Thursday, November 5, 2009

From the Diary of Christa A. Banister

Even though there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy about my life, I started keeping a diary when I was only nine years old...

It wasn't all that different from the one in this was fire-engine red with a cheap gold lock so my Mom couldn't read it. Mostly, I was afraid she'd see how many times I dreamed about running away to somewhere infinitely more exciting and exotic than my hometown of Ladysmith, Wisconsin.

I had this whole gypsy life planned for myself, and I didn't want her to steal my thunder with practical questions like how I'd pay for my travels, what I'd do for work, etc.

I even remember carefully hiding the diary key in my dresser drawer with my Wonder Woman underoos (remember those?) like I had all these secrets that I desperately wanted no one else to read. But somehow, that air of mystery of writing something that no one else was privy to was simply exhilarating. I couldn't get enough of it, and I quickly filled pages and pages with my random thoughts and juvenile ruminations.

And many times when I'm sitting in front of my laptop these days, I'm still trying to find that youthful exuberance about writing. Sometimes I'll find any excuse (an episode of Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals" I must watch, laundry that has to be folded, M&Ms that will self-destruct if they're not snacked on) to put off the inevitable deadlines. And it's not because I don't love what I'm doing, (I do) but that it's become a job and something I have to do, rather than something I get the privilege of doing.

But as I'm really diving in to my third novel, I'm trying to write with the non-judgmental spirit I used to have when I was nine. I'm writing more stream-of-consciousness style and leaving the editing for later. (On a side note, this is not how I usually roll. I'm usually not content to move on to a new paragraph until what's proceeding it is my idea of perfection—or at least perfection that particular day). Now I'm writing like no one else is reading. And I have to say that it's really, truly freeing to approach my prose as if it were just a diary entry about this girl named Sydney and her wacky cast of pals.

I guess I'm telling you all of this because maybe you feel the same. You're in a rut, and you don't know why because you absolutely, positively love what you do. Truth be told, it's good to switch things up from time to time, you know embrace your nine-year-old self and see what happens. I'm personally hoping for great things (and it's nice not to have to lock the contents once I'm finished for the day).


  1. Is this the third Sydney Alexander novel you're working on? I just ordered the first two today (along with Betsy's Return to Love) with my anniversary money. Clever girl that I am, I asked my husband to save the money he would have normally spent on flowers and let me make an Amazon order. Flowers last only days, while a book will last a lifetime. ;o)

    Anyway, great post today, Christa. I don't know what's up with me, but lately I'm having serious avoidance issues with putting anything that resembles an actual story down on the page. I'm tricking myself by free writing plot summaries and story ideas and fleshing out characters. Trying to keep with it, even when the blank page seems to bounce my words right back off. Oh well, as you said, there's always socks to fold and counters to wipe. And self-destructing M&Ms are no laughing matter...

  2. It IS the third Sydney Alexander novel that I'm working you'll have something to look forward to after the first two. :) And I'm honored that you gave up flowers for Betsy's and my'll have to tell me how you like 'em when you're done. :)

    And hey, I know all about those avoidance definitely happens from time to time. But before you know it, you'll be writing again like a crazy person, and no M&Ms, self-destructing or not, will get in your way. Keep me posted on how it's going, k?