| David Gane

New Rituals

Since passing my defence, my life had been in free fall.

Originally, my plan had been to take a some time off, be a stay at home dad, and write. My family and I also had planned a month long trip to Greece nearly a half year before I finished my Masters. I had hoped that inspiration might come to me on my next writing project while I was away, but nothing interested me. After we returned, I spent my time renovating the house, getting ready for my kid's school year, and thinking I should be writing.

I started a writing activity to write 50,000 words but at around 30,000 (notice the graph to the right), I quit, bored with my own story. I floundered some more, until my wife told me that I should get out of the house to do the work, perhaps at a coffee shop. I didn't want to be that guy (I have other words, but I don't think they are very nice to stick in this blog). Yet, I have learned a long time ago that whenever I am stuck in my writing that my wife usually always has the right advice for me.

So, a few Monday mornings ago, I got up and decided to treat my writing like a real job. I dressed myself, sent the kids off to school, then went down to the closest coffee shop and started work. I didn't have anything to write, so I took one of the many scripts I had lying around and started turning it into a piece of fiction.

I am a numbers guy, so I found it interesting that a 120 page script turned into just over 100 pages, but only 20,000 words. This makes it 200 words per page, which is far below a typical page count. I like this economy of words, but I am still not certain what other's will think of it.

I also like the use of the present tense, but again, I wasn't certain using it. I was referred to Margaret Atwood's writing, so I have recently finished The Handmaid's Tale and plan on reading Cat's Eye, and Margaret Laurence The Diviners. I also happened to recently read Divergence by Veronica Roth for my daughter, which is also written in present tense.

The script itself was written about 4 years ago, when I was doing genre pieces with my writing partner. It is one of the last horror pieces I wrote before going back to school. At the time, I was pleased with it, but time, and perhaps the critical education, has tainted some of my love for it. As well, in the adaptation of it, I made different choices for the narrator's voice, and had to cut swaths of scenes out of the story, and replace them with new scenes. In the work of those new scenes, I felt the language and story took me away, and I feel they are not only tonally different, but better written, as well.

Last week, I finished my second draft of the script, and I know it is not ready to be seen. I needed something else, so I began work on a short story, which follows the same rules that I laid out for my script (maybe more of in another post). The story embraces language a but more, even if I am suspicious that I am only saying it to describe that I didn't keep cutting my sentences short.

What this has lead to is that I have developed a pattern, a ritual that I am working through:

  1. Wake up at 5 in the morning and read for an 1 1/2-2 hours, until either my wife goes to work, or the kids get up.
  2. Get family members fed, clothed, cleaned, and sent to their destinations.
  3. Write for 2 hours (until about 11am).
  4. Return home, readying for lunch.
  5. Send kids back to school.
  6. Walk dog for 45 minutes.
  7. Return home, clean house or do renovations.
  8. When kids get home from school, feed them, and do homework.
  9. Supper.
  10. Kid time: homework, practice, whatever.
  11. Read, exercise, or prep for the next day.
  12. Bed time.

The rituals and patterns help the work get done, even when some days the pattern is broken, and I have to adapt. I know what is required when I can get the pattern back on schedule. It also lets me know the time I have, and how I can adapt it to feed changing needs. Finally, there is something to be said about change, but perhaps that is a blog post of its own.

Tags: process, Writing

Leave a comment