My 300 words a day – Anna Spargo-Ryan

My 300 words a day

My 300 words a day

I finally have the house to myself.

On Monday I will be back in the office. Four long weeks of school holidays behind me, but of course now that the children are with their dad I have the sting of I didn’t take them to enough fun places! guilt, which isn’t fair because we went to the pool so many times I had to buy new pool noodles.

I love having the house to myself. So many possibilities. How many movies can I watch in five hours? How many words can I write? How many books can I read? How long can I sit on the couch and eat a box of Milk Tray and read the five issues of my favourite magazine that are still in their wrapping on my desk? How much takeaway can I order and then wait for, knowing that it is only a matter of time before someone else feeds me and I don’t have to clean up at the end? And better still, no one will complain that they hate it unless I hate it, in which case there’s no one in the house who cares anyway? And then I can go to bed as late as I like because in the morning, I can just wake up at whatever the fuck o’clock?

All I do right now is write fiction or think about writing fiction. It’s quite weird for someone with as loose a hold on reality as me to write fiction. Last week when we were at the pool for the eleventh hour in a row, a man walked past me and I gasped out loud because I thought he was a character from my story. He looked just like him, even though I hadn’t decided what he looked like yet. I knew it was him. I stared at him for a long time, trying to burn his features into my brain: the ears sticking out like dried apricots, the casual beard, the flat hair, the sad eyes. I stared at him until his wife came over and threatened me, but by then I had so much chlorine in my blood I just bleated at her and she left me alone.

So far I have stuck to my goal of writing at least 300 words every day, which was a new year’s resolution of sorts (but not a real one, since I didn’t blog about it). “Every day” means “between waking and sleeping”, so there have been times I’ve written my 300 words at 2 in the morning and they’ve come out like “And so, they walked to the end of the pier and fish jumped out of the water so they grabbed them and ate them raw which was not the best idea they had ever had.” so there will certainly be a lot of editing to be done.

When I was a kid I wrote a lot of fiction. There was one story in particular that I’ve talked about here before, which I wrote with double margins in a black leather book I stole from my dad. In it the heroine travelled through a dangerous and volatile land that opened through the use of a series of keys that she only gained access to by solving incredible puzzles carved as hieroglyphs into limestone. It was quite serious. But it’s been a long while since I’ve written fiction every day, and the more I do it, the more I just want to write only fiction for all time. In addition to the novel I’m writing (which is currently at about 17,000 words), I have written a handful of short stories and written notes for several more (some of the notes are just titles; The Darling Limited Express is my favourite), and mostly I raise my hands to the sky and wonder why I spent so long not spending my time this way.

For a while there I wrote off fiction writing as frivolous and pointless, and channelled my efforts into more respectable things like making sure everyone was clean and buying the right kind of milk. I don’t know why I did that. It was much worse, and I rarely got it right anyway. Therefore, 2013 is the year of doing the things that tickle me and fill the right gaps, and of wasting only as much time doing the other things as is required to find inspiration to stop doing them again.

  • Stella Orbit

    January 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm Reply

    Man. I am at once bummed for you and exhilarated by the thought of what you could write! I love the idea of stolen notebooks, the best kind really.

    Get on with doing what you love xo

  • Yelguiq Mas

    January 19, 2013 at 11:09 pm Reply

    Stop reading comments and write, woman.

  • Caroline

    January 20, 2013 at 12:08 am Reply

    I love what you write. All of it. Just do more!

  • Sara

    January 20, 2013 at 6:24 am Reply

    I love this post – filled to the brim of doing things that you love to do. It makes me happy, the rightness of it all :).

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      January 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm Reply

      Thanks Sara :) It’s nice to find things that make one feel that way.

  • amber

    January 20, 2013 at 6:45 am Reply

    I can remember writing stories and whole ‘books’ when I was a kid with a feverish glow of ‘this is The Best Thing Ever’. Why does adolescence (and then adulthood) have to come along and stomp the excitement and confidence out of you? Or is it healthy to be plagued by self-doubt as long as you keep pushing through?

    I started a short story the other day for the first time in eight years!

    I am thinking about this story a lot — the infinite number of ways it could go, the endless possibilities for scenes, paragraphs, and sentences. The enormity of creative opportunity is so overwhelming at times: one never wants to choose the wrong ‘trajectory’.

    I guess that’s why writers usually write more than one story. They can explore infinity with every new page.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      January 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm Reply

      Yes, WHY! I’m a bit devo that the motivation to do this and the passion has only recently returned, now that I’m an adult and can do what the fuck I like.

      Congrats on writing again. I love the unknown, but it cripples me as well.


  • Rose Wintergreen

    January 28, 2013 at 11:48 pm Reply

    Yes! Brilliant! So glad you feel this way – that you’re doing the thing that makes you buzz with excitement. Don’t bash yourself up about not having done it earlier. x

  • Gill

    January 29, 2013 at 1:12 am Reply

    I spent a chunk of my childhood sitting in a bright orange beanbag, scrawling down words and sticky taping pages together. Then I grew up and began to doubt every word, every idea, every thought. It’s only recently that the old comfort of the long gone orange beanbag has stirred inside of me.

    I loved reading this post, especially your last line, it seems that the very things that distract us from writing are the same things that inspire us…

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      February 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm Reply

      Thanks Gill :) I agree with you. It’s a complicated thing, the will and desire to write.

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