Chapter 5: Journals

I’ll give you 3 guesses and the first two don’t count on what this chapter is about. Yup! It’s about journals.

Heather talks about how she hates suggesting people to “keep a journal” for their writing. Instead she likes to suggest getting “loose journal”. Keeping a journal makes it feel like you have to be careful with it, take care of it and studiously write in it every day.

Heather suggest a much relaxed way to take writers notes by basically suggesting that you use whatever you can find. A napkin you wrote on while at the restaurant and plan to put in a shoebox so you can find it later, a bunch of cheap notebooks that you’ll have in different areas of your house, a folder that holds a bunch of loose papers filled with your notes.

I do this as an artist. I need to have some sort of paper around just in case I need to sketch something. But I don’t have a super fancy sketchbook. More like a folder that holds all my doodles. Currently I have 3 sketch pads in my bag; a small one, a beat up looking larger one that I randomly doodle on, and one with nice paper for when I feel I might draw something that I might want to turn into a print. I also have sticky notes for those times where I need to sketch something out right away at work and look busy (luckily my current boss doesn’t get angry at me for doodling because she knows that’s how I think, listen, and problem solve).

Exercise 11

Buy a large journal, 8.5″x11, and keep it by your bed. You can also use a spiral bound notebook, for which you should pay no more than $.99. When you can’t sleep, or you are cranky and giving yourself a Time Out (it isn’t just for kids!), or when you are stuck in your writing life, or just feel like writing, you can get it out, get it down. Tomorrow when you wake up, don’t get out of bed without writing one sentence. Just one sentence. That’s all.

I hate mornings because they suck balls.

Chapter 4: Tools 101

Becoming a writer is cheap, according to this chapter of Page After Page.
Heather says:

One reason I became a writer instead of a visual artist is because a tube of cerulean blue cost $4.39.

I can see what she’s trying to say, but the first thing I thought was “No, you just need pencil and paper to become an artist”. Some artists even go cheaper than that and create art by drawing in sand. I’ve even used my arm and a simple pen to draw stuff that I’m proud of.

But she’s seeing it as a professional high grade artist. The kind that paint paintings that sell for thousands of dollars (which most of the money goes towards paints). In this case, a successful writer has probably spent less money on supplies to write his award winning novel than a professional artist does.  Though I know plenty of writers that want to write a book that is set in a certain location, so they spend hundreds of dollars getting a hotel in that location for a weekend and write it off as research. I want that kind of research. Beats taking a workshop where you spend 8 hours a day drawing naked people.

Heather is basically saying to just write. Stop making excuses, feel you need to buy fancy software, or get stuck in the “I have to research more on how to become a writer” before trying to even write.

I went through this as an artist. I loved to draw and I dreamed of the day that I could have my artwork up in the art show at the San Diego Comic Con or create a web comic. I kept holding off because I thought my artwork wasn’t good enough. I had to be the best artist I could be before being an artist. I had to buy expensive software, paints, and supplies before I even started to draw professionally. Until one day I realized that I would never reach the “my artwork is good enough” level because I would always find room for improvement.

And what’s wrong with always needing to improve? I actually think it’s worse when you feel you don’t need to improve your work anymore. You get lazy and stop challenging yourself. That’s when the things you create become dull.

Exercise 10

Sit down in your chair. And write. Don’t think. Take your day yesterday, and pick a moment – a moment when other people were around. When you first woke up, or when you go to work, or lunch. It doesn’t matter which moment…
You are going to write exactly what happened – no emotions, no adjectives – just what happened, in short simple sentence, trying to capture, exactly, every gesture, every bit of dialogue, every reaction….
Write like that, for the full fifteen minutes…You want to cover five minutes of real time in fifteen minutes of writing time…

St. Patrick’s Day Lunch
After walking a short distance through the parking lot and past the tent setup with a sign saying “Plastic cups only today”, we make it into the restaurant. I weave around full tables and booths to finally arrive at the bar entrance. There seemed to be no hope for seating till I spot two chair next to the bar.
Waving my husband to follow I ask a man, dressed to the nines in St. Patrick’s Day gear, if anyone was sitting on the stool next to him. He smiled and said, “You are, miss”. I say thank you and start to sit, until my husband points out that we won’t be able to sit next to each other due to the walk up bar order space being between us.
That’s when a kind older man on the left said “I have an empty seat next to me. Let me scoot over so you two can sit next to each other”.
“Thank you!” I said as I hop up on the stool that is always too tall for my short stature.
A bartender with a handlebar mustache and glasses asks us what we want. I was well prepared for his question, ordering a green beer and a bowl of Guinness Stew. Clint ordered a wheat ale as he finished sitting down next to me.
With our drinks in hand, I decided to look around the bar. The people to our right, wearing outfits that pretty much glowed green, had obviously been drinking for a while. At one point one of the drunk men stopped a guy getting a beer at the walk-up counter and said “I heard you talking about heading home at your booth, you have a cab or something right? You’re not driving right?”
The man shook his head and that his wife was picking him up.
Our food arrived, Guinness stew and beef brisket for my husband. I ordered a Black Velvet, while Clint finished his second beer. He then decided it was time to try a wheat beer that he hadn’t tried that had a shark holding a beer as the tap handle.
After I ordered the Black Velvet, I requested a couple of waters, sobered up and then drove us up.