24 March 2010

Nulla Dies Sine Linea - Progress Log Entry no. 1

Ok so this is my first entry of my “Progress Log.” Supposed to rapidwrite my progress in writing. So I’ve started reading the “Writing on Both Sides of the Brain” to overcome my writing block and to write more effectively. Mainly – to write. What I’ve learned so far is that I need to learn how to separate the two functions of the right and left side of the brain. First – let the music, rhythm and voice out through the right side of the brain. This usually happens as we use rapidwriting and don’t let the critic come between the finger and the keyboard. After that – and when the time is ripe – let the critic in to do all the editing, rewriting and crossing out. Sounds logical, especially as I am writing at the moment in this very way. Not paying any heed to the critic. Not thinking too much. And it’s going pretty well because the fact is that I wrote what I wrote until now in less than 4 minutes. Usually it would take me at least half an hour to write a paragraph this long. But this is different, because here and now I’m not really concerned with any metaphors or fresh language. Only letting my thoughts roam.

As far as my novel? And its progress? Well, I haven’t written for a while. I don’t really know where the novel is going. Don’t have a story line yet. I mean I’ve got the dilemmas and I know more or less the political orientation of Maisoon and Ziyad – but how in the hell am I going to make it be felt in the novel? I can’t just write “she thinks this and he thinks that.” It has to be played out in real-life scenes. In their actions. In their dreams. In their inner monologues and their dialogues with each other.

One way to go about it is just write the scenes I’ve already got, separately, and then try to do some sort of pasting or putting them together. But this doesn’t seem right to me, as I need to know the chronological order because I want the two characters to grow somehow in their realizations or understandings. At first, they are complete opposites in their political understandings, but I want them to come closer. The same goes for Maisoon’s father – first an alienation of her from him, she doesn’t understand anything about him, doesn’t know he’d been a political activist in his youth. Then she starts putting the pieces together – learning somehow about his activism, his theater, his poetry, his dream of being an actor and a poet (both? Why not, we’ll see). Ok, so there’s an idea. This can be the story line – Maisoon’s search for understanding what happened to that “subjugated” generation of her father and their dreams.

And then, parallel to this, I can have her political development – from being mere “errand runner” when she drives the kids to hospitals and goes to olive harvests to becoming something else. Another kind of political activist.

And then parallel to her development we have Ziyad – who’s the farthest of all in all of this, and his search for his own identity: who is he?

And lastly, we have Layla, Maisoon’s mother – and her dreams. I need a dream for her. A dream of education. She can be the “three times oppressed woman.”

Great. This progress log has already helped me clear some of the clutter. I even feel like continuing to write but I don’t know what to write. Tomorrow I will be reading chapter four of “Writing on Both Sides of the Brain” and will be doing the exercises in the chapter. Looking forward to it actually, as when I did the rapid writing, it really felt good though my arm began to hurt (I did that exercise and the first one also in my notebook no. 4).

I will let the new thoughts about the characters and this story line of their political development / understanding / awakening sink in for a few days and think of way how to write it. Maybe parallel chapters – going back and forth with Maisoon. Alternating the chapters between her and her parents, her and Ziyad, and just her. Maisoon being the threading link between all the characters. And I almost forgot – I need that one character from a refugee camp. Now this will be difficult. Do I want him fanatic? Do I want a tragic end for him? Does Maisoon fall for him? Will that be too much? Not if it’s a 600 page book. And also – do I want just one character? That wouldn’t be doing justice. Maybe I need a contra character to him. Someone who’s lost a loved one but turned to non-violent resistance? Wow, this is complex – but at the same time I’m getting excited. Very much! At the prospect of this creation. Yes, I feel mature as a writer. I feel confident that I can do it.

I’ve written almost two pages in less than half an hour. This proves how fertile my brain is when I decide to put the thoughts into actual words black on white. I feel exhilaration just at writing this. So how does it feel to actually be writing the novel? Complete ecstasy! Energy. I forget my own tiredness and how tired my body feels. I even forget – if only for a little while – the pressures of my work and all the tasks I have. It’s pure pleasure. Tomorrow I will find the time to read that chapter four and to do the exercises. Maybe even do a bit of writing “Life in Fragments.”


  1. Dear Khulud, I think freewriting is a great exercise to loosen up our minds. It's an exercise I do frequently with my students to get their creative juices flowing. You know, when we freewrite, we release all of the thoughts that are the fore of our head, and that allows for the deeper thoughts to come out.

    I also recently read a book about writing by Stephen King, and he has excellent advice about writing novels. He says that the simplest way to start is to take a scene (of which you have many) and ask the question "What if?" about a detail in that scene. "What if this were to happen?" "What if Maisoon were to suddenly discover something about Ziyad she never new?" Just an example, of course. But it's the what if's that get the mind thinking "conflict" for your novel.

    It sounds like you're doing good, as long as you keep writing. I always tell myself it doesn't matter what I'm writing, as long as I'm doing it regularly. Oh, another advice from Stephen King about novels: He says don't leave your novel without work for more than a day as long as it's in the rough draft process. ;-) Just nudging you!

    I wish you luck with it all. One day the moment of how it all should come together will just fall on you like rain, and you will know that this is it! Good luck, Khulud!

    Big hugs,

  2. ouch, that nnudget hurt... but yes, you're absolutely right! Not a day without writing. and yes, I'm still playing around with all sorts of ideas, trusting that it will at one point all fall like rain on me... meanwhile I'm having a blast at it, enjoying every moment

  3. just go on. have fun.


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