WANTED: Old dog seeks new tricks

I’ve always only written either when the muse takes me, or I have a deadline to meet. Today, I had an epiphany or two.

One: you can’t write a scene in a novel as if it were a short story. It doesn’t work and the scene I was trying to write actually happens over a period of months with other things happening in between. Regardless, that’s how I wrote it. In my defence, I’ve written hundreds of short stories. This is my first novel.

Two: I didn’t want to write last night. It had been a challenging day. Some challenges are good, some are bad and some don’t show their worth until later. I had a mixture of all three yesterday and last night I was weary, I had a headache and my dog was depressed because I forgot to buy dog treats. Yes, yes, I can hear the strains of invisible violins and a chorus of “First World problems!” Regardless, I didn’t want to write. But I made a pinky promise, so write I did.

I’ve read and skimmed loads of blog posts, Medium articles and Facebook threads on the importance of “writing every day”. I ignored them. Seat-pants flying is an occupation espoused by my family. We live by the motto ‘I’ll do it when I have to’. Last night/today, I learnt a new trick. Those articleblogthreads are right. There, I’ve said it.

I discovered what many other writers probably discovered. Writing is what counts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pile of steaming manure. After you write your scat-ridden piece, magic happens. Your writer’s mind takes the odoriferous passage and first, embellishes it, brings it life, hears the sounds and smells the smells. It feels the joy, the sadness, the fear. It sees the actions, the faces, and the surroundings. You get this down quickly, almost as a stream-of-consciousness exercise.

Then you edit the shit out of it.

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