Day 11 of #1000wordsofsummer 2018
Today you will write 1000 words.
You will let all the words sing to you. They’re a chorus by now. Enough throat clearing, enough adjusting of the robes, practicing of the scales. They’re gathered together, faced forward, ready to be heard.
Even though I allow myself to muddle around quite a bit while I write my first drafts, there's an intentionality to my work. To be more specific, there's a list of qualities a project must have before I fully engage with it.
My book always has to have a strong, complicated female protagonist. It also has to have a structure unique to anything I've done in my previous works; I always want every novel to feel new and inventive, even if there are common themes that linger from book to book. And finally, there has to be an element of compassion to the work, which is to say I need to be able to approach it from a compassionate place, explore the theme through the actions of the characters, and invite the reader to contemplate the idea of compassion themselves.
In a sense these are my writer’s ethics. I know that if I am abiding by them, I can feel free to move on with a project. Together, they are my compass.
What is your writing compass?
Today's guest is Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of the wildly funny and popular novel, THE NEST, which was a New York Times bestseller and is being published in 25 countries. I can tell you that this is someone who puts in the work. She has been committed to being a writer for a long time.
"Writing is a solitary business and those of us who spend our days trying to conjure an imaginary world have to do whatever we can to engage in the real one. If hopping onto social media alleviates your loneliness and brings you pleasure, I’m not going to clothe it in shame. However. I would urge you to pay attention to how your trusty diversions make you feel and whether they nourish or deplete your creative soul. When my writing day begins, I fire up an app called Self Control (purchased because I have none) to block social media and a handful of other sites for six or seven hours. That I am easily distracted is one reason, but the more relevant reason is that I’m a better writer when I shut out a certain type of noise for at least a few hours. When I’m writing, I think of my heart and my brain as being tethered by a vital, slender thread that I have to protect. I’m very picky about the voices I let into my head. I’m not advocating getting off of Facebook as much as I am gently suggesting that you identify the ways you might be avoiding—as the late great David Rakoff put it—the deeply unglamorous task of tolerating yourself long enough to push something out."
I’m proud of you,