of productivity. Do they never sleep? Are their husbands doing half the housework and managing their blogs? Are they technology wizards who don’t have emotional breakdowns from the merest blog glitch? Are their kids on screens all the time?

I know, I know, I know that the version of their success that I see on social media (One friend from college happily posted that she had just finished “56K words—manuscript done—Yippee” I swear, I almost threw my phone into the river. Because obviously I’m so mature that I can’t be happy for her AND myself who has had to move heaven and earth and come to an entirely remote location for four days JUST to find the head space to write, let’s see, as of this second 10878 words—a sad portion of which are this whiney drivel. Blechhhh. I annoy even myself with this.

Maybe, like Hugh Howey, I will simply self publish my stories in episodes and sell them for 99 cents on Amazon and then . . .