Friday, July 28, 2006

Writing Without a Net

It takes courage to be a writer, and not just in the "how will I pay the bills?" kind of way. I mean if you want your words to have any kind of substance, you have to be actively bold enough to delve into places a lot of people would rather leave unexamined.

I've recently gone back to working on a book about my wedding -- it's a humorous take on the whole thing called Let Them Eat Cake: Tales of a Queer Girl in the "Straight/Lace" World of Weddings. Now, at risk of ruining the plot for you, the wedding took months of planning, the day itself was amazing, and we're still happily together. However, there was also serious family drama: that weekend would be the last time my mom ever talked to me before she died. No surprise, then, that I stalled on the chapter where she threatened to leave five minutes before the ceremony.

As a writer, I have three options: (1) skirt this central fact about what took place, (2) abandon the project all together, or (3) write my way through the pain. This is nonfiction, so Door #1 wouldn't feel right. By letting the book languish, though, I've effectively been going with Door #2.

So instead, I'm turning the knob on Door #3. No matter how difficult the truth is to get down on the page, it's the only way to get to the other side.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Using Up Words

I love my job: I'm the writer at Horizons Foundation, the world's first LGBT community foundation. It's a fantastic organization making a real difference in the lives of LGBT people, I get to work on lots of different kinds of writing projects, and my coworkers are not only smart and hard-working, but also completely hilarious and fundamentally kind. I have thanked my lucky stars for the opportunity to work there ever since I started in 2004.

So it almost feels like poor taste to say there's a drawback: at the end of the day, I feel like all my words got used up. After eight hours of intense concentration at my job, there's nothing left for my own writing projects.

Now, I know this sounds completely trivial to non-writers, and compared to many work issues that people are dealing with -- unlivable wages, harrassment, unsafe conditions, and so on -- it is minor. Trust me, I'm well aware of how good I have it.

At the same time, for someone like me who is nourished by her creativity with words, the potential long-term consequences can't be dismissed. I need to acknowledge that the situation is serious for me, and find ways to get those words flowing again.

My current plan: on the mornings when I haven't been getting up early to go to the gym, get up early anyway and write. Once it becomes habit, it'll be easier to expand from there.

Welcome to the fruits of Day 1.