This past week I had the fabulous opportunity to go to a writer's retreat hosted by ANWA. 30 women in a gorgeous cabin for 3 days of writing and sisterhood.
For me this was a huge step in admitting that I'm taking this writing thing seriously. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels like if you're spending money on something, especially money on myself, it had better be worth it. And frankly, I wasn't sure if I was worth the nominal fee to participate. I've struggled so much with my writing lately, with little confidence that my writing was worth the effort and time away from my family. And I've never finished anything of real substance. Maybe part of this writing experience has been figuring out who I was as a writer, that as much as I'd like to be a pantser and not have to go through the "work" of writing an outline (even a loose one), I'm too much of a navigator. I need to have a road map, even a vague one. I've also realized that I've let my internal editor run rampant, instead of keeping her in her place for the end of the work. I take so long to finish something (and get discouraged and quit) because I'm so afraid to break the rules. And by the rules I mean things like not using adverbs or passive voice or purple prose. I try so hard to make the first draft be perfect, I get frustrated when I have to rewrite it because it suddenly doesn't fit in anymore.
So now, after my writing confessions, for me to go to this retreat was a real step forward. I had to commit to hours of writing because I had no excuses to NOT write anymore in a place where all my needs were met and I had no one to care for but myself.
I had to learn to let go. To write and write and write and not let my editor say much of anything. It took a while. She's used to being in charge, that editor. So by the end of the retreat I was writing pure dreck, telling and adverbing all over the place. BUT...............the words were on the page, to be massaged and edited later. And not being afraid of writing the garbage, because I have no problem editing the yuckiness out. It's only when I think it's already perfect that I resist the idea that I need to edit. But if it's already gross...eh. Who cares if I have to edit? And I can do that later, at my leisure. I don't have to do two jobs at once, writing and editing. It's like driving and talking on the phone at the same time. We think we can do two different things, but we can't focus completely on either one, and end up doing both jobs poorly.
In the end I was able to write thirty pages, a BOATLOAD for me. It was great. And it's garbage. But it's MY garbage, and it's on my PAGE instead of floating in the ether in my head. And that is something to celebrate, a small victory that makes me think that there is hope at the end of this writing tunnel.