This is what I look at during the day. What a nice little office. I've put up a few of my books, some prismacolor markers, my Chanchito, and the pictures I printed the other day are kind of...leaning in their folder agains the lamp.
I'm trying to establish a routine that keeps me healthy a an artist. Being healthy is difficult, because I know I have some anxiety issues that keep me tense and unable to function, but I'm hoping a good routine will help with that. Shauna told me about a woman named Janet Frame, who perceived her creativity as a tiger. When she chattered at the people around her, the tiger
ran away, like there was a loss of energy and nothing for it to draw on. If she kept to herself, and learned how to invite the tiger in, she was able to do her art.
[right: My muse? No, the bad guy in the steampunk novelette.]
I suppose it's like an invocation of the muse, only a ritual
that is done within oneself.
I used to stumble out of bed and go immediately to my e-mail, Facebook, or Youtube. I wake up, and my head is stuffed with cotton and disjointed thoughts and worries and to-do's, and I just shove that all aside and force more stuff into it right away, hoping to cut through the fluff with a focus. Well, that wasn't working.
So I wake up, get coffee and food, and do morning
pages. So far, I haven't done the full three pages each day, because I usually have something I want to get to, but it's working pretty well. After that, I've been doing about 20 minutes of yoga. I know I need something physical to get my blood moving during the day, and yoga is something that I can do inside in any weather. I'm hoping to add walking to that mix, but we'll see.
Next, I take my coffee and bang on the computer keys. I've determined that I want to write at least 800 words a day, or write for at least 2 hours. Whichever one comes first. After that, I proceed with whatever else I want to do that day. I know some days will be 500-word days, and some days will be 4,000 word days. I hope for more of the latter, but we'll see.
My writing needs to shift. I need to figure myself and my voice out, and I need to stop trying to please the ghosts in my past, or at least stop trying to prove myself to them. One of the problems I've identified recently is that I tend to seek feedback too soon and too often. I send out what I write immediately, and that stifles me because I wait to hear back before I start writing again. If I'm in the middle of a work, that's a terrible idea. I know that seems like common sense, but it isn't. Also, this causes me to send the same story to the same readers over and over again. Bless them, they usually respond.
Let's take a journey to the department of backstory. When I was younger, I started a billion stories that I never finished.
They were all long, rollicking epics that never got more than a couple pages onto the page. Then one day, I started "The Mark of Flight". At that point, I called it "White", because of the imagery in what was then the opening scene. I wrote that book until I finished it, and only really did a little bit of fanfiction besides. I wrote other things for my writing classes, but besides that, I never did short stories. I don't like thinking in small, tight packages (Why the hell did I go to Japan, then? Yes, that's right. That's what I meant.).
I wanted to keep plugging away at my books--a lot because books are my love, but also because I was afraid I'd never finish another one. I was afraid I only had the capacity to do one more. I was terrified of going back to the start-stop process that I did when I was 15.
The problem with that is this: I have only one outlet in which to practice my craft--my book. If I want to play with style, or if I have a moment where something sparks a story, I didn't let myself write it. I wanted to corral all of that energy into writing what I wanted to write, not let it dissipate on something else.
But artists sketch. Not everything is a masterpiece. Some pages are scribbles. Some pages are hand studies, or face studies, or rat ear studies (hi, Mrs. Henard :) ).
So why can't I sketch?
Coming to that realization was something that feels like it should have been easier, but I think most artistic breakthroughs are. "Why didn't I understand that before?" people wonder, because it seems so simple. It seems so easy once you say it out loud, or write it on the page. It isn't easy, though. In making this decision, I decided to allow sketches to count towards my 800 words a day. As long as I produce 800 words of something every day, it doesn't have to be on the big thing I'm working on, and that was a seriously difficult thing to allow myself.
Today I wrote over 800 words, even though I had gone easy on myself and only made 600 the goal. It was a fun scene, including witty banter, starry skies, and jumping out of trains. God, I love steampunk.