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What I'm writing

My weekdays give me two hour-long blocks of down time: the train ride to and from work, morning and evening. Mornings I've set aside for reading, as then I seem to be at my sharpest and most refreshed, which I need to fully engage with serious fiction. But when I'm tired I can't really focus well enough to read, which is why I've devoted my evening train ride to writing, which is a less passive and more mentally engaging pastime. The evening train is also essentially the only time I write, since when I'm home in the evenings and on weekends I focus on family time instead of the relative isolation that writing requires. (Yes, I'm surrounded by others on the train, but I keep totally to myself and have no "train buddies.")

Since my last update on my progress on Wheatyard (a post which seems, when I read it now, overly self-congratulatory and/or self-pitying), I've done almost no work on it. This despite originally wanting to have this draft finished (and readied for submission to publishers) by the end of December, and then (when that didn't happen) the end of March. What little writing I've managed during the past month was a flash fiction piece which, due to its brevity and derivative structure, didn't really require that much effort. The rest of the time I've squandered playing euchre on my phone, browsing The Reader, or napping, which puts me no closer to getting Wheatyard published than I was before. I might even be further away now, as what little momentum I had achieved a month ago was soon left behind.

None of this latest update is at all intended as self-pity, and I hope it doesn't come across that way. I'm just trying to impart what an ongoing struggle this book has been. Inevitably I have my sights on newer, fresher story concepts that I want to pursue, but I know that if I don't show any ability to finish a book - and Wheatyard, despite its stagnation, is the closest I've ever come to finishing - then thinking of other books is totally pointless.

This week I'm trying another tack. Over the weekend I burned three heavy albums onto my iPod - Hüsker Dü's The Living End (live shows from their final tour, in 1987), Minor Threat's Complete Discography and Sonic Youth's Dirty. Those albums are pretty out of character with the lighter, poppier stuff I usually listen to, and I thought it might jar me out of my evening-train rut - not only keeping me awake, but also away from euchre and focused on writing. Those three bands brought such power and passion to their art, and if I can inject even a tenth of that into my writing, it might be enough to get this book finished. We'll see.

January 31, 2011 in Fiction, Wheatyard | Permalink


I often feel the same. Uncompleted projects languish while I think about new ideas. However, my guilt over not completing existing work paralyzes and stops me from exploring the new. It's a catch-22 and pushes me to Angry Birds on my iPhone.

Posted by: Julie at Jan 31, 2011 12:17:39 PM

I guess we were made for each other.

Posted by: Pete at Jan 31, 2011 1:09:14 PM