Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"That hour just before the children came home ..."

My dear students, friends and colleagues,

Many of you, especially women at home, may want to know about various techniques used by great writers to find and make time and get down to writing.

I found this small description of technique in the Carol Shields biography.

Her novel, Small Ceremonies, was published in 1976. Carol Shields was thrilled when Small Ceremonies won the Canadian Authors Association Award. When asked: "How did you find the time to write Small Ceremonies?" Carol replied:

"Everyone asks me this, including my own children. What my children forget is that I did not have a job; they are all raising children and having jobs. But I didn't have a job. I didn't write until they went to school, and I didn't write on weekends and I didn't write in the evening. None of this was possible.

"But I used to try to get that hour just before they came home for lunch, 11 to 12. You know, got all those socks picked up, etc. and then I tried to write a couple of pages.

"That was all I ever asked myself to do.

"Then sometimes, in the afternoon, before they came home from school, I would get back to those two pages, and maybe have a chance to do them over again. But I really only had about an hour or an hour and a half a day. This was how I organized my time, that I would give myself one or two pages a day, and if I didn't get to my two pages, I would get into bed at night with one of those thick yellow tablets of lined paper, and I would do two quick pages and then turn off the light.

"I did this for nine months, and at the end of nine months, I had a novel. I could see how it could be done in little units. I thought of it like boxcars. I had nine boxcars, and each chapter had a title starting with September, and then October, November, December, so it was a very easy structure for someone writing a first novel to follow."

[Interview with Terry Gross on Public Radio, 1 May 2002]

If you come across any other technique, please share it with me.

Your support is my strength.

Peace and love,
- Joe.

Pune, India, Wednesday, 5th October 2011.