Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Month: September, 2011

Practicing

I read yesterday that for writers to maintain a habit of writing, they should take a  similar approach to how musicians practice, i.e., devotedly, everyday, in spare moments.

Great, I thought. Because I’m the girl who’s picked up her violin only once in the past year. My chances at maintaining a writing habit are about as great as my chances of getting into the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. Which is to say, I can do it, but only if I try.

I can see that once I get around to devoting the time, the approach is similar. When I practice, I tend to start out with scales and pieces that I memorized years ago. When I feel sufficiently in sync with the instrument, I’ll try a new piece, or go back to a passage over which I always trip.

For the last few weeks — months really — I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I wrote the first chapter and a few character sketches. Then I stopped. I wasn’t sure how to breathe life into it from there. Was my protagonist actually my antagonist? Should the best friend be the leading lady? Could I write it in a fairly regular atmosphere or should I add a fantasy element to it — demons, mermaids, prophesies — to dramatize the point?

Of course, thinking about a story is part of the writing process, but I have a history of over analyzing. I know this is spelling doom for my little project. So here I am, practicing my scales, the type of writing I figured out how to do long ago.

Crossing the Jungle

Like a Paleo woman, I leave my home early in the morning, making my way across the plains into a jungle. I walk a mile to the edge each day and then crouch, waiting. The waiting gives me time to think and reflect, but suddenly, as if I see a glimpse of an antelope through the trees, I am on my way. I quickly weave through the jungle descending deeper, until I stop again to wait. While I’m thankful for the pause, a chance to catch my breath, I know that it will be short. I will soon be leaping up, rushing ahead, trying to get there on time. By the time I arrive, sweat sits upon my pores and my breath moves quickly. I’ve worked up an appetite, so the food I gather here is welcome sustenance.

After eating, the french press coffee has steeped and I pour myself a cup.  I sit down to an inbox of emails and a stack of bills, letters and junk mail. For the next seven hours, I am an office girl with a head full of books and bookkeeping in a quaint Brooklyn brownstone.

Then I revert back to primitive instinct once again as I commute through the jungle, toward the plains of New Jersey.