I have an impending crisis on my hands. My hour-long (but only 12 mile) commute to work is going to change with my office’s January move from the Sunset Strip to Santa Monica. It’s five extra miles, but potentially another half hour or, I’ve heard, thanks to needing to cross the 405 corridor, another hour. I won’t know until I actually do the drive at rush hour.
Two to three or even four hours a day spent driving is not the writer’s life.
I am a woman of strong will. Even with this knowledge I realized that will be damned when it comes to the Holidays. Throughout the past year, which I had ample time to reflect upon during my red-eye plane-changing trip from Los Angeles to South Carolina, the will to write and the will to abstain from any distractions (that might impinge upon the party of the first will) held strong and steady.
I write. I have for so long. Poorly, generally, with brief flashes of “promise.” I have not yet published widely in the best journals, or have a book out despite the amount of writing I do, yet I keep at it. So the question is: why do it?
It’s because of books, of reading, and especially because of Mona Simpson.
These are the things that happen when you are faced with writing an outline:
• The sink in your bathroom starts spitting up murky, brackish water and you spend many valuable writing hours pouring toxic chemicals into the drain hole while wondering if you’re somehow poisoning yourself, even though you are wearing yellow Playtex gloves the entire time and brushing your teeth in the kitchen sink, just in case.
So the program begins. After receiving directives from my instructors, I was given the task of writing an outline. Now, this may seem a bit strange, but like many writers, I am not exactly the linear type. Haruki Murakami said it best:
“I don’t think about an outline when I’m writing a novel. Not one thought whatsoever. That’s because if you start thinking about an outline, you lose most of the joy of writing a novel. “
Always be closing. It’s not just for real estate salesmen. It’s for writers like me. Writers who are so close to finishing their books, they can physically taste it, see it in the bookstore window, feel the smooth cover when they sign a copy. Perhaps even one day in the near future, look back on this post and say, “Remember when?”
Now that the 2012 Fiction/Nonfiction cycle has begun, the new Mark participants, Monica Carter, Shanna Mahin, and Carl Peel, will be blogging every week.