What would goals be if you actually accomplished them on a regular basis? I mean what can I learn if I am always successful? Nothing, really.
Take this week for example. If I had achieved my goals I would have written every single day for at least an hour. Doing so I would have completed my first draft of the short story that I have been working on and I would be setting it aside to let it ferment for at least a week. At which time I would then begin the editing and revision process. While this would be wonderful, it didn’t happen. In all I wrote for a grand total of one, yes one, day. In total a mere 500 or so words were added to my work, all of which were on the first day of the week.
What was I doing the rest of the time when I should have been joyfully hunched over my laptop? Nothing really. I didn’t do anything aside from run errands, nap, do laundry, and watch a little TV. While normally a week such as this would deflate what little positive self-esteem I have, resulting in me questioning my ability to actually pull this writing thing off. But this time it didn’t happen.
I found myself on Tuesday at my local bookstore chain, Chapters, interviewing for a seasonal sales associate position. I mean since I have already decided that I am a cliché in many ways, why not try and go for it with gusto. So there I was, a liberal arts grad student already possessing two liberal arts bachelor degrees, interviewing for a minimum wage job at a bookstore. The only thing more cliché would be trying to work at Starbucks. Since I don’t drink coffee and already spend a significant amount of time throwing back venti hot chocolates, I figured I didn’t want to ruin my happy refuge from the boredom of my house.
But I digress. Back to the story at hand. After my interview I wandered over to the writers section of the story to see if they had the 2012 copy of The Writer’s Market or The Canadian Writer’s Market. After all, I do intend to try to sell this short story I am working on and hopefully a few more. While searching I saw several self-help books for writing fiction and short stories. At first I actually chuckled when seeing them and thought how foolish someone would have to be to actually buy one. But then it hit me … I can always look at one to see if it isn’t a total waste of money. Now, I don’t know if I will ever buy one but it might help … someday. I guess the same goes for blogs about writing. They may not all be a waste of time and good information is still good regardless of the source.
So I flip one open and by serendipitous circumstance I find myself looking at a page title “7 Habits of Effective Writers”. I quickly scan the bullets beneath the title and one seems to stand out. To paraphrase, it simply said that I needed to look for the stories that exist all around me. At first I thought this was foolish as I want to write a fantasy book and the events that transpire in my day to day life have little in common with the world that I am creating in my head. It was a second later when I found something had triggered in my mind. It was this thought that changed my perception of the world around me or perhaps better said I changed my perception of my relationship with the world around me. I need to perceive the world not as a father, husband, school teacher, and passive participant. I need to observe the world as a Writer.
What changed was how I looked at the people I encountered this week. I didn’t try and think about their stories or the stories that were evolving around them. I found I was looking at people and observing their behaviors and physical characteristics, thinking the whole time about how I might incorporate them into the characters in my writing. It amazed me, as the week progressed, how readily available unique characters are in the world. I have found at least two individuals that will end up in my novel in some form.
So while I did not make any progress in actual writing this week, I did make progress in my development as a writer and that is important to me. Progress is progress, even when it is not physically observable.
Oh … I didn’t get a call back about the job.