That's the quota I've been setting for myself over the holidays. It doesn't sound like much, but it seems to work for me. But just so it doesn't seem to you like I've got it too easy, I should explain that I start my writing day by reviewing and tweaking whatever I wrote the day before.
This morning, I was writing in my diary about how much I am enjoying this timeoff from teaching. I think it's because I've been able to focus on writing and reading. (And oh, I forgot to tell you that Frances -- our cat-house guest -- is very nice to have around when you are reading on the couch since she comes to sit next to you and purrs like a furry engine.) Back to what I was thinking/writing about in my diary (thinking and writing sometimes seem like the thing to me)... I was thinking/writing about how I like working simultaneously as a journalist and novelist. It's funny how those two types of writing can sometimes feel very different, but yet they somehow feed off of each other. When I write a newspaper story, I have to be as accurate as possible. I rely on notes I've taken and sometimes when I'm working on a newspaper assignment, I have to phone people I've interviewed to ask a few more questions -- or check some fact or other. But the focus is on getting to the TRUTH. On the other hand, writing a novel is basically TELLING A LIE. You get to make things up and have things go whichever way you'd like them to. But -- and this is where the distinction between journalism and fiction blurs a little for me -- when you make up a story, you are essentially trying to TELL THE TRUTH about life or people. Also, in a lot of the fiction I write, I need to do a lot of research in order to make my story seem real.
Speaking of research, today I went to visit my friends Maite and John and their new baby Noam, who is very very handsome. Maite is on leave from her job as educational programs coordinator at Blue Metropolis, the literary foundation that arranged for me to visit Nunavik last winter. In fact, Maite was there, too. There was one weekend, though, that I stayed "home," while Maite went winter camping with a group of friends from Nunavik. (I stayed home because I wanted to help look after a dog who was hit by a pickup truck when she was out on a run with me. The dog, you'll be glad to know, survived the accident and is doing well.) Anyway, not only did I get to meet Noam, but I got to ask Maite some more questions about winter camping! She told me how some other campers trapped a fox, and how one of the kids used the dead fox for a puppet. I know that sounds gross, but GROSS MAKES GOOD STORIES!! So, guess what I'll be writing about when I'm back at the computer next week?!
Since my husband Mike will be off for the next four days, I am planning to take a little holiday, too. Which means I may not post again until 2008. So if you don't hear from me before then, I wish you a very happy and healthy and safe and fun and creative new year. Did I leave anything out?
Happy New Year!! (Maybe you're missing something about enough obstacles to make one a stronger and better person, yet not so much as to crush them? If everything's nice, it doesn't allow one to grow... not to mention the fact it doesn't make good stories!! )
I like the idea of telling the truth about a fictional character's life... it is blurry, but it makes sense on some level. And about the 500 words - it doesn't sound like much when you just say "okay, I'm going to write 500 words today", but I think it becomes more difficult when it's 500 (good) words every day over a number of days!!