Home for Henry Blog Book Tour: Slow Writing


By Anne Kaier

AnneKaierphotos 008

Note: We are pleased to be hosting a blog book tour stop for author and Story Circle member Anne Kaier’s delightful memoir, Home With Henry.  For more information on the book, visit http://www.annekaier.com/content/home-henry-memoir .

 

Do you write best under deadline?  Can you sit at your laptop, bring all your wiggly brains to bear on a subject and just spit something out? Come up with five hundred words of deathless prose in a zippy half-hour? I have a very accomplished friend who works as a speechwriter for a fortune 100 company. She routinely writes complicated speeches for the CEO in no time. Sits down on a Friday morning and has a draft of a half-hour speech ready for review by all the corporate muckety mucks by lunchtime.

I cannot do that. I need to ponder, contemplate and rewrite. It takes a good year for me to write a long prose memoir piece. This includes walks and dreamingtime and –my personal favorite—writing down brilliant ideas on scraps of paper as I am driving.  And I live in Philadelphia—a big city with crazy drivers. They don’t scare me. I can easily steer with one hand and scribble with another. But deadlines drive all the good ideas right out of my head. As the great Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge admitted:  “deadlines stun me.”  Now Coleridge wrote, possibly while stoned, several of the best poems written in English, including the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” So I am comforted by this. Great minds can, it seems, think slowly. Anyway, mine does. Great or not, that’s how it works.

AK&cats 001When I wrote my new memoir, Home with Henry, about rescuing a feral cat, I kept a journal, written in longhand, mainly at work, when I should have been doing other things such as writing sales brochures. I took my time about it—and didn’t tell anyone I was keeping the journal. So I could write in it with a feeling of freedom, every day—or whenever I wanted to. I certainly didn’t have a deadline. I was writing for myself, because I was interested in Henry’s progress from hiding under a spare bed to coming downstairs and showing himself to be a sweetie. After about a year, I put the journal aside. I didn’t go back to it until a publisher asked me for a manuscript and I convinced her that my cat tale would make a good book.  Even then I was able to take some time in revising the story.

In our fast-paced life, there’s a premium on being able to multi-task—and do things quickly. Efficiency experts rule. But I need to take my time and dawdle, let my mind wander where it will. I need to sleep on my drafts, mosey out into my garden and stare into space when I’m writing something. I believe in slow writing. Like slow food, good writing, for some people at least, needs to simmer, bubble, and stew.

henrycoverFINALpublicityHow about you? Are you a dawdler? A master multi-tasker? Let us know in the comments below, and please support Anne by checking out her other Home with Henry Blog Book Tour stops. 

 

 

June 29 http://redwhiteandgrew.com/

June 30 https://storycirclenetwork.wordpress.com/

July 1 http://judyalter.com/

July 2 http://www.MochasMysteriesMeows.com

July 3  http://consciouscat.net/

July 4 http://www.bloodredpencil.com

and

www.marianallen.com

July 5 http://joyceboatright.blogspot.com/ 

July 6 http://maryannwrites.com/

July 7 http://womensmemoirs.com/

July 9 http://www.thecatonmyhead.com

 

8 responses to “Home for Henry Blog Book Tour: Slow Writing

  1. yemenijourney

    I find one of my greatest challenges is editing after I’ve written something. I don’t know why, but I seem to have difficulty finding a balance between trying to make it absolutely perfect, or thinking it’s pretty good as it is!

  2. Love your reflections on the virtues of slow-writing, Anne. I covet the time I spend on my journal–not for publication but for meditation. It always takes me deeper, deeper than I can ever reach in the writing I do for readers. Here’s to simmering, bubbling, and stewing!

  3. Anne, I’m a fellow slow writer, and usually a little embarrassed by that, comparing myself to the many super-productive writers I know. It seems I often choose meeting family needs and earning a paycheck over “dawdling” with writing my own projects. And I relate to yemenijourney’s perfectionism, which is another slowdown. So I’m heartened to find that I’m not alone in that pace. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I think my ability to write quickly comes from my start in journalism. There is no time to dawdle. Like your friend who writes speeches, I had to produce stories in short periods of time. How that melds into writing fiction is being able to take advantage of small increments of time to work on the current story. Another trick I learned years ago juggling the writing with raising 5 kids. Not much time to devote to leisurely writing. LOL

    That said, I also recognize that the writing process is not just what we kick out of our keyboards in an hour’s time. There is all that contemplating, and walking, and gardening, and listening to music that feeds the stories we write.

    • That makes a lot of sense! It’s so true, about writing being a process. What we end up with on paper is a lot more than the time spent at the keyboard, or with pen and paper.

  5. I am both a quick writer and a slow one. My novel “House of Shadows” was decades, and I do mean that, in the making. It began with an idea I had when I was eleven years old and went through many, many versions. I can however write a book in a few months, if the ideas are flowing, so it all depends on the subject matter, the amount of research and some other indefinable component.

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