Sunday, June 17, 2007

Christine Rimmer says...Oh, Be-have!

Oh, Be-have!

I know I should. But…

Honestly. Truly. I am really, really trying to behave.

With my current work-in-progress, I mean. Hah. Had you going there for a minute, didn’t I?

Seriously, though. All professional writers know the drill. We’ve read the best books on the subject, books like Anne Lamott’s amazing, true and inspirational, Bird by Bird and Julia Cameron’s fabulous The Artist’s Way and just about anything by Natalie Goldberg

The drill is simply this: Show up. Get to the page every day, make page goals. Hit them—hmm. That sounds rather violent—well, and then, you know what? Writing, in its own way, is violent, on occasion. There’s a lot of digging that goes on, hitting the vein, watching the blood spurt and all that, going places within that sometimes aren’t pretty. Because there’s no getting around it. If you’re writing something you hope someone will put down their hard cash to read, you’ve got to deliver, baby. And all the clichés are absolutely true on this whole delivery thing. You may groan when someone tells you, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Groan all you freaking want. You better be crying when you write that reconciliation scene. You’d better be taking a page from Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, sobbing your heart out, buried in wet tissues, moaning, “God, that’s good…”

And am I carrying the whole “writing as a violent activity” a bit far? Okay, okay.

I’ll try again. Make page goals. Achieve them. Yes, much better…

And really, what was my original point?

Wait. I remember…

Funny, but behaving—in the writerly sense, as defined above—used to be easy for me. When I was starting out as a writer, I behaved as a matter of course. I didn’t have all day to write. It wasn’t my actual job or anything, so when I came to the page, it was glorious, naughty, exciting, stolen time.

And even for the first few years after I began to support myself with my writing, it was all just one big miracle to me: That I got paid for the writing, which meant I could write more, because I didn’t have to spend eight hours a day slaving away at some day job just to eat and make the rent.

But slowly, over the years, my sense of the naughtiness, the lovely, amazing stolenness of my work has…eroded? Degraded?

Whatever. Now, well, you know, it’s my job. And it’s become so tempting to find clever ways to make it naughty again.

This is the true scariness of the human mind. Well, at least my mind, which is a place only I go and everyone is happy about that. Just ask my family…

So. Clever ways to be naughty. Oh, like for instance, not showing up at the page for a few days. And then freaking out when I get there and realize no veins have been opened recently. I have to start at the beginning and build my story, my world, my characters’ reality. It’s very exciting, in a very emotionally violent way.

And, honestly, it is not a good idea. It is not the way to go.

So here I am on my current project, and I have, honestly and truly, been behaving. Not just trying. Actually behaving. I show up daily, I achieve my page goals.

And you know what? I feel…really good about that.

Though naughtiness does tempt me. And I’ve decided that’s good. I need to be naughty right there on the page. I need to always remember the miracle that is this job.

I guess I always secretly believed it would get easier. It just doesn’t.

All of which, Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron could have told me. And did.

How about you? What are your clever ways to be naughty and not show up for work? Come on. Whether you’re a writer or not, I know that you know ways you are naughty.


Oh, and to the left is the cover of my latest, THE MAN WHO HAD EVERYTHING,out from Silhouette Special Edition in July. I believe it's my 63rd book, or thereabouts. So even when I'm not behaving, I'm still getting books written now and then...

And whether you're behaving or not, here's to the best summer ever--and a whole lot of wonderful summer reading for everyone!


deseng said...

Oh my being naughty eh? Well, the thought has never crossed my mind when it comes to writing a book. I write reviews though.

Gosh, if I have to tell something naughty about it, I would have to say that it takes me snacks, a glass of ice tea, no interruptions from gabby husband, and some quiet jazz music to get me into the mood to write. If my creative writing streak doesn't hit right away, I get up, do some laundry, vacuum, house chores, etc. then I go back and try it again.

There are days when I can't seem to write anything at all. Other days it just seems to flow so easy. What is up with that?


Mona said...

Well.. I used to work for a while, now I'm between jobs but being at work was actually so much fun than being at home so I never really needed to be naughty. Thought don't get me wrong Christine, I am naughty, it just doesn't show:)

Christine Rimmer said...

Michele, housework! Don't get me started. I actually like it--how weird is that? I'll be staring out the window, thinking of my characters. And realize I should actually be cleaning the window! Help!

Here's to many days of flowing easy in your writing world.

Mona, that's not fair. To be naughty and not have it show...I so need some of that. ;)

Lois said...

Well, I dont' have a job and presently on a long to explain break from school, but the closest thing to your actual topic I can say that I did that was naughty was while on the computer, if I'm supposed to be writing up a lab report for science or writing out reports, I'll keep going to get my email or if all else fails, play solitaire. LOL :)


Christine Rimmer said...

Lois, I know about that solitaire naughtiness. It's one of the few I don't have myself, but most of the people I know have it. You're in excellent company trust me.

Re the naughty behavior of checking email in place of working...ouch. You so got me there. I keep meaning to stop that.

Honestly. I do...