Saturday, December 04, 2004

Writing for other people

I'm in a writing group and tomorrow night is our monthly meeting. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this group. On the one hand, it got me to start writing a novel based on my dissertation topic, a novel that is now about 100 pages long. On the other hand, I now feel obligated to write. Sometimes I just don't want to. But I can't show up with nothing when it's my turn to hand something in. I'm not sure I even like the novel. I'm not really a novelist--a writer, maybe--but not a novelist. The thing is it's a historical novel which means lots of research. I was realizing in the shower this morning that I really need to read another biography. It's a lot of back and forth between writing and research. And the research is hard to find. So I get easily frustrated. After all, I'm usually writing after the kids go to bed. I have a few books out of the university library, but I'm not sure they're that helpful and I'm planning to take them back. Most of my research ends up being poking around the internet. Mr. GM keeps saying I just need to finish it even if I don't like it that much or it ends up not being good. My friends in the writing group say it's pretty good, but I just can't see it yet. There are parts that are good--other parts not so good. I'm just not that compelled by it. Just before Thanksgiving, I gave myself permission not to work on it until after the holidays. And I think that's just fine. Not a good way to get a novel finished, but a good way to survive. Sometimes I feel like a fraud in this group because sometimes I just don't care about the writing that much. A couple of them seem so motivated, writing every spare moment. I'm just not like that. If I have a spare moment, I want to catch another episode of the daily show or take a bath. Or read blogs. :) I think I like looking at it as a hobby, something I'm pretty good at, but not good enough to be professional and I do it when I feel like it. If it's not enjoyable, why do it at all?

Sometimes I think I should quit the group and just write when I feel like it--even it that's never. Would the world be a better place with or without another crappy historical novel? And sometimes I get overwhelmed because in reality, being in the group creates more work for me. I have to read stuff and write stuff. Do I need that? I guarantee you that after I attend tomorrow, I'll feel all warm and fuzzy about them again because they are a really supportive group of people. What I probably need is more support, not less. If I could give and receive feedback more often, I might have a better chance. There are lots of times when I just want to bounce ideas off people and the people that come to mind are the people I'd be most embarrassed to know that I'm writing a novel. I'm also afraid to put anything substantial out there on the internet. The idea is a good one even if I don't execute it that well and I'm not sure I want someone to run off with it.

And . . . I have an idea for another book that I'm feeling more compelled to write than the current one and it requires no research because it's not historical. This has been a big problem for me historically. I get knee-deep in a good project, then just can't finish it because I get distracted by something new. I think I might just have to force myself to finish the first project before starting (wholeheartedly anyway) on the next. The funniest thing about all of this is that I don't *have* to do any of it. I don't need it for tenure or have an editor clamoring for something. Yet, I'm still managing to stress about it. And really, I'm a pretty laid-back person. Odd.