I'll take it
Forward momentum, An Artist Residency in Motherhood, 9.5 writing hours per week, and starting to think about first readers
Thanks to the Ungodly Hour Writing Club, I have made more progress on the pond novel in the last two weeks than I did in the two months before that. There is something magical about committing to a group of (mostly) strangers, showing up for them just as they show up for you. It makes it easier to protect the time, harder to give in to distractions.
(By the way, I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but this club is FREE with the option of making a donation to Writing Co-Lab’s scholarship fund, so if you are at all interested in joining us for the last two weeks of it, you seriously have nothing to lose. And for my Midwestern readers, I know some of you are up at 4:30am anyway...)
Related to my recent revelation of Mama screen time, Wednesday was the last session of Writing for Mothers on Verge with Amy Shearn, and she shared with us (among lots and lots of useful resources!) An Artist Residency in Motherhood from the artist Lenka Clayton. I LOVE this idea of proclaiming that one will use the “fragmented mental focus, exhaustion, nap-length studio time, and other distractions of parenthood (as well as the absurd poetry of time spent with children)” as “working materials rather than obstacles to be overcome.”
The more I move toward this mindset, the more ease I feel. Thank you, Amy! (Also, Amy has her own excellent newsletter, How to Get Unstuck, which I highly recommend.)
For the last two weeks, in addition to the 5:30-6:30am writing Zoom and the 8:30-9am writing Zoom, I have spent two weekend hours at my neighborhood coffee shop. That’s 9.5 writing hours per week, and while I would of course love to have more writing hours, 9.5 feels pretty good. I’ll take it.
This week in writing
The first 250 pages of the pond novel are pretty solid, for a first draft. The novel takes place over a summer and is divided into three main parts, one for June, one for July, and one for August. June and July are pretty much done. August, which will be the shortest part, is what needs work.
I am so tempted to send these 250 pages to a few readers, just to get some feedback and validation, an extra boost of motivation to carry me through to the end. Daniel even offered to read them and help me figure out the end. But I have learned this lesson the hard way in the past: a reader only has fresh eyes once. I am trying to be wiser and more patient than I am.
This week in reading
I just began Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon, translated by Jenny McPhee. I love Ginzburg’s short, direct sentences, her use of repetition and recall, and her dry humor. This one is about her own family, living in Turin during the rise of fascism in Italy. From her unapologetic introduction:
“…. Perhaps someone will be unhappy to find themselves so, with his or her first and last name in a book. To this I have nothing to say…. Even though the story is real, I think one should read it as if it were a novel, and therefore not demand of it any more or less than a novel can offer.”
I like an introductory note from the author that tells you exactly how to read the book, when the author is Natalia Ginzburg.