Thursday, October 7, 2010

Workin' on some writin'

Just keep swimming.

When my novels first showed up on shelves, I got interviewed by a couple of local newspapers. One question they loved to ask was "You're a teacher, how do you have time to write?"

My standard answer was: I leave work around 3:30 and write until I hit 1,000 words. That's kind of a lie. I mean, it sounded good, it made me look good, and I always shot for 1000 words.

But it didn't always happen.

My real answer is I leave at 3:30 and write what I can. Some days it's 250 words. Some days it's 1,500. Today it was 640 and I stopped in the middle of a scene.

Listen, teaching is tough and mentally draining. Sometimes my brain just won't function enough to get me through a scene. Sometimes life gets in the way. I mean, it probably evens out 1,000 words a day in the long run, but it's never exactly 1,000 words.

But what I do love is when I'm teaching writing and something I say or a kid says or a colleague says in class something and it sets off that spark. When I have a moment of clarity about the piece I'm working on.

That happened the other day. I can't really remember what I was talking about in class, but a word I said sparked something. That afternoon, I got home and was really productive. The words flowed out of my fingers, I had a definite end point of the chapter in mind.

And the last sentence I wrote gave me chills.

And that's the fun of writing and teaching. You never know where the inspiration is going to come from.

And sometimes it doesn't come, but at least I get words down. At least I keep the forward motion.

It reminds me of that Dorrie from FINDING NEMO.

Just keep swimming.

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