Facebook has become the social addiction we all love to hate, or, more to the point, hate to love, so let me give it a plug. One of my friends, on a whim, started up this group called Your Important Personal Project, exhorting folks to set aside for a moment, for an hour, for a day, for even a few minutes, their computer-realted tasks and focus on some kind of personal art project. Signers-on (Likees? Likers?) can post and receive degrees of exhortation and open themselves up to gentle accountability.
It worked for me. While most of the soon-to-become-a-page posts tends to be visual, a few of us creative writerly types are also in, although it's harder.
If you're a visual artist, you can post your Ur-work simply by saving to .jpeg or,maybe, .tiff, and upload (I don't recall what Facebook is compatible with). If prose or poetry is your gig, you kind of have to cut and paste and offer up a post that looks like a rant exchange on gun ownership.
But I still did it a couple of times. I'm working on a novel, and I've gotten to the really hard part. I'll summarize The Hard Part by saying I know where things begin, I know where they end, and I know who the people are. It's the part in the middle that's hard--keeping things interesting, remembering what happened before and after the middle. Like that.
Novel writing is not a linear progression, although the finished product makes it look like that. Once a character takes on life, you, as author, can't control what that person does, and if you do, the narrative becomes tedious, boring, or--the ultimate worst--contrived.
When you go through the work of writing, your writing sometimes really bores the crap out of you in this middle part, and your resolve is severely tested. That you would really announce that you're writing a novel is problematic all on its own, since the mere fact of doing so is more marginal than starting up a restaurant: You mark yourself as a likely failure. Lots of people want to write a book. A tiny few actually do, and among those who do, the book, assuming it gets published, is often Meh squared.
I think most people who try to write a story, a book a memoir, whatever, has attended a "writers' seminar" or a "writers' group" or a class of some kind. I have. Lots of them, and my takeaway is that they tend to be support groups, where the members tend to whine about parents or bosses or whomever who were mean to them, and the instructor tends to make each aspirant feel that he/she has something valid in mind that really isn't the total crap the aspirant secretly thinks it is.
Writers' groups such as these have a place, but they can be (a) encouraging when none is deserved, or (b) destructive to the creative process. The why of these statements will have to wait for another post.
So, back to the Facebook group. It kicked me in the ass and made me get going. And that's enough, isn't it? I'm about ninety pages or so into a work that I kind of like, not counting the outtakes saved in other files, and I think--underscore think--it's going to get done.
And we're still asking for new members.
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