So today is the big reading day. And since that’s on my mind — the preparing, practicing, planning — I’m not getting as much done on the thesis as I wish. I’ve read one journal article. I’ve fiddled with my Works Cited page, because of course that always evolves as the paper gets written. I’ve reread the intro I’ve written on To the Lighthouse. It’s time to analyze the book, so of course I’m here, writing this post instead. It’ll gel soon, and I’ll hammer out a page or two (hopefully more) before time to figure out what I’m wearing tonight.
The cats have been driving me to distraction this morning as well. First, Nimitz has been a typical kittenish young cat: climbing screens, racing around the house, attacking Thumper, getting onto my sideboard and rattling crystal, attempting to use the desktop computer in the other room to spam the universe, and all the shouting in the world hasn’t helped.
And Thumper keeps coming over and begging for food. Soon as Nimitz calms down for two seconds, there’s Thumper, sitting at my feet, pawing at my leg, and meowing. It’s enough to make a girl want to go to the library!
But, this is a writing blog, so I thought I’d see if I could relate the process of thesis writing to fiction writing. I know I seem to be like any young college kid (oh, if only) who’s cramming and writing at the very last second, but the truth is I’ve been reading these texts for the last two years. The info is in there, so I’m not truly writing a 60+ page master’s thesis from scratch in three weeks. Apparently, I just don’t work in nice, manageable stretches. I meet my deadlines, but I’m usually doing it all at the last minute. I’ve prepared for it, but I just can’t seem to make it coalesce until I’m under pressure. Is this an indication of how my fiction-career is going to be?
When I write this fast, I don’t do much changing. I edit, of course, but what comes out is pretty finalized. I think it’s more natural, too. Fiction is somewhat different. I have no problem scrapping the execution of an idea and trying it another way. (Well, I don’t like it, but I’ll do it.) I’d throw a screaming fit if I had to do that with the thesis.
In the meantime, as I work at academic writing, ideas for stories keep popping up. I think it’s a natural avoidance response. My brain wants to stop working and start playing. That said, do you think it’s possible to trick your brain into working on your fiction when you feel blocked? What if you decided to write something really boring and technical, gave yourself an assignment and started researching and getting down to business? Do you think your brain would, assuming it works like mine, suddenly want to work on that story about Aunt Petunia that you’ve been stuck in for the last month?
Just a thought, and one I’m sure has been written about in various writer magazines. I do think, maybe, that for some people comfort equals diminished drive (hinging on the previous self-sabotage post). Don’t you know people who have day jobs and want so badly to be full time writers? They write all the time, whenever they can get a scrap of time, and work hard to achieve the goal. Some of them get there, too.
But what happens when you get the free time? When you don’t have to work or worry about the bills being paid or having health insurance? Is there a human tendency to slack when in comfort, or is it dependent on individuals? Do we need pressure to write?
I’d be interested in knowing how you feel about comfort versus pressure. (Speaking of pressure, I’m off to the land of the Woolf….)