Do Commandments work for you? Well, believe in them or not, they seem to be shall we say - unforgettable.
And I've had commandments on my mind of the writerly type. These are my commandments that sometimes I keep and sometimes I break but I thought they might be worthy at least to share with a few writerly types out there.
1. Thou shalt not talk about what thou writest. Even to your writerly friends. Or your mother. Or over bourbon to your best good buddy on the right and the stranger on the barstool to your left.
I have broken this commandment to a thousand squared this year. I don't know why. I usually don't do this. I'll offer a sentence maybe but not the entire plot, series, days offerings of words. Maybe I've just been excited about the story, or because it's something different, or - who knows? But I'm certain it has not assisted me in getting the story finished! Because writers usually use their energy to talk about their story or to write their story. No need to explain which one they are supposed to choose.
Thou shalt not undertake painting, sorting, organizing, and remodeling everything in your house and life that you have lived with JUST FINE until it was time for you to write your story.
(My bathroom has been completely overhauled. Enough said.)
Thou shalt not watch the entire trilogy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back because you need inspiration. Or for that matter and entire season of Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, or House of Cards
Escaping the fact that you haven't met your writing goal by watching something that some other writer completed . . . yeah, you get it.
Thou shalt not surf the web for research for one quick thing such as a photo of commandments and then find that you are reading a righteously, good blog on blogging, and then surfing over to how middle age used to look like old age which leads to surfing for healthy choices, which leads to . . . five pm and no writing done. _
(Stay tuned for the other thou shalt's and shalt not's.)
The art of finishing. Everyone loves the moment of take-off. The inspired idea, the first fresh words on the page. I even love the moment the wheels first lift off the earth when I'm literally cloud bound. It's my favorite part. The landing? Not so much. I don't mind, it doesn't really frightened me. As long as I hear or feel that landing gear come down. But still, landing is seemingly more complicated. Finishing, truly finishing, is a real line to cross.
I have a tendency to begin cleaning out drawers, closets, files. But then something interrupts me. It's usually something honest. A friend or baby in need. A doctors appointment. A meeting, a phone call, a package. But then I have things everywhere and the job isn't complete. The same can happen when you are writing. You find that your characters are everywhere. Your plot seems to be running rampant like a herd of ferrel cats and the finish line seems a long, long way off. Possibly downright impossible. But as Anne Lamont wrote, it's bird by bird. It's one ferrel cat at a time. It's one word, one sentence, one page, and one chapter after another.
Think of all the major works that would not have been without an artist being willing to go the distance. (Yes, you can insert the Rocky music now.) If big 'M' had gotten a bad neck issue and just given up on the Sistine Chapel then I wouldn't have been slapping people that were snapping pictures of the finished product when I was there. OK - side story.
Husband and I were in Italy a few years back. Doing it on budget on a shoestring. Staying in hostels. (Yes, you can get a private room with a bathroom in it. It's called 'the married room'.) Riding local trains (DO NOT STICK YOUR HEAD OUT THE WINDOW NO MATTER WHAT!) And eating out of local groceries. IN the middle of this wild trip for 2.50 (almost) we went to the Vatican and to the Sistine Chapel. I was so excited to sit and lean back and look UP! To see these marvelous images in person that I had viewed all of my life.
It was August. Height of the tourist season. And there were two major signs. No talking. No taking pictures. This made sense. So that people could quietly be in awe. And, I figured if you were not sufficiently awed you could just leave and go see something else like where the lions ate people.
What did people do? They talked in forty thousand different languages. And took pictures. Click, click, click, ramble, ramble, ramble. Click, click, click. The polite guards continued walking through saying, No talking. No pictures. No talking, no pictures. And as soon as their backs were turned click, click, click. So I slapped them all and took away their cameras and phones.
Only in my mind, mind you. Not one of my more holier moments. But hey, I was trying to see an extremely incredible holy piece of art there. (If you are one of those Sistine chapel photo takers - I most respectively request that you - Stop. it. And slap the person next to you who does.)
Back to writing.
That Italian painter artist dude, the big 'M' kept painting until it was finished. And that statue of David? Saw that, too. All finished. Down to the details if you know what I mean. He pretty much got serious about what he started. At least what he deemed worthy to complete.
This week my author friend JT Ellison finished her most recent novel. My writer friend Gaynell Buffett Payne finished her novel. My writer friend, Brenda McClain has finished her novel and has three agents READING what she finished. (Major Congrats and Kudos my good buddies.)
I'm nearing the finish line on this Nashville noir novel. I intend to finish. Soon. I deem it worthy.
And if we can do it, trust me - if I can do it - You can do it too. Find your worthy. Then find your finish!
I just can't seem to maintain and juggle my world. Not my world of family and dogs and dentist appts and social media posts and radio and and and
But the problem is. I. don't. stop. thinking about writing. Until - I, yes, write.
So whatever tricks it takes to paste me to the chair, I have to learn to do again and again and again. It occurs to me that the trick, the one special trick, that I might discover that would make that job easier, make it an easy thing, is never, ever going to happen to me.
I'm sure other people have a formula that fits. I know a writer guy that basically goes to his dungeon otherwise known as the basement every morning and he stays there. I mean stays there for real until his story is finished. It doesn't matter how many grandchildren need a sudden pick up from school, no sick babies, no momma's, no daddy's, no dogs, no bills, no meals. He writes.
I hate him.
Or, at least I jokingly say I do. Fact is. I'm jealous that he is that defined and determined. And so (insert explicative here) relieved that I am not. that. way.
I have a big, beautiful, crazy, sloppy, life. And, if I give myself half a chance, an early morning sunrise, Susan Tedechi playing in the background, the oil lamp lit, prayers offered - I can write like the wind. Like nobody but me. And crank off another few words or lines of a story that captures my heart and imagination and hopefully, soon, very, very, soon - will capture the heart of readers.
This writing life continues. River Jordan style.
River Jordan is a real writer in the real world whose imagination can take her to far away places where room service never ends and the hotel bookstore is always open.