August 16, 2010

SSFD ~ The Wrap Up

What I’m Reading Today: Dipped back into a little of John Dufresne’s The Lie that Tells the Truth while we were camping. He has such great things to say.

Well, I thought long and hard about it, and I’m going to throw in the towel on the Summer of Shitty First Drafts. I hate to do it, as I have an inordinate need for closure, and I hate giving up. But I have a novel or two that is more important, and being split like that and feeling guilty about everything is something I hate worse. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not to get anything done.

So, some observations about the SSFD challenge.

1. It was a very worthwhile experiment, though having to report when I failed the challenge was not fun. I learned a lot about myself, and I got a bunch of first drafts / first pages of short stories.

2. It is true that if you don’t fail sometimes, you’re really not putting yourself out there. Even if I hate to fail, even at a self-imposed challenge. But, really, you have to be prepared to fail of you risk anything at all. (Or maybe I’m just justifying things to myself. Blech.)

3. It reaffirmed that I have no problem coming up with ideas. Ideas are everywhere.

4. It sounds so easy. A story a week. Who couldn’t knock out a story a week? I feel like it’s something I should be able to accomplish. And I think I could over a short term with a firm (outside) deadline if I had to. However, it’s really hard, for a number of reasons. One, my time is so split in so many directions, and I do best when I have an idea, have some focused time to think about it, and then throw myself into it for a day or two. But an hour a day, sometimes having to skip, is A LOT harder for me. Second, writing stories takes a lot of focused emotional energy. See first reason.

5. It made me think a lot about whether I had the chops to be a full-time fiction writer. I still believe that I do ~ because I think I’ve got the focus and the drive, and if I was full-time I would arrange my schedule so that it would work. There’d also be a lot more emphasis on it in my mind, and I could be, as Jessamyn West said, “slightly savage” about it. It’s a matter of scheduling and priorities, to a certain extent.

6. I need a lot more pure rumination time on a story than I had realized before this. Whether I’m figuring the story out before I start or I’m staring at a blank page to begin, I need the same amount of pure cogitation time. It needs to mature in the subconscious. No amount of trying to force it will make it mature faster, though active thought will help it along a lot.

7. Nothing will get you out of sitting down in front of the blank page and getting words on the page. :-)

8. There seems to be a natural ebb and flow to my creativity, and well as my productivity. I’m generally not a page-a-day gal. I can be tremendously productive, and then I can be tremendously avoiding. I should accept this about myself but do all I can to keep the creative energy high.

9. The creative way is a lifetime of continual recommitment to yourself and your art. And I mean that: There is something that is unique to each of us ~ and I mean that in the true sense of the word: something that ONLY YOU can bring forth into the world. We should treasure that and not take it for granted nor devalue it. What you have to say/create is priceless because only you can create it. The world would be a poorer place without it.

Questions of the Day: What do you think about the SSFD challenge? Have you ever done something like this? How do you take failure?

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