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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Relearning to write


Since third grade, when I wrote my first horror story, in seventh grade when I wrote my first novel I have always known I wanted to be a writer. The journey of writing is a long trail that no two writers walk exactly the same. And like any path in the unknown wilderness, you can find that you must turn back and find new trail the follow. This is me today. Over the last ten months I have been relearning how to write. Like many writers, I hold down a day job a lot of my writing. On top of that I have also been providing an element of parental care to my surviving elderly parent. In June 2011, the level of care turned into a third job and threw my writing career into a whirlpool of chaos and the unknown.

Before June 2011, I had been working very hard, overcoming various obstacles put into my path by my day job, to prepare to novels to pitch at a writers conference in August. When the event in June occurred — my mother had multiple health issues erupt due to a fall and symptoms that were ignored by the hospital and a skilled nursing facility where she stayed and ended up even having to relearn to wall — my writing time vanished. In fact, my life changed in many ways. Along with my life, I found that the way I wrote — my methods and process — had to change and evolve. Between June and October most of my days were spent going from work to a hospital or skilled nursing facility and eventually home. My study of martial arts was nearly nonexistent and my writing time looked to be on the brink of extinction. My mother was finally released home right before Halloween. Almost instantaneously she ended up back in the hospital. It was the hospital stay that actually gave us the insight to figure out what happened to cause a domino effect that started in June.

While I can sit here and perhaps berate life and go "oh woe is me," things do happen in life for a reason. Looking back at my novel that I thought were ready before June (actually almost ready) I find that they needed to be reworked at least one more time. With that realization and with the fact that being able to leave home at any desired moment was no longer a possibility I have had to reconstruct my method of writing. Why? Simply put, in the past I have never been able to write at home. Additionally parental support for my writing endeavors has always been nonexistent. My parents had always been supportive in almost anything I wanted to do, but writing wasn't one of those things which they could understand as a career. Even as a child I found that I had to physically leave home, lugging along paper and very heavy manual typewriter, in order to be able to write. Today, my mother cannot be left at home alone for any extent of time paying for someone to be with her while I would go out to write would be a small fortune — especially with the fact that I would write at least another 40 hours a week.

So where did that leave me in November? At first I thought up the proverbial creek without the equally proverbial paddle. Then I decided that I would have to try a new way to write, in fact if you have been following along with blog you will have seen I have already talked about having to learn to dictate what I write. This is a whole new process for me. And sometimes this process is quite painful for two reasons: one, I know that I can type much faster than the dictation software; two (and this is a personal note that only my close friends might know about me until now), I really hate the sound of my own voice. Let me explain the second reason. As a child with learning disabilities and need for both physical and speech therapy I went through several years of learning to speak correctly. There are certain sounds that I could not (and sometimes still cannot) distinguish between hearing them and nevertheless learning how to speak them. Thus, having to play with the dictation software is a ball of fun when I know it picks up on might incorrectly spoken sounds. Regardless of where I am at today, or how I feel about dictation or hearing myself dictate stories, blogs, articles, and poetry that I write it is my available outlet. As people at work are often hearing me say, "It is what it is."

If learning to dictate was not a large enough change in my writing style, the adaption to my current situation had yet one other curveball in play. I have never truly been a writer who writes by the seat of his pants. If you have read my blogs in The Writer's Lens you may get the sense that one of the authors whose methods I have studied is Earl Stanley Gardner and he was a plotter. His plotting methods I adapted this fit my writing, but I have never truly been a plotter either. I would plug the story up to the point, in my over desire to dig right in would take over and I would start writing the story in figuring things out as I wrote. My new existence as a caregiver for my mother cannot allow that previous process to work. That previous process required that I would be able to focus during a period of time that would allow my mind to see the story and spill it through my fingers on the keyboard. In some ways I saw my writing more as a chronicler and a creator as it seemed I was more trying to write down defense as they were occurring to my characters in their universe than planning those events.

The fact is, I must move past the "chronicler" stage. I mom's health has greatly improved, but she is in constant need of care and attention. I no longer get a night of unbroken sleep. Any mother reading this blog would probably be able to relate, and any of those mothers who are writers would relate even more, as I am having to and change the diapers of my mother multiple times a night just as if she was a baby — a 160 pound baby. When I return home from work, and relieve the caregiver who takes care of her during the day, I began another full-time job with constant interruptions (as an example, I was interrupted twice while writing these three pages) and fractures in the focus that I would need to write like I have been over all these years. I live my next step in this evolution is the requirement to become a plotter.

I hate outlining articles and I hate plotting, but I love writing more. As a result, I have been replanting the two novels that I would've hoped would have been ready back in August and as a result I believe I have made the plots stronger. I am close to finishing my replot of one of those novels and should start rewriting it from scratch sometime next month while juggling a much heavier workload at my bill paying job than I had previously ever known. So the need to become a plotter has grown even higher in necessity. I do not know if 2012 will be my breakout year or not. I do know that as a writer I find myself in a chrysalis from which I hope to emerge a much stronger and better author and poet.

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

1 comment:

  1. A great article! I think its very important for writers to be able to adapt. Its not easy but is unfortunately necessary at times.

    I wish you luck with your new schedule. Writing time is precious and when life throws us a wrench its hard. Hang in there!

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