Monday, July 9, 2007

Wherefore art I?

No, I'm not dead. A confluence of life events this past month has pretty much wiped me out, though, so that blogging has been a bit less of a priority. I don't care to go into specifics, but at any rate the normality of life has been interrupted by a few family medical emergencies, several large batches of new work at my day job all at once, and also the Independence Day holiday and the attending family visits. Some good stuff, some bad stuff, a large amount of stress from various items, a smaller amount of relaxation to recuperate.

That's largely what the art I've been doing over the past few weeks was all about; relaxing my brain. As a writer, you'd think that I would find writing relaxing, that I would find my solace from the world into escaping into the worlds that I create. I suppose that's partly true; certainly, if I stray away from writing too long, I get really antsy to get back to it. But in truth, I don't think that any career (or hobby, or anything else) should dominate one's entire life, or all of one's leisure time. That seems to be the impression that a lot of writers give on the Internet: that to be a successful writer, you must let writing consume virtually your entire life.

I posit that this is not true. Certainly, you must be prepared to let writing consume virtually your entire life on occasion--say, during revisions, or at the end of the novel when things are really flowing fast or a deadline is looming. That seems quite reasonable to me. However, keeping that mad pace (or anything close to it) up at all times seems to me to be, well -- mad. As writers it is expected that we have stories to tell, things to write about. In order for that to be true, I should think it an obvious corollary that writers must thus have lives of their own; after all, if most of their life experience comes from reading and writing alone, they aren't likely to produce much that is startlingly original.

Perhaps some of you will read this as a long-winded excuse for the fact that I have not written anything new for about two weeks now. Feel that way if you must, but someday I hope you'll find that you are able to take long breaks of your own. It will do you good, in any endeavor; any ruts you were in before the break, you'll tend to break out of. I've also been doing a lot more reading over the past few weeks, since I haven't been so busy writing. Harry Potter has been the order of the day for most of this time, as I'm rereading years four through six in preparation for the fairly imminent release of the closing seventh book. Despite the differences that some take with her style, I must say that J.K. Rowling really is an incredible writer and storyteller. You might not think that there's much I can learn from Harry Potter for a broken-earth zombie novel, but there certainly is . . . .

At any rate, before my life-imposed writing hiatus, I had had a number of breakthroughs on my manuscript. Aside from greatly expanding my second chapter, I've also now greatly expanded my first. The new opening that I have provides a little more depth, and is significantly less teaser-ish. I'm very excited about it. At some point in the next month or so I'll post the new versions of both chapters on my website, but I'm going to wait until after I've let them sit a bit longer, and until I've had a chance to get a bit more outside editorial feedback.

I've also made it about two thirds of the way through chapter 10, so that's some progress there. The planning and writing of the first chapter additions was a major hangup for me for a couple of weeks, so that really stunted my other progress as I wrote three different new openings before I found one that I liked at all (and that one I loved). I've had about enough editing for at least a few weeks, at any rate, so this week I'm going to get back in the saddle and write some new content--finish off chapter 10 for sure, and hopefully get a good ways into chapter 11.

So that's the news from my part of the world; I apologize for not responding to comments as much as I normally would have lately, and for not posting comments on everyone else's blogs. It's just too time consuming at the moment. I am still reading all my regular blogs, however, and I've been enjoying hearing how all of you are getting along (quite well for the most part--bravo!). Until next time . . .

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Colleen said...

Hi Chris: Nice to have you back. I think that we writers need to find our own paces and use what works for us. I hope your "life-imposed hiatus" has given you renewed enthusiasm for your writing and am glad to hear how excited you are about your last round of edits/writing. Cheers!

alternatefish said...

hey, I haven't written for two weeks either and I don't have anything resembling an excuse. I always feel guilty when that happens, like I'm not a Real Writer.

I like your blog--I've popped by a few times but never commented before. so hi!

Christopher M. Park said...


Thanks very much! The break definitely has given me a renewed enthusiasm. Hope things are going as well for you!


Thanks for stopping by! I think that, when writing is not (yet) your full time career, periodic breaks are not only inevitable, they are necessary. All writers need a little bit of time to recharge, and truthfully I don't think that all of anyone's "leisure" time should be spent in any one pursuit, be it hobby or intended career. We all need a little bit of time to recharge, and the exact amount tends to vary by the individual.

I know that when I used to play tennis daily, I tended to get into ruts every so often, and would need to take a break. Every six months or so I'd have a break where I just wouldn't play for a few weeks, and I'd come back a mysteriously better player because my mind had escaped its ruts and put a few new things together.

At any rate, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for commenting!