Work in Progress #10: Writing and Living

I fCNW Bagel Shopinished chapter 6 at a week-long writer’s retreat where I was happily holed up in a cabin in Pennsylvania and had no distractions. There were no “real life” things to do like dishes and laundry and I was surrounded by thirteen other people, busily writing in their own cabins, which spurred me on.

The week following the writer’s retreat was a little different. I flew out to Seattle to visit my newborn granddaughter and her two-year-old big sister. I intended to do just a wee little bit of writing but, instead, spent some very happy hours being served a rubber macaroni and cheese by my two-year-old, taking her to the park and the library, and – of course! – holding the newborn.

But don’t think that writing wasn’t happening in the middle of that real-life living. Chapter 6 and the beginnings of Chapter 7 were at the back of my mind and percolating. Thoughts came to me and I scribbled them on scraps of paper and on the inside cover of the book I brought with me (but didn’t read!). These weren’t large thoughts, like moving whole paragraphs or deleting a section. They were small thoughts, like how to say something better in already-written chapters or the exact words I might use to open Chapter 7. Somehow, these small thoughts find their way into my head more readily when I’m busy and distracted than when I’m staring at my computer screen. I scribbled down multiple variations of my Chapter 7 opening sentence. Later, when I’m alone and concentrating, I know there will be time to decide which one to actually use. But while I was eating macaroni and cheese, I could audition those sentences one by one and even recall the ones I wanted to take a closer look at for second or third auditions.

Life and family and people are wonderful in and of themselves. The living of life is also a critical part of the writing process.