The past few months have been interesting for me, not only because of all the change in my life, but due to my reading blogs a lot since joining the ROW. I have followed several medieval studies blogs for a long time, but find that I am reading them more these past few months as well.
I’ve mentioned on earlier check-ins the academic writing groups in which I’ve participated, as an accountability check for the academic writing I’m doing. What I am noticing now is the confluence between the two groups and the applicability of what I am learning in each venue for the work in the other venue. In the academic group, we have been talking a lot about starting to write, how to organize, how to finish by wrapping things up without taking away all the threads that lead to future research.
During this round, the harmonic resonance between the two groups is nearly mystical. Last week, the group explored how we start. When I start an academic article, I face the same blank screen that I do when writing my historical fiction. I realized with a shock that I do the same things to start. I read, I scribble, I doodle. I put a clean sheet of paper on my drafting board, take my fountain pen, and start. I let it sit for a while, then I draw all over it—asterisks to show where things move from and to, line through whole paragraphs, add in whole paragraphs with arrows pointing to the back of the sheet where my new writing lies.
But most importantly, I think about it, nearly constantly, at a level of dim white noise. I think for days, often, with the academic work; for weeks, and sometimes, years, for the creative work. Where am I heading with this? Heck if I know, but I suppose I’m finally learning that it’s okay; this is my process.
How did I do these past several days? Not perfect, but not bad. I nudged my test mile slightly higher, but not always to 300 words, especially if I count all the words I excised.
What have I learned: Honor the process. After reading about how I “should” (see my earlier check-in about “should”) be able to write a couple of books a year, after seeing (and applauding) fellow ROWers’ books come out, after letting myself feel bad about my pace, my ideas, my interests, I have FINALLY learned that it is really okay.
I’ve learned that there are some incredible writers out there who are writing thought-provoking, interesting blogs. When I first joined the ROW last summer, I thought I would never be able to come up with blog posts; now I realize that just responding to some of the posts I have read would carry me through a year of daily posts. I am far more limited by time than by topics. Thank you all!
Also, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that, to a degree, writing is writing. Working on an academic article keeps words flowing through the consciousness, and lets me feel their weight and size, even if the fiction mosaic is very different.
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