Friday, October 4, 2013

Movie Montage

The other day I was thinking about my life as if it were a biopic that someone had created. I posted something on Twitter to the effect of, if my life were a biopic, the time I am currently living through would be represented by a musical montage. You know -- that mid-movie creative shortcut when the story speeds through the dull bits of life with at least some entertainment value.

Two examples:


 The thing that these two montage clips have in common are their emphasis on training. So in my life right now, it's as if the clip started with my inwardly declaring, "I'm finally going to do it! I'm going to write a novel and get it published." And then the music began.

But it's not as though I think of this as a bad thing. I don't mean to say that my life right now is dull -- that's not exactly the point. It's just that the nature of my work makes it unpresentable. The repetitiveness of my days means that this era of my life is not marked by any stellar event. The whole of my time in Winnipeg has been unchanged. There are social outings indeed, but nothing life-changing. It is all very routine. And I am okay with that. I can see the life changing events on the horizon, and right now is marked by working towards those events tiny step by tiny step.

It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that a routine like mine is okay. Because my early life was marked by almost a complete lack of appropriate mentors, (i.e. fiction authors) I didn't realize what the work of writing novels actually entailed. And now that I know, I am content with it. So, anyone who is contemplating writing a novel and how great that will be, let me disabuse you of romantic notions:

1. Writing a novel is much like writing a Master's or Ph.D. thesis. I did complete a Master's thesis, and that experience taught be a lot about thorough research, patience and avoiding shortcuts. And mostly about self-motivation. Which, if you're going to write a novel, you'll need in spades.

2. Writing a novel requires a lot of sitting. When I was younger, I was prone to romanticizing the writing life. I thought I'd live in a trendy walk-up or loft. I thought I'd bike around, mostly to intelligentsia parties and coffee shops. Actually I'd call them caf├ęs. But the reality of a writer's life is that it requires more sitting than otherwise. Sitting alone in a room, imagining, drafting, or mostly editing and revising. So much editing.

3. Writing requires balance. I used to fall prey to this thought that I have to put every moment into writing. That I had to sit at my computer for 16 hours a day or else I would fail. But I am finding more and more that better writing comes when I take breaks. When I go out with friends to yoga class. When I take a coffee break. When I do the dishes. Because it is during those times that my brain laboratory goes to work on sticky writing problems. Of course, none of this makes for entertaining footage.

4. Writing requires that you get up every day with the desire to write. It may not look like an exciting life from the outside, and it's certainly not what I expected. But being able to fall into a routine of creativity is very rewarding. And for the first time in my life a routine feels good and comfortable.