Sunday, February 7, 2010

what a day of writing can do to a person

One of my favourite blogs (check it out, as a reader and as a writer I highly recommend) suggested that anyone who loves writing join her on Write Your @ss (I don't know - how do you pronounce that??) Off Weekend. The challenge was simple: choose one day this past weekend to do nothing but write.

Living in an Indonesian village hours from people I know and with few if any offerings by way of entertainment, this challenge seemed like a good opportunity to discipline myself to do what I should have been doing anyway.

Are there any writers who read my blog? If so: this is a good idea. Choose a day and plop yourself down to write, because the next Moonrat-sponsored Write Your @ss Off Day won't be for another year, and this was too cool to have to wait a year to do. If you really love writing, then an activity like this is pure joy. At least it was for me - although I spent a lot of the time translating my book, which required a bit less squeezing of creative juice than other writing activities.

Since this is my blog so I can do this, I here provide you with my running log of the day:

Today's Write your @ss off and I'm finally sitting down to get to work at 11:30. They said we were supposed to do 8 hours, but I can't do anything for 8 hours so I'm shooting for 6. That means ending sometime around 6 p.m. assuming I take a few minutes to eat, wander around, chat with colleagues... ok, perhaps more like 6:30 or 7:00. We'll see how it goes, anyway. God sure has a sense of humour because the Internet's down! I know I was going to sit here and re-check my email every 5 minutes, even though no one ever writes me on a Sunday, and ditto for my facebook. Maybe I'd browse some of my friends' photos. But no. Here I am writing. I haven't put together a plan for how to spend today, but here are the things I would like to consider accomplishing:

- Translate 1-2 chapters of Medina. It's almost done, this could be like the last big push.
- Try out writing a prayer. My prayer life is pretty dreary now, which is inexcusable considering that I'm living in a place where there are few people to distract me and I'm coming out of a difficult season meaning I really don't have much to depend on other than God.
- Write a story. In the ideal world I would start my next book, but I don't know if I can do that if I'm so distant from the world I write about. But could I come up with a short story about someone here, or perhaps in Timor Leste?
- Post something on my blog

Seems reasonable?! Who knows. I've never written more than 3 or 4 hours in a day before, and that was probably academic writing which involved as much copying out of a textbook as it did my own creative thought. Eight hours? Can't even imagine... only if that involves lots of times spent procrastinating. In which case I can say my day started an hour and a half ago when I went out to take a walk and listen to inspirational music.

11:41: Internet's back. Which is good, because I do need the online translator... But I'll keep skype on invisible in the very unlikelihood someone might want to chat

15:12: Have translated one chapter. Took a while, but I only have one more chapter and the epilogue left! Almost done!!! Maybe two more days after today, assuming I get a bit more done today.
Honestly, translating is a lot less painful than writing from scratch. I fear it may be an excuse to avoid writing... Hmm.

15:39: Wrote a blog about the things I enjoy without seeing them (like enjoying the sunset without seeing the sun setting)
The easy things are done, huh.

16:35: Done prayed, wrote it all out. This day is going by too quickly. Yes, I'm getting distracted, but nothing like I'd imagined I would - but still, I've got 1-2 hours left and want to translate another half a chapter, PLUS force myself to write something creative.

17:19 OK. Time to stop faffing around. I did a little bit of the LAST chapter translation, but if I'm going to start writing something creative, I'd better get started.

18:26 I wrote a little story. I tried to think of the childhood of my landlady in Timor. I don't know what it was like, so I made it up. It's a rushed little tale, and I have no idea how accurate or authentic it could be, but at least I did something!

And now the sun is setting and I don't want to miss that, so... bye! (7 hours almost non-stop. not bad)

I went to watch the sunset which was gorgeous, and after that I enjoyed dinner with some co-workers. Then went on with my evening. But the strangest thing happened. The beautiful feeling of accomplishment I felt after writing gradually transformed into longing, then deep pondering, and by the time I went to try to sleep, I was downright restless. Like it was too much of a good thing.

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