If I told you my days had settled into a sort of routine, would you believe me?
Oh, that’s good. Because it’s totally a lie.
In general, I try to write in the mornings, and I’ve decided, randomly, that blogging counts. To that end, I spent half an hour this morning recoloring that image at the top of the post. (It’s originally from Vectorstock.) I’m not completely happy with the colors. It strobes a bit, although with all the patterns I suppose it would.
I thought about making my own header image, but I happened upon this one, and I have a cube thing, so here we are.
What was I saying? Oh, yes! Routine.
People say a couple of things these days. One is that routine is good. It’s grounding. It keeps us focused, keeps us from spiraling about things we can’t control. Another is that routine is expendable, that beating ourselves up if we slip or can’t be as productive as usual is pointless. These are unprecedented times; we need to be more forgiving of ourselves.
And yet there’s still work to do.
I had turned away from my writing for a while. It may even have been as long as a week. I did a little bit of drawing—these eyes, for example:
Mostly I was bogged down in one of the aforementioned spirals. (Pretty sure it was an OCD attack, but it still feels weird to label things like that. Unpleasant, whatever the cause.) I read some (went back to the beginning of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series). Played a lot of video games.
But the last few days have been better, word-wise. Things are flowing better in the current book. I have solidifying ideas for the book that’s in edits. My writer-brain seems to have graciously permitted access, at least for a little while.
Here’s a super-rough bit: a memory of Elena’s, from when she was about The Kid’s age:
She knew she was dense about some things, but she wasn’t humorless. She’d told herself this all the way home, turning the joke over and over in her head, trying to figure out why they’d all thought it was funny. It wasn’t a pun or a farcical story, or even a bit of irony. Elena liked irony. Proper irony depended on someone, somewhere tripping over a reality they hadn’t realized was there. Maybe it had been anecdotal humor, the sort of thing that was only funny if you’d been in that kind of situation. Maybe Elena just hadn’t seen enough of the world.
That would change. She would graduate next year, and she’d go to college, and then she’d enlist and it would all be different. She’d get away. She’d be free, and it wouldn’t matter who laughed at her anymore.
Funny how even when I write the future I still think of kids hanging out in groups in high school.
I always feel better when I can write, but it’s hard, having put stuff out there, to write with abandon. I forget, sometimes, that it’s OK to write something that’s not part of what I’m working on, that I know nobody else will ever see. It’s OK to write for myself. I spent my whole life writing for myself, and there were times when it saved my life. Does that stuff want to be published? Hell, no. But it for sure wants to be written.
We walk on the days when the weather isn’t fussy. We’re fortunate to live in a beautiful place, although one reason it’s so sparsely populated out here is that it’s out here, far away from pretty much every metro area. My last office job was an hour and ten minutes each way on a good day. It’s amazing how easy social distancing is when you live in an area with no jobs.
Despite the forest, there are, here and there, a number of what realtors call “horse properties.” Not so many horses, though, although our neighbor keeps goats, and on the drive to The Kid’s high school there’s an alpaca farm.
I miss that drive.
Last week they officially closed the schools for the rest of the academic year. I’m relieved, and terribly sad. And angry. If I think too much about the utter clusterfuck we’ve made of this I’ll truly get nothing done.
And I want to get things done.
I tried, a little bit, doing some outlining on this book, but that’s not something that’s ever going to work for me, at least on a large scale. I’ve got the major plot arc in my head, but that’s always like a flyover, the treetops looking nearly uniform in color and depth. But writing the story is like getting dropped in the forest, and suddenly it matters if there are knots buried in the earth or thorns on that thicket you have to plow through or massive, thick-set, old growth sequoias blocking the path you were certain was right.
I can’t outline, because when I write I need to be nimble. I need to know the general direction, but past that? I need to be able to innovate. If I don’t, I just make circles until I’m tired of the whole thing.
Sometimes I feel like I have so many words inside me I’ll burst if I can’t get them down. Sometimes I feel like they’re somewhere dark inside me, growing, or maybe brewing, waiting until my head is in a space where it can listen properly.
This is part of why it takes me so damn long to finish anything. And right now, with everything in stasis? All my ideas seem to prefer brewing to bursting.
Restless, exhausted, anxious, and bored. Anybody else?