Chapter 3: Lover on the side, Lover in the center

This chapter of Page After Page is about falling in love with what you’re doing. How you find time to spend time with the one you love, how time stops when in love, and talk about how in love you are. She then tells the reader that this is how you need to be with writing. Writing needs to be that new found lover in your life.

I kind of agree with this. As an artist, I will lose track of time because I’m so engrossed with what I’m drawing. Sometimes I even forget to eat. But I also get annoyed by my artwork because something I’m drawing is frustrating me. So I tend to describe my passion for art as being similar to loving a baby – you love the kid to death and want to help it grow, but sometimes it’s going to barf on you and you’re going to have to find a way to clean up the mess.

Heather makes me feel that writing should have that love glow about you like when you’re falling in love with someone new. Like I should scribble hearts around writing and see what it would look like if I took writing’s last name (Dawn the Writer). But I don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of commitment…


Exercise 7

As you read this chapter, it’s likely tha t you said to yourself, “Fine, Heather, but I’m XYZ and I have PDQ going on, and in addition, the special circumstances of ABC.”…
…Write down what you were thinking-to-do lists, jobs, fears, dreams, excuses, busy-drugs you are addicted to, meetings you must attend, children you must feed. Write it all down. Look at your list. What job are you qualifying yourself for? What is at the center of your life? Are you in the mood to fall in love with writing? Are you too exhausted to take on a lover? Are you feeling like you should take on this lover, writing? Or do you really want to? Write out the answers to these questions.

I’m an artist. I love art enough to frustrate me to where I feel like I want to strangle it, but resist because I know art will hold my hair up if I’ve drank too much or make me soup if I don’t feel good. Will writing do that? Or will it just seem me as an experience in life that it will find enriching and want to tell a story about it even though I asked it not to tell people about that one embarrassing time I had at toe fungus summer camp. Though just saying that a Toe Fungus camp exists and I went there would be enough to make me want to crawl into a hole.

There is no summer camp dedicated to kids with toe fungus. I’ve never been to a summer camp. But a quick google search suggests that most summer camps have the possibility of being toe fungus summer camps.

Where was I? Oh yes! Why I can’t I take writing as my lover. Can I not call writing a lover and maybe a geisha? Cause I just want to tell people that writing is my geisha to see how people would react. Great, now I want to try drawing what that would look like. See! Artwork is figuring out that I’m interested in writing and planning a romantic getaway to some fancy place in hopes of saving our relationship.

Art! Why can’t I quit you!?

Exercise 8

Set a writing schedule for the week. For example, 7AM to 7:15AM, and lunch, and Saturday afternoon. Now here is the key part: Nap during those hours. Do nothing. Just sit there, lie about, stare out the window. Be in bed. Or on your back. For one week…If you can’t waste this amount of writing time, how will you write during it?

This is tough. I hate doing nothing. Meditating is a challenge for me to do because I feel like I’m doing nothing and feel guilty for doing nothing.

Exercise 9

Take books to your bed. Get in the habit of reading in bed…

Already do this. It annoys my husband sometimes because he wants total darkness to go to sleep and he goes to bed before me. But thankfully there is Kindle and setting the background to black with white lettering helps limit the amount of light in the room.

Chapter 2: Writing You Don’t Do Alone

So in this chapter of Page After Page, Heather Sellers talks about how she always felt that writing was a thing you did alone in some dark room. It’s just you, a typewriter, and your creative thoughts. Then she learned that you are a writer everywhere. When hanging out with friends, someone might says something and it inspires your writing that you would have never thought up on your own.

She also talks about how writing always felt like it had to be a dirty little secret. I know that I will happily draw in public, but write in public just feels weird. Kind of like I’m writing in a diary and afraid someone is going to peek over my shoulder and read the secrets I’m writing down.

Heather also discusses how you should never talk about what you’re writing in great detail. Not because someone might steal your ideas, but more so you are encouraged to write more. People who talk about a story they want to write tend to never actually write them.
I kind of agree and disagree with Heather on this. Sometimes talking about a story idea can encourage you to write the story, if you’re friends are the type to encourage you to write. But then again, some people create things to get reactions from other people and getting the reaction early might satisfy that need for that type of attention.
I’m one of those types that love to get a reaction from people. If I tell people what I want to draw, there tends to be a high chance that I won’t draw it because I sort of feel like I got the creative idea out there and there’s no need to go through the hours of drawing out the idea.

So this chapter is basically telling me to not always stay in a dark box alone writing, go to social scenes (writing/reading groups, hanging out with friends, etc), shut up and listen, don’t go telling everyone your writing ideas, and some other thoughts sprinkled in.


Exercise:

A: Write on your scratch paper the answers to these questions: Do you want your “input” to look any different? Does your communal writing self need to be balanced, enriched? What would you need to do? What does your dream writing community look like? Who helps you with what, and what do you help others with, by way of writing life?

I feel like if I knew the answers to all of this, then I wouldn’t be reading this book. But one of my writing goals is to try to write terrible stories. So does that mean that I should do the opposite of these exercises?
But if I was being serious and wanting to be a good writer, I really don’t know what I would want to change. I feel like I’m already in my dream writing community – husband is a writer, plus several other writer friends I hang out with, and the group I hang out with discuss books pretty regularly.

B: To enrich your public writing self, join a book group, or find an online book group or at least some lists of books other writers love… You need to be connected with other people who are involved with books – living your writing life away from books isn’t an option. Spend one hour connecting with other readers… Practice doing the kinds of things writers do when they’re not writing.

I’m going to say that this website counts, but I’m also a part of some groups on Goodreads and discuss books we’ve read or share books we like.
But practice doing the kind of things writers do when they’re not writing? So I should be drinking whiskey or a few beers while tweeting about a movie or TV show I’m watching?

C: Design a reading program. Create a list of books you want to read- books about writing, books like the ones you want to write someday, books that other writers seem to be reading and loving – there are lots of lists of books. Create your own schedule.

My house is filled with books. Some I’ve read and a few I’m starting to read. I actually read a few pages of a book a day, it’s something that I’ve always done. Though no matter how many books I read, I’m still a slow reader.
I think I already got this one down.

Chapter 1: The First Day

The first day of anything is strange and wonderful and exciting. You want to write. You sit down with a new book (like this one!) on the writing life. You think, This will be good.

But starting something new is often difficult and annoying. It’s never exactly what you expected.

And so begins my quest to read Page After Page (PAP from now on due to giggling purposes). The first part of this book is basically trying to help you create “a new writing self”.

In chapter 1, Heather Sellers talks about how a group of students made up of retired women ended up with most of the group not feeling the class would work for them. They had lives, they didn’t approve of her approach teaching the class, etc. Heather explains how this reaction is something she has come to expect. She even admits that she has done the same towards certain classes she was planning to take (yoga) and dropped because she didn’t like the teacher or felt that it was taking up too much time.

On the first day you take on anything new, here is what you can expect-plan for it:

  1. You will not like the tone/hair color/smell/shape/quality of the instruction. You will feel you are wasting your money and your time. This is your desperate attempt to get out of change, which is very threatening to the Self…
  2. You will doubt you are as good as the other people in the class/reading the book/sticking their butts up into the air. You will simultaneously feel you are significantly better than the other people. This is your ego. Shine light on it, which will quiet it down, and say: Comparing myself to others doesn’t help me learn anything…
  3. You will have great intentions, and truly, when you buy this new writing book (exer-ball, ab-ercizer, diet journal, free weights, self-improvement tapes) you do imagine a whole new way of life, with you diligently working a new program. Intentions are good, but let’s not focus on them, because their evil twin is resistance. You will probably have a push-me/pull-you relationship with your early writing practice. Successful writers anticipate this. They cultivate the ability to be aware of the mind without being sucked into their mind.

Lets see where I fit into this:

  1. I’m fully confident that I’m not number 1 towards this book, so that’s good.
  2. I don’t doubt, but know that I’m not as good as others. that’s the whole point of this blog! I am somewhat proud of being terrible I guess.
  3. I could possibly be number 3. I do have a terrible habit of starting and then stopping because of lack of time. But I tend to go into them knowing that there’s a very good chance of me not being able to finish the class/project/etc.

There needs to be a 4th option. You’re curious what all this about and hope to learn if writing is for you. Or maybe you find experiences like this fun, but have no intent on going pro. That’s more me for this.

Exercise 1

First part of this exercise is to get a pencil and paper/notebook. So I went to the 99 Cent Only Store and got myself a notebook. Then I needed to make two lists and create items that I feel fits in those lists for me.

The qualities of your ideal writing guidebook
(What is covered? What do you learn? Etc)
You, as a writing student
(What are your best student-like qualities, what are you wearing, etc)
Has helpful exercises I’m a nerd
Motivates me to write I’m a visual learner
Good examples to help inspire me Don’t expect to be the best, so is willing to experiment since I’m not worried about success.
Gives examples of successful work Like to try to learn new things
Gives examples of terrible work Hate to live a life of "What if"s
Allows room for you to follow your own voice and not write in only a certain way I hate the sound of my voice, so writing seems like something I should look into doing.
Good for a hobby writer not looking to make it big I’m wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. I know your there, book…I can hear you breath.
Resources to help me in writing I’m not a serious student. Life’s too short to be serious.
A book that will give me room to be silly  

I’m guessing that this first exercise is to get readers to start writing. It kind of feels like I’m in a classroom, which leaves me feeling awkward because I don’t have anyone to turn my homework in to.

Learning how to write and be a writer

It has been about a year since I posted last and I am still a terrible writer. Maybe a little closer to passable, but not much further than that.

This year I have drastically cut back on the number of conventions to attend that I have decided to spend a little more time focusing on getting some projects that I’ve wanted to get done. It also gives me some extra free time in my schedule. And so far the free time has once again kindled my interest to experiment on writing.

This won’t stop me from being an artist, that’s my passion and it won’t go away no matter how hard I try. But it never hurts to learn a little bit in a certain field to maybe help strengthen your current talents. Kind of like learning martial arts. They teach you how to fight, but they also teach you how to meditate/relax. The two things are different, but helps create balance and soon you learn how to stay calm when in a fight.

As a comic book artist, writing feels like the opposite to drawing for me. Writing might help me be a stronger artist, help me to understand what a comic book writer wants me to draw, or help me think creatively in a different way. But most of all, I hope this to be an entertaining experience filled with “Oh dear god, why did I write that?” or “Why did I think that was a good idea?”.

Page After PageHow I aim to accomplish this feat is thought guidebooks. Specifically one guidebook that I found: Page After Page: Discover the Confidence and Passion You Need to Start Writing and Keep Writing (No Matter What!) by Heather Sellers. A book with a title to drive the graphic designer in charge of putting together the cover insane.

I picked this book because it not only is a book to help encourage you to write, but also has little exercises after each chapter. My plan is to read a chapter, write a blog that will first discuss what the chapter was about and maybe show my attempts at doing the exercises.

Lets see if Heather Sellers can turn me into a writer or help  my understanding of what writers have to go through. Maybe I should buy a bottle of scotch before I start this…

Feel free to read and comment on my terrible attempts at writing. If your interested in joining me on this wacky journey, then feel free to join along. Maybe leave your thoughts or samples in the comments or give me a link to your blog with your attempts at writing using the “Page After Page” suggestions/exercises.