Work Like Steinbeck… Journaling My Novels

August 6, 2012 at 12:28 am (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

When I first started reading Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath, I was a bit disappointed.  Already having read Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, I was searching for more of Steinbeck’s words and was met with mostly outside commentary.  There is still a great deal of Steinbeck’s journals in Working Days, I was simply being impatient.

Although I find the East of Eden Letters to be more intriguing, a representation of a more beautiful life; Working Days is more inspirational.  Working Days takes you step by step through the trials of being a diligent writer, of actively being purposeful, of learning a routine.  The act of learning dedication to the craft was refreshing and encouraging, Working Days reminded me “See, even Steinbeck had to work for it.”  Where as East of Eden Letters just seemed like a magical dream, the routine having already been discovered and maintained properly.

Although I would never dream to compare my work to Steinbeck’s, I found pleasure and familiarity from his entry:

“This must be a good book.  It simply must.  I haven’t any choice.  It must be far and away the best thing I have ever attempted – slow but sure, piling detail on detail until a picture and experience emerge.  Until the whole throbbing thing emerges.”

Is that not what we writers say to ourselves every day?

This picture features about half my journal collection.

Although I have always kept journals, both personal and story related, more often than not a mixture of the two; reading Working Days has put me in a new mindset.  My first novel is in a place where I feel comfortable with putting an absolute deadline in motion.  Sure, I’ve said this before, but I mean it more now than I have in the past.  I’ve written about 1500 to 3000 words a day my whole life, on various different stories, some for my novel, many for writing warm ups.  AJ and Ivy’s Bookshop Hotel, link found on the right, is one of my many writing warm-ups.  The problem with many of my warm-ups is that I find them easy and cozy and their stories have no direction so sometimes I opt to linger there rather than get real work done.

So now I have a plan.

From now until December 12th, my deadline of choice, I am going to write one journal entry page per one page of work dedicated to completing my debut novel.  Parts One and Two of my novel are currently in the editing process, and Part Three will be complete in time for this deadline.  Copies will then be made and submitted to a selection of friends and family to read over.  This time next year, I plan to be published.  This time next year, I plan to be making a new plan to complete my next novel, many are half written in one of those journals you see on display to the left of the screen.  Smashwords, here I come.  Dutton, look out, I want you.

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