… the real value is in the dedication, commitment and hard work.  (a Haida pole carver and elder)

I’m not afraid of hard work, but I’ve been a little soft on dedication and commitment lately.  Last night I could hardly sleep.  For the first time since my desktop ground to a halt, I was ready for two full days of serious writing time!

Day I

Up at 5:30, I make coffee and do my morning readings: one chapter of Anomaly, a début novel by Canadian author Anne Fleming, two poems from Love Takes a Bow by Dan Gilmore (Group Shower and Last To Go) and a few journal entries from,  if i knew, don’t you think i’d tell you?  by Jann Arden where I scribble bits and pieces in the margins – a decadent break with my rule NEVER, NEVER write in books!  The combination of coffee, reading and margin notes pulls me through the never-enough-sleep fuzzies and kick starts the creative side of my brain.  Inspired by Arden’s journal this morning, I write the first, raw draft of a poem, “I speak dog”, a snivelling bit about being home alone too much with only the dog for conversation.

Put a load of towels in the washer and prepare breakfast.  Fold the towels already in the dryer and put the new load in.  Clean the kitchen.  Write out the grocery list. Trim and re-arrange the tulips.  Fill the water jug with my daily 8 glasses.  Make another coffee.

Back in the office I sit in front of the computer for more minutes that I care to acknowledge,  fingers poised over the keyboard.  Knot in my gut. NOTHING!  Not one single line of anything comes into my head.  PANIC!

Perhaps a writing goal?

BREATH.   On the chalk board beside my desk I write:  Work on the novel in preparation for the Ontario Writers’ Conference this weekend.  Not only a goal, but a deadline too!   I begin by transcribing the last 12 of 48 files on my digital recorder.  Smaller than the smallest cell phone, the recorder rides in the outside pocket of my purse everywhere I go.   I get into a rhythm, fingers flying despite listening to my whiney voice.  PROGRESS.

I check emails, photo journal, tweets, LinkedIn, blog comments and Face Book (NO, you cannot play scrabble), fold the last load of towels, make another coffee (decaf) and freeze – the clock on the microwave says 12:30!  Already!?   OK, lunch! Writing makes me ravenous.

And a writing plan?

Organize my writing space … there’s too much stuff! I file the transcribed notes, by character, into hanging folders and sift through a gigantic stack of newspaper clippings.  Some end up in the blue box, the rest sorted by research topic.  Interview notes and supporting documents get sorted and filed too. I need another hanging folder bin.  Off to the basement where I clear out one filled with organizational development research from my consulting days.  Don’t throw anything out or Ruth (writing pal and mentor) will shoot you.  When I finish, I can see the top of my (second) desk!  I have three hanging folder bins, a three-inch binder filled with earlier chapter versions and another two-inch black binder containing the most recent versions, which pre-date the 48 digital files.

I read through the black binder sorting in my head where the decisions made in the 48 transcripts will fit in the story line.  I stand in front of the office wall for a long time, where the book is laid out with blue masking tape and post it notes. I add a few notes and move some things around.  By the time I finish re-writing the Project Outline, its 5:30 pm. I’m exhausted, and there is a ton of re-writing to do to move forward with the story line.

Permission to write badly!

Tomorrow’s writing plan is all laid out, and it ain’t gonna be pretty!  Hard work? Yes.  Dedication? Faltering.  Commitment?  I should be committed!  Yet another crisis of confidence hovers – can I really do this?  I give myself permission to write badly for this first draft.