When I was young, I treated recipes with undue reverence. I assumed that the unknown creators possessed knowledge and wisdom that I did not, to the point where, at age eleven, I consulted the back of the SpaghettiOs can to see how long I should cook them and at what temperature. (The instruction to “cook until heated through”—no time, no temperature—left me flummoxed.)Continue reading
Photo credit: Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash
Is there anything more delicious than a new word?
Yes: the moment you realize that a true artist has used that new word. Brilliantly. Continue reading
For fourteen days, I wrote 1,000 words every day. Regardless of whether I had anything to say, I wrote. I produced words, sentences, paragraphs. I met the challenge.
I expected that at the end, I’d have developed a new writing practice that would have me writing 1,000 words a day forever.
What I didn’t expect was to be so freaking exhausted. Continue reading
Chariots of Fire, 1981
Day Fourteen: Done. 1,017 words.
So, that’s it. For fourteen consecutive days, I’ve written 1,000 words every single day. Some fiction, some material for blog posts, some stream-of-consciousness. No matter how I’ve felt—good, bad, energized, tired, inspired, dry—I’ve written.
I don’t know yet if this was a good challenge for me. Certainly it came at a hard time, but it’s not as if we’ve had any particularly easy times in the past few months. Still, before I decide whether to keep pursuing it on my own, separate and apart from the official challenge, I need to assess what occurred over these two weeks.
Certainly some good has come out of it. I’ve begun what I think will be a novella but could, in fact, be more. So far, I like it. Would I have done this if I hadn’t felt compelled to write something every day? Unlikely. So that’s a point in favor of this challenge.
On the other hand, I’m grateful that it’s over. Forcing myself to write 1,000 words every day creates in me the fear that I could end up hating writing. Maybe a completely unwarranted fear, or maybe a very reasonable concern. Again, something to think about.
In any case, I did it. Many, many thanks to everybody who has participated with me—those who’ve written, those who’ve read these posts or tweets, those who’ve commented, those who’ve come alongside in spirit. Writing is a solitary business. It’s good to have friends cheering you on, none more so than Jami Attenberg, the creator of this challenge who sent out daily emails to inspire us all and keep us writing.
Photo credit: Anna Tukhfatullina (Unsplash)
Day Thirteen: Done. 1,063 words.
I’m done early today!
Last night, I found myself poking around on my college alumni directory website and Googling random people I recalled from college. I was surprised at who turned up on Google and who didn’t. An idea began to form, along the lines of some of Maeve Binchy’s works where she tells a story by devoting a chapter to each of the characters. And so this morning I started something—maybe a novella, maybe a short novel—involving a handful of former classmates and an impending reunion.
I could easily worry about how the overarching structure, i.e., classmates at a reunion, has been pretty much done to death, but the truth is that Solomon was probably right:
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
So I’ll take my shot (another phrase that’s been used before). If it works, great. If it doesn’t, maybe parts of it will be useful elsewhere. And if the entire thing turns out to be crap, at least I tried, and that counts for something.
Day Eleven: Done. 1,003 words.
I really didn’t want to write tonight. I’m exhausted and depressed, and the last thing I wanted to do was to focus on creating something. But I had this challenge, and it’s only fourteen days, which isn’t all that much to start with anyway, and this is only the eleventh day which is obviously even less, so I pushed myself to write something because I figured something was better than nothing.
I don’t know if it was or it wasn’t. Maybe it’s like exercise, and sometimes you push yourself to run a mile even when you feel like crap and all you want to do is sit in front of the television and binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy which, for the record, is exactly what I wanted to do except I was never, ever going to be running a mile, except writing 1,000 words felt a lot like running a mile, or at least I assume it does because I don’t run.
So I wrote a ramble which, in case you’re not familiar with rambles, is pretty much like this post except this post is much more organized because it consists of more than one sentence, and the trick with a ramble is to tell an entire story in a single sentence. Tonight’s ramble didn’t really have a plot—in fact, truth be told, it was closer to being a journal entry except I don’t type journal entries, but if I’d done a journal entry in my journal, it would have taken forever because I’d have been doing it by hand and I’d have had to keep stopping to count words instead of just looking at whatever Word said was the length of the document, so typing my ramble was at least faster and lent itself to a greater word count which is how I hit a thousand words at all, and for what it’s worth, this blog post is turning out to be another three hundred and change, which isn’t bad for a ramble although, as I said before, this one isn’t really a ramble since it has several sentences, but it’s not a bad shot at one, so here’s my advice: if you don’t feel like writing and you have to write for some reason, try writing a ramble and see how long you can go on without starting a new sentence because either you’re just going to spew out everything that’s in your brain that’s making you tired and depressed or you’re going to turn a corner and start to have fun with it and either way, there’s no downside (and not for nothing, but I’m now past four hundred words on this blog post, so you see how fast you can get into the habit of continuing to write once you start a ramble).
Oh, and one more thing: sometimes you can even get a ramble published, so that’s another reason to try it, plus if you don’t click on this link, you’ll never know why I used this particular photo today.
Day Ten: Done. 1,007 words.
Just in under the wire. So exhausted, and I definitely wouldn’t have done a thing if it weren’t for this challenge. Not certain if that’s good or bad.
In any case, it’s done.
Day Nine: Done. 1,538 words.
This time, I did a blog post. You’ll see it right before this post. It’s about slow cookers. Not exactly a profound topic, and I don’t know why I wrote it except that I was so thrilled with the notion of coming home from a day of errands to find my dinner ready when I don’t have a spouse, child, or cook to prepare meals for me.
Whatever. I ate, I drank, and I wrote. By any reasonable definition, a satisfying day.
Day Eight: Done. 1,715 words.
Some days, you just have to write fluff. I mean fluff. Pure escapism, with no particular literary value, and certainly nothing profound. Work that has as its only goal making somebody—maybe the reader, maybe just you as the writer—laugh.
Not brilliant satire, the kind that takes some amazingly talented person hours to create and edit and hone into a fine-bladed wit. Just plain old garden-variety, laugh-while-you-read-it-and-then-forget-all-about-it fluff. All the intellectual nutrition of cotton candy.
Yep. Some days, that’s just exactly what a person needs. Like me, today. I wrote cotton candy. And it was good.
Day Seven: Done. 1,316 words.
Instead of working on my novel tonight, I wrote a biography for Rascal, a lovely tuxedo cat I met at the shelter on my birthday, just before lockdown. The bio should be up on the Protectors of Animals website and Facebook page within the next few days. If you’re in Connecticut and looking for a dignified kitty companion who will curl up in your lap and purr, providing warmth and comfort in these challenging times, Rascal may be just the guy for you.
I also worked on a blog post. I don’t know if it’ll ever be posted—at the moment, it’s more musing than anything else as I work through the question of what my role is in this challenging time. If I come up with something I think is worth sharing, I’ll post it.
Update as of Friday afternoon: Rascal’s bio is on POA’s Facebook page. No word yet on when their website will be updated.