Authors who are "Differently Expertised"...

Authors who are "Differently Expertised"...

25 April 2011

Writing Religiously

Lately, I've been writing religiously.

No, really -- for the last few weeks, I've been writing religious tracts.  I won't bore you with the details, though I will reassure you that I'm not taking them door to door.  I only bring it up because while my aching fingers will testify that I've been typing a lot lately, none of it is anything I can check off my Goals List.  My latest novel remains unfinished, my children's book is but scribbled notes on a scrap of paper, and I haven't entered a contest or submitted any proposals this year!

At the end of most days, I ask myself if I've really been very writerly lately -- especially on days when the Stupid Computer has eaten two hours of work at least twice.  Maybe you've asked yourself the same question; I hope sharing my answer will help you relate your Other Work to your writing, too (whether or not it includes any typing).

Now, sitting down to the keyboard and giving the inner creative writer free reign is wonderful, and I agree with many other authors that generally, we ought not work at editing until the first draft is "on paper."  For me, that approach turns up all kinds of ideas and characters (all of which, in my experience, need discipline at some point) -- but it's not the right way to handle every project.  These last few weeks I have been editing as I go, very productively.

Most of what I've been working on isn't intended for publication -- but it is nevertheless worthwhile, obviously to Me the Priestess, but also to Me the Writer.  Limited to between 300 and 4,000 words, I have to distill my thoughts and pay close attention to word choice and sentence structure, so that about complex issues I'm clear to readers with little or no background in my subjects.  I don't get to use nearly as many semi-colons as I like!

While writing at least the equivalent of a novella on a range of religious topics, I've also managed to keep up with my volunteer work.  That can also seem more priestessly than writerly: I have to come up with a few hundred words of original material every few weeks, and answer 60+ letters from inmates every month; this month, over 70.  That work isn't likely to be published either, but it too helps me hone both pastoral and writing skills.

Pretty soon I'll get back to my regularly scheduled writing life, working on the novel-in-progress and some short stories.  The QUIET PLEASE, NOVEL IN PROGRESS sign a friend gave me will go back on my office door and I'll put in seven- or nine-hour days uninterrupted by informal deliberations with fellow clergy.  For most of the summer, my desk will once again be a temple of fiction, the keyboard its altar.

I guess the truth is that one way or another, I'm always writing religiously!  How about you?