Thanks to Amy KW for recommended a weekly check-in for what we plan to do writing-wise this week. My head hatches a long list of things to do: check out another chapter of the Burroway book, read this week’s New Yorker story, read a few writing blogs, add to my vocabulary list, submit work, continue work on the novel, revise an existing short story and think up a new one. When I rock the babe early in the morning, I get dizzy thinking about all I’m going to accomplish that day and then, then he dozes off and that looks pretty good to me so I close the blinds and join him. I lose two hours, but gain in terms of outlook — sleep deprivation brings all the negative Nancys on my block to play in my head.

Realistically this week I will begin to read Moby Dick, revise this past week’s story and add 10 pages to the novel. That, to me, would be a good week of writing.

During our meeting on Sunday night we mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Ted talk about creativity. She has an interesting take on the idea of creativity, but the one notion that sticks with me is the “idea” that enters your realm and you’re either open and ready to write it or it moves on to another writer who is ready at that moment. I get these story storms at 5 a.m., the little one rouses, I go to shush him and head back to my pillow and the furniture of a story begins to rearrange itself. Then I drift off, half way, like on an airplane. The sleep from 5 to 7 a.m. is fitful, so wouldn’t it be better if I just reached over, grabbed my pen and jotted a few notes about the story storm? To catch the story by the tail and pull it back to me. Maybe I’ll give this a whirl, too.

Annoying WordPress things: why does WP remove/change the headline every time I edit this post? Why has it inserted a blue background color behind each paragraph?

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About Aimee Vitrak

I was a journalist working for The New York Times online and The Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels before earning an MFA from Rutgers University in 2009, studying with Jayne Anne Phillips, Alice Elliott Dark, Tayari Jones and Rachel Hadas. Currently I volunteer at PEN American Center, teach English Composition at Rutgers-Newark, serve as editor for the Overseas Press Club of America and am part of the Neumann Leathers Writers Group.
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5 Responses to March 25 Writing Week

  1. Mauro Altamura says:

    Thanks to Amy for the idea and Aimee for the rally. I plan to start, for the fourth, maybe fifth time, Moby Dick. I bought the book in 1971 for my senior year AP English class. I bought it used for seventy cents from St. Peter’s College used bookstore, located in Jersey City, not far from where I now live and work. I’ve gotten to page 125-150 each time and then put the book down. I could pull out a trite metaphor and say finishing the book is as elusive to me as the whale was for Ahab. But I won’t. Or, I guess, I just did, and will leave it there. Maybe I just don’t like the book and everyone in the world, it seems, sys its the ultimate American novel. So it must be me, no? I will be going to my 40th high school reunion next month. Maybe I’ll ask my former classmates if they’ve read it, or how much of it. I have a sense I will finish it this time. I am not an optimist by nature, so maybe I am just feeling the same thing I feel avery time I start MD. But it’s the 40th anniversary, so it seems appropriate. And while I’ve taken the book once again from my bookcase and brought it with me today, I wound up reading a short story by Jim Shepherd in One Story instead. But I will, I will, I will try to break the page 150 barrier this time and have 215 pages, half of my edition’s total, done by April 13, when next we meet for NLWG. Or I will die trying.
    As for writing, last month I blocked out a schedule for myself. I was able to figure out 15 hours when I can write during the week. It’s helped me keep appointments out of that time and while I may not get to the full scheduled time each day as I’ve planned, I have been pretty much able to get in 15 hours each week. I’m not writing on weekends, and the schedule feels good so far. I record the time I started and the time I shut down my computer each session. Not that I am writing all that time, by any means. I look around or out the window a lot. I get up to check my phone, etc. I fall asleep sometimes. But I am in my chair for as long as I can keep myself. So for this week I will keep at it. I’m in the first one-third of the second draft of a novel. I am hoping to finish this draft by the end of August.
    If I can do this during the week and maybe send out a few stories, that will be a good week.

    • Aimee Vitrak says:

      Dude! There’s a lot of material here on MD and your reunion for a creative non-fiction piece. Take notes while you read MD. Maybe there’s something in there for you to tease out in combo with your 40th high school reunion. There’s gotta be.

      • Mauro Altamura says:

        Yes! great thoughts. I can be a roving notetaker and relieve the anxiety of seeing all the people that caused me angst when I was 16! Thanks for your idea Aimee.

  2. I’ve been working mostly on a chapter of my new project this week – which feels good. Getting a lot done and being kind to myself about my productivity, which also a relatively new mode for me. I’ve set myself a deadline for April 1st and, even though it’s my own deadline, I’m sticking to it. I even emailed a few people and told them about said deadline and asked them to please email me on April 1st asking for my chapter. This kind of accountability works really well for me.

    On my reading to-do list is Jo Ann Beard’s new book. I love Jo Ann Beard so much that I cannot believe I have not read it yet. A trip to The Strand this weekend will fix that right quick.

    • Dawn R. says:

      Like the rest of you, last week’s pep talk was much needed. I have no major project that I’m working on. I feel completely untethered. I’ve been entertaining any and every crazy idea I’ve been having, and it’s made me feel crazy. Then I came upon this line from Swamplandia!: “Madness, as I understood it from books, meant a person who was open to the high white whine of everything”(197). What a relief to have books inside books tell what you know in your heart. I shouldn’t concern myself with the undoing of truthy axioms, and I’d rather embrace the magic. This week I’ve been writing little bits. I’m swimming the muddy ponds. I’m also going to finish one of these books I’ve been reading. Can’t wait to re-read Moby Dick. It is indeed the best book ever written and I often wonder why it doesn’t have its own assassin following.

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