Friday, December 31, 2010


It's just another day, really, the last day of the year, and yet, because there is the ritual of changing calendars, it's an opportunity to reflect on the past year, come up with plans for the new year, and generally jerk out of the often automatic frenzied mode in which we seem to live much of the rest of the year.

So, when I think back to my writing this past year, I see all the books I was dying to write at the beginning of the year, but that I didn't get to. Yet.

Oh, if only I could be more efficient, the lament goes. If I were more efficient, my mind would pop from one idea to the next, with freshness and vigor and I'd have written more. It's inevitable, the self-flagellation. The regret.

And yet, there is the other side. That writing isn't a nine to five job. Stories take the time they take. Sometimes years of putting away before they fall into place. Several of my books have lain fallow as it were, for years, before coming to ripeness and publication.

And people write differently. The challenge is to find the way you write best, the way that works for you, and to make peace with it.

For instance, I know writers who are prolific, and they write in a way that is seemingly chaotic to me, with forays into multiple stories simultaneously.

But I can't do that. If I try and force a style of writing that isn't right for me, it's mind-splitting and ultimately, a waste of time.

For me it's important to take time to replenish the burp pot. Yup, burp pot. As in burp pot of ideas.

I sort of have this image of ideas simmering below the conscious mind, in a huge pot. And as you stir -- and often even when you don't -- ideas burp up.

That pot is filled with a stew of life experiences, the people you know, the books you've read, the things you've dreamed and done, your travels...

And sometimes, you just need to take time out to live. It all feeds that pot. Sooner or later, that mish-mash of life will burp up new ideas, fabulous ideas -- that is, fabulous to you ideas that you must write about.

So, my end of year reflection, while still tinged with regret for the books that didn't get written yet, also includes an acceptance that some stories take time, and that all the time I spent not writing was still feeding that pot.

Excuse me while I burp.

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