Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Fork in the Writing Road

I've reached a new stage in my pregnancy. I'm hitting 37 weeks on Monday, which pretty much means I could go into labor any time within the next 5-6 weeks. That's a long period of time. I'm not going back to work, since the school year starts after my due date. I'm as prepared for this baby to come as I can be, both physically and mentally. At this point, all I have to do is keep taking good care of my body, rest and relax, and play the waiting game.

But I've never been good at either waiting or relaxing. I like to keep my mind engaged. I can only watch TV for so long, and I've already done quite a bit of reading. I can't travel far or make any elaborate plans outside the house. What I'd like to do is take advantage of this time to write something.

For a few years now, I've been trying to find my writing niche. First, I started researching a novel, but had to backtrack when I realized I had no idea how to go about it. So I read a lot of books about writing. Then I took some fiction writing classes, where I started working on short stories. I even tried to get one of them published, but I gave up after a few attempts. I returned to the novel-writing with more skills and a new topic that I was excited about. I wrote about 75 pages before taking another writing class, which took some of my time away from the novel and devoted it back to short story writing. And then I got pregnant, and haven't felt well for most of the pregnancy, and so I haven't written much since, other than blog posts and my daily journal entries.

At this point, I have two problems with my writing:

1. I am interested in many different styles and genres of writing, and find it difficult to decide what to devote my time to. Novel? Short story? Memoir? Magazine articles? I have ideas and interest in all of these. But I can't produce anything of substance without choosing a path and sticking to it. What goal do I choose for myself?

2. I find it very difficult to work on any project that has no set deadline or accountability standard. I know myself to be a goal-oriented person and a hard worker. I was very good at school, because I knew what was expected of me, and I always delivered. I'm good at my job for the same reason. But with writing, something that for me is more than a hobby but not quite a career (yet), I have no goals, no deadlines, no expectations beyond what I give myself. Taking writing classes is a great way to create that accountability for a short period of time, but I can't go broke taking endless classes (especially when they don't lead to a degree) and I won't have the flexibility to take anything other than an online course for the next year or so.

I don't see myself coming up with a solution to either of these tonight, but the act of writing them down clarifies it for me. I do want this pre-baby time to be productive and personally fulfilling, and I think writing is the way to make that happen. It may even keep me sane after the baby is born; writing is a proven fighter of the "baby blues." I just need to choose something to work on, make some small, achievable goals for myself, and stick to it with some blind faith that it will turn into something good. And if it doesn't, I have to believe that I'm doing it for a reason. Even if that reason is just to call myself a writer.

1 comment:

  1. I vote memoir, even if no one ever reads it but you. I know you journal and I think this time would be best spent doing just that- writing down how you feel and what you are experiencing.

    There are many reasons that there are so many "mommy bloggers" now- and "mamarazzi" photographers too- but many of them get started just to document that amazing time in life when you are about to become a mom, and right after. It all goes so quickly and sleep deprivation can be a memory-stealing, mind-numbing thing. Write it down and you'll be able to look back and laugh and smile at all the memories that you are about to make!

    And as far as a deadline- there's a real sense of immediacy in protecting and preserving those memories! (I'm the perfect example- I have my blog with all the girls' memories and milestones and pics, but their baby books are nearly blank! Someday I'll get around to filling them in!)