In the trenches between pain and progress.

Image by Natania Barron, CC BY SA 2.0

So. This is me trying out the new dictation for Mountain Lion. Why am I dictating? That’s a good question. You see, I had a lot of fun in prose. Too much fun.

It’s definitely a mixed bag. I’m really excited to be writing again, but it’s been difficult. Just when I started getting in the groove my hands gave out. Thankfully there is such a thing as dictation software. But it’s far from perfect. It isn’t so bad that writing has come to a complete stop, but it’s enough that when it comes to things like blog posts, I figure it’s probably worth it to save the fingers (and wrists, shoulders, neck, etc.). Not to mention dictation is notoriously bad with fiction, especially anything remotely speculative.

Anyway, on the writing front things are going pretty great. I can’t really complain that there’s any kind of  imaginative drought like I experienced after I finished the last novel in 2010. Yes, for those of you following along at home, that’s two years ago. I have a list of excuses a mile long, including full-time work, children, pregnancy. But the fact of the matter is: it was too hard. It’s not that I wasn’t writing at all, because I have been. It’s just that fiction wasn’t happening.

Work was a big reason. I eluded to it on the last post, but the big life decision that I made last week was regarding a possible job. I had a really great opportunity to take a professional, high-paying position, but it was something that I knew would take up a large amount of my time. My last job really left no room for writing and minimal time with my family. And right now, my kids (particularly the boy) need me. The stress of the last job, along with being the single breadwinner for much of the last two years, really put a dent in my imagination. At a point, it’s just about money. And that isn’t a good enough reason to change your life. Again.

So, in a way, it’s really good to be back. I have about 60,000 words written in last few months alone, almost 8,000 in the last few days. Most has been written in what I call “the fringes”. Trust me, it’s not like time comes in battalions these days. I just write whenever the hell I can find time, which is usually snippets in the morning and late night. I have two kids. I keep house. I wash lots of diapers. Some days I don’t even get to shower, let alone to “schedule” me time. At very least I’ve committed to 200 words a day for the low threshold and, ideally, 1,000. And it’s been working really well, and goes to show that the drought earlier had nothing to do with time and, in theory anyway, brain space. Or lack thereof.

Anyway, this progress rocks. But after writing about 5,000 of them the other day, I realized something. The pain makes me afraid. It’s hard to exactly explain. The thing is, what I love doing most in the world causes me pain. Physically. No matter how you look at it, that’s depressing. In spite of my best efforts, including surgery and massage and vitamins and ergonomics, the pain is just something I have to live with. And that’s really challenging. I don’t want to admit defeat. I want to be strong, I want to be able to write until I fall asleep with my head on the keyboard. I’ve already had to give up playing guitar, and that’s felt like a huge sacrifice. Anything more seems kind of hard to swallow.

But people have it far worse than I. And I need to stop complaining and feeling sorry for myself.

Finishing Indigo & Ink was really a big deal for me, even if it ushered in a period of the doldrums. I was plagued with some of the worst pain in my life during that time. But I kept writing. Even when it prevented me from sleeping. It’s no surprise that one of the main characters is tortured! I really felt like that. But sometimes when you get in that fever pitch during the writing process, stopping feels impossible. And I fizzled for a while. I can’t let that happen again. Slow and steady… that’s my mantra.

So I guess this post is kind of meandering. I’m still wrapping my head around dictation again. But the gist of it all is that I am elated that the writing is happening, but frustrated that it’s not as fast as I like it. I will say this: never take for granted your time or your health.

And one more thing. Writing advice is well and good, but the truth is that you’ll find what works for you. When I first started writing my blog was chock-full of how-to pieces. Maybe I helped some people, I don’t know. But really I was just talking out loud. When it comes down to it, no one can tell you how to write. Everyone’s life is different. Everyone’s imagination is different. Thankfully.

The truth is there’s only one rule: write. And then write more. Lather, rinse, repeat. Even if it’s 10 words a day. Even if it just describes the view outside your window. If you want to be a writer, if you want to get published, you just have to write.

  • karengadient

    This post prompted me to finally install Mountain Lion (I hadn’t dared before, mostly due to my old MacSpeech software). Only it’s not working out so well, alas. Misunderstands me half of the time. I think it’s going to be worse for my wrists to have to go back and edit the messy dictation than actually type the usual way. Truly, you’re so right: it’s awful when doing something you love causes pain. Much love.

  • http://nataniabarron.wordpress.com Natania

    I never do dictation for fiction, though the new Dragon Dictate promises more accuracy! Meh. I don’t know. I already shelled out $250 for it and now they want another $100… And finding silence around here is damned near impossible. :{

    • karengadient

      I’ve decided that instead of Dragon, I’m putting the funds towards an articulating keyboard and/or new desk. Or tickets to NC. Or both. Yeah that.