Though I began writing fiction at 9, I started writing personal reflections in my monthly column in La Voz de Berkeley when I was at Cal. I then created a blog, Mujer Hollering, inspired by that column, and more recently, my blog, Mujer Evolving. While writing fiction is a long-term goal, my #40blogsfor40days challenge is a great opportunity to share my work and honor my voice.
I have suffered from writer’s block for many years partly due to time management. So am I going to complete this writing during Lent? I decided to solve the problem this year by beginning my blogs as voice recordings. During my morning commute, I have been recording five minute voice memos to capture my thoughts. There’s plenty of writing material whether it’s personal experiences, music, TV, or themes I have pondered. The commute has allowed me time to do some uncensored reflecting. When I’m at the computer, I get stifled by the desire to wordsmith or produce a clear and concise piece in a short amount of time. Drafting differently gives me a chance to voice my ideas.
Then it is time to transcribe. I don’t type it word for word. I do some revision as I go. Sometimes I stop the playback as I tend to speak quickly. I don’t want to lose any key ideas. Once it’s transcribed, I read it. I start the editing process. I take out repetitious phrases. I rearrange paragraphs. I add topic sentences, details, commentary, and transitions. I was an English teacher for thirteen years so I have those skills to help me produce a polished piece of writing. The verbal rough draft and more intense editing process has allowed me to produce work that is much more coherent. I’m excited that this may be an opportunity to fully commit to writing on a more regular basis.
A longtime friend’s recent Facebook status update has been on my mind lately. I have been blessed by becoming a mother, a teacher, a mentor, a dancer. And though I am a writer, I feel that in the last few years, that has been in name and desire only. One of my fondest dreams and driving ambitions was to be a writer. Preferably one in print. So what stands in my way?
Ms. Dorothy Parker, one of the greats and one of my idols
I first began to write when I was nine. I was given an assignment by my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Lang, and I wrote a fanciful short story based on the Greek myths showcased in the now-campy Clash of the Titans. My best friend would draw the pictures and I would write the text and we’d publish a book someday. I continued writing novellas and novels until nearly 10 years ago. After that, it was exercises with my students, poetry, and yes, blogs.
My relationship to writing is not unlike my real-life relationships. Sometimes, I want and need to telenovela proportions. Other times I’m aloof and distant. Writing and I break to make up. We play is-you-is-or-is-you-ain’t. Sometimes, we don’t speak for years, months, weeks. I miss writing as if it were my best friend or my family when it’s not in my life. Still, I do a damn good job of placing it on the back burner when the mood suits me. I have a lot to learn.
These past months have been a time of silence. My voice and mind have been going, going, going but have not been captured on paper or in cyberspace. My job and my schedule have taken precedence over reflection and creation. I have lost my dog, one of my best friends, my naivete about the educational system, and my hopes over a crush gone bad. Fortunately, I haven’t lost my sense of humor or genuine need to express myself. I have often thought of my third novel, how a thorough revision and kick-ass query letter may get it off the ground. I want to write a new villanelle or maybe even a spoken word poem.
The other night, I told a friend that I seek to control. So much of my energy is spent planning, second-guessing, analyzing, trying to gain control of situations and my own emotions. It’s time to walk off the proverbial diving board, back into hope and back into the written word. It’s what I am.