writing about writing

The Write Drive

Posted by Flood on June 23, 2006

I don't know how to drive.

I don't mean that I drive poorly, I mean that I never learned to drive. It's a big confession for a grown woman to make. I am embarrassed when it comes up at gatherings becoming the focus of conversation.

"You should know by now!"

"Better learn before the kids do, ho, ho, ho!"

"How do you get around?"

"Easy way to get out of doing groceries."

What I usually do in those situations is get drunk and act like an idiot, making everyone thank God that I don't drive. Works like a charm.

We married poor, so we didn't have a car for a while. By the time we got one, I came to fear driving. We are on our fourth car, now, a soccer mom's dream. White van, with sliding side doors on both sides, dvd player, fully loaded, as they say, but I have no idea what that means. I've sat in the driver's seat and felt very small. It becomes completely out of context to me. It's like sitting all year in your desk in elementary school, and trying the teachers desk out. All perspective and familiarity is lost.

My neighbourhood is a blessing for walkers. Grocer, doctor's office, pub, parks, tennis courts, schools – all nearby. I can be anywhere in in my part of the world within half an hour, at most. Most trips, though, only take about a half hour to complete. At this point, I think the only thing that is going to get me driving is getting out of my comfort zone and becoming acquainted with a new part of the world.

So it is for writing. I've started very small, flash here and there, and I keep my big project a closely guarded secret. Just like I hate telling people that I am not sure I know the gas from the brake pedal, I hate admitting that I have no idea what I am doing with my book. I worry that I'm going to become complacent about doing flash and short stories and never test drive the car into an agent's office. I'm a quitter, a ruiner, a pessimist, sometimes and I disappoint myself.

I'm a creative person by nature. My spirit/chi/soul/call-it-what-you-will is begging to be heard. Who am I to let it down? These are the things I am going to do to help me help myself:

  • continue submitting short pieces out into the ether
  • make a concerted effort to get a rejection this year (from a mag or an anthology or something that uses paper)
  • keep writing the book
  • write daily, I don't care if it is a grocery list
  • adopt Little Puddle's joie de l'écriture
  • search blogs and websites to read about people who are close to making it
  • find a writing partner who is honest and articulate
  • ignore any writerly angst that threatens my mission

I meant it when I said that Scott's dare to suck idea is going to be my motto. I can't win if I don't drive. You will probably see me make lots of moving violations on the way. (I have read the driver's handbook. 6 times. I hate non-fiction.) When you do, give me a little help, huh?

Most of the people who read this blog are yet to be published. I know it's your goal, so I want to find out what your baby-steps are to getting out there. We are all at different levels, so your plans could help the rest of us. What works, what doesn't, how are you going to get to the finish line?


One Response to “The Write Drive”

  1. Flood said

    Whoa. That picture is a bus or something. Definitely don’t start out on THAT!

    You might not know it yet, but you are WAY beyond beginners’ angst. That’s the first secret I’ll let you in on. You have written very good fiction that you’ve shared with the planet. That is a huge step. And people have enjoyed it. That’s a huger step (if huger is a valid word, it shouldn’t be, LOL).

    Beginners’ angst is what you have before you slap something down in the public eye. You’ve done that and succeeded. So now you’ve moved on to normal writers’ angst. Hopefully, it never goes away. If it does, nothing is driving you forward.

    My planned path to being published? I view short stories as a vital process. Let’s face it. It’s easier to write a short story than a novel. It makes sense to build up.

    That said, absolutely nothing replaces the act of writing a novel. You can’t accomplish it any other way. If the first one isn’t good enough, write another one. If that’s not good enough, write another one. I’m on #2 after spending a ton of time on #1. I’m hopeful that #2 will make it, but if not, I already have plans for #3.

    “Dare to suck” is a great motto. My motto for the next stage would be, “demand that the next one is better.” Doesn’t matter if it’s your first or 50th novel. The next can be better.
    jason evans | Homepage | 06.20.06 – 11:21 pm | #

    Gravatar Guess what, Girl?
    I don’t drive either.
    We have saved thousands on insurance too.
    Write the book. It’s the only way to know what form you prefer.
    Bernita | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 7:44 am | #

    Gravatar Great comments so far. Jason said it just right. He reminded me of the first creative writing class I took, when I was afraid to even read to the class. That was beginners angst. On the contrary, you are blasting out short fiction and sharing it with the world. Well beyond what a beginner goes through. And of course, how much better support can you get than being told that someone else is having the same issue?
    Scott | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 8:28 am | #

    Gravatar Issues? Oh I getcher issues right here, please refer to existential crisis of yesterday.

    Seriously though, you’re doing well. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that writing is a skill. Sure you need talent, but the tools take time to master for most people. It takes patience (ugh) and putting one word after another on the paper. Write, submit, repeat. Say it with me…

    By the way, driving isn’t a requirement. Walking is great if you have everything close enough.
    Jaye Wells | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 8:51 am | #

    Gravatar You’re already so far ahead of the game you don’t even realize it. You have a plan, you have the determination, you have the talent. And you’re not afraid. I wish I could say the same for myself.
    Rebecca | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 9:56 am | #

    Gravatar I think that pic is of the cab of a truck? I liked it because of the pens on the dashboard. Good advice, Jason. Always be forward-thinking, right?

    Bernita! I’m glad to know I am not the only one. I am considering getting licensed to drive a VESPA, maybe. No 400-series driving though, which I don’t mind.

    Scott, that’s why community is so great, ’cause no one has feelings that have never been shared before.

    Jaye, boiling it down to write, submit, repeat is a great mantra. Doing it often enough means that you won’t lose sleep over the last thing you sent out as much as the next one to go. Right?

    Rebecca. ‘Course I am afraid. I am scared silly of being terrible or worse, making it. I comfort myself by knowing that it’s a common feeling. What’s your plan?
    Flood | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 10:12 am | #

    I don’t have a plan to be published. I feel published every day on my humble blog, and that’s fine with me for now. I used to have loftier goals. I’m not quite sure what happened. Maybe once I started editing and saw from the inside the stuff that does get published, the shine rubbed off a little. Does shine rub off? Darn metaphors.
    fringes | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 11:26 am | #

    Gravatar Maybe your blog is one of your baby steps?
    Flood | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 2:20 pm | #

    Gravatar I have no plan. I’m hoping that one day I’ll wander into a cabbage patch and there, under a leaf, I’ll find my book fully formed. Barring that, my backup is to keep at it and hope I don’t drive myself crazy in the meantime.
    Rebecca | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 3:19 pm | #

    I was excited and encouraged by the idea that, yes, yes, that’s it…my blog is one of my baby steps! Until I caught Rebecca’s cabbage patch vision. Finding my collection of short stories under a cabbage leaf is the official plan as of now. Thanks both of you for this life-changing visit to Haloscan!
    fringes | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 3:40 pm | #

    Gravatar I remember learning to drive. I was petrified. One time, I absolutely refused to back out of my driveway because I thought I saw the headlights of a car coming in my direction. It was pretty sad. Now, I’m one of those guys who accelerate really fast when the light turns green, just because it’s fun (don’t worry, though, I’m still safe.

    Wish I could say I was as confident about my writing. All I know is that I’m not yet at the level I want to be. Still, looking back at every project I’ve worked on, I can see the improvements that I made. And that’s what drives me (no pun intended) – I know that with every word I write, I’m getting better and getting that much closer to my goals.

    So, pedal to the metal, right?
    Cavan | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 5:23 pm | #

    Gravatar Rebecca, some of the best stuff comes out of crazy, you know.

    Fringes: Haha.

    Cavan, improvement is the key, you’re right. It like what Jason said about knowing that the next one can be better.
    Flood | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 5:59 pm | #

    Gravatar I just got home from my critique group meeting. I can’t tell you how important it is to have people you trust for feedback. Just when I think I’m fooling myself, they come back with a great critique of my work. I highly recomend it.
    Jaye Wells | Homepage | 06.21.06 – 10:30 pm | #

    Gravatar Rebecca said, “I have no plan. I’m hoping that one day I’ll wander into a cabbage patch and there, under a leaf, I’ll find my book fully formed.”

    Well, I did that with my first novel. And guess what? It had rained the night before and the whole thing was wet, AND muddy. I tried drying it out in the oven and it got burnt around the edges. Then I found it was still damp in the middle and it was growing mold, which aggravated my allergies so badly I couldn’t stop sneezing!

    So I put it in a big ZipLock bag and set it aside, and started on my Second novel.

    It hasn’t been near as easy, but My God, I don’t sneeze all day, either.

    Flood, I can’t tell you about getting past fear. That’s the demon you have to face on your own, it’s your very own private dragon you get to slay. No, there’s no cutesy way to tame or get by, you gotta slay the monster. And when you do, its wife and kids will dog you the rest of your days for killing their papa.

    It’s the way of the Writer, to have to do it on your own. Take all the advice you can get, but slay that Monster. You CAN do it. Put on some expensive gym shoes – sneakers, if you will – and just DO IT.

    And if you’re wondering, no, I haven’t killed off my Monster yet, either.
    For The Trees | Homepage | 06.22.06 – 4:23 pm | #

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