Thursday, October 14, 2010
Over twenty years ago, when I lived in Boston, committed to living the writer's life, though stuck in a 9-5 job at a braille press (yes, I learned to read braille, but with my eyes rather than my fingers), I learned the most valuable lesson of my working life: that time is a non-renewable commodity. That I might be able to make up money, but I would never be able to make up time. Thus began my very conscious effort to use whatever time I had to write in the most productive way possible. I think this has been the secret to my productivity, that I no longer take time for granted, that I know each passing day is a day I will never get back, each hour an hour I could have moved forward on my writing. For three years, between 2007-2010, I wasn't able to move forward in my writing very much because I was serving as Chair of the Cesar Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies at UCLA. Not that I wasn't productive, and I took advantage of the time I did have to write three new research articles and edit two new anthologies, and I did actually manage to eke out a brand new short story for an anthology on YA mystery fiction. But there were all these ideas for a new novel swirling around in the back of my brain, haunting and taunting me on a daily basis, that I did not have time to sit down and flesh out in my journal. Usually, they would needle under my eyelids while I was undergoing an acupuncture treatment, although occasionally, they also danced on my dashboard while I sat in L.A. traffic on the 405. It was these brilliant (I thought) but amorphous ideas that I attempted to channel into a NaNoWriMo novel in 2008 and again in 2009. But I never got very far, not even halfway through the 50K challenge, and still, I was content to have been able to write anything at all. This year, I have a sabbatical and that means I finally have time to sit down and really listen to and voyeurize those story-ideas that have been haunting me for three years. Of course, October is a great month to be haunted, and November, with its cooler weather, its occasional gray skies, its gothic possibilities, lends itself well to daily summoning at the computer. And so, I have resolved that this year, 2010, I will finish the 50K challenge, and out of it will emerge a very raw, very rough draft of a YA novel that is at this very moment sitting in lotus at the top of my head.