You know, I have a one-track mind. The direction of that track my change constantly, but it doesn’t change the fact that I can only devote attention to one thing at a time. I imagine my brain as this old-fashioned slide projector which contains a hundred images, but can only project one at a time. And, like a slide projector, if I stay on one picture for too long, the heat starts to melt the plastic and the image is ruined.
This is the reason why I took the year off to write my book. I know quite a few writers who teach full time and write in their ‘spare time’. The concept of ‘spare time’ is as illusory as ‘spare oom’ felt to Tumnus of Narnia. I needed to step away from the all-consuming job as a teacher. I have felt invigorated and inspired, and my first draft is almost done. However, even with the year at my disposal (in a manner of speaking) I have not developed a writing routine.
When people remark, ‘You must be so disciplined to write a book’ or other writers speak of getting up at 5 every morning and writing until 7, I just smile and wave. I have no such patterns of behaviour. I write when I feel like it. I don’t wake up with an inspired thought at 3.27 and have to grab a piece of paper and write it down. I don’t force myself to sit and write for an hour a day. This is why I don’t understand the concept of ‘stepping away’ from my novel once the draft is done.
My supervisor needs the first draft by 23 June; he’ll have it next week. This writing process has been such fun. I have been able to imagine anything and it appears on the page. The next stage, the structural edit, is the hard work. This is where my ramblings need to come together to become a novel. I am really excited about this challenge – being someone who loves jigsaw puzzles. And so I have been advised to step away from my work for a couple of weeks before diving into this taxing process. But I haven’t been head-down-bum-up continuously. I have dipped into my story and sometimes not written for a week.
What do you mean you haven’t written for a week? What kind of writer are you? Ah, here’s where my one-track mind comes in. For the past two weeks (and for the next four) I have been teaching full time to fill the coffers. We all know by now that I cannot just teach and walk away. I agonise over the students, wonder how I can do things better, and spend time thinking about how not to kill the little shits – I have 200 13-15-year-olds…
Never mind the discipline of writing, I know who needs discipline!