3-9 The Writing Sploosh
I had coffee in the shower this morning and I have to say, it’s almost better than a shower beer.
Almost. But what it really did was get my creativity flowing before the sun came up, and that’s something that I’ve been struggling with lately. When it comes to writing, I’m at my best first thing in the morning. The problem is, of course, that I also have a full-time job. So when I get that fiery urge to write, it continues until about noon, wherein it’s taken out back by the maths and shot.
But this morning in particular, I knew what I wanted to do with my day. I thought of a costume idea for an upcoming Christmas party, realized why I was stumbling over a particular section of my book, and successfully fed the birds, watered the cat, and made my PB&J without the mad dash through the kitchen. A good start.
Of course, by the time I got home, I’d forgotten why I’d though our costume idea was good, found another problem with the same road bump in my book, and had left a smear of peanut butter on the counter that I sat my purse in. Still, I had fresh vegetables from the market and a cabinet full of spices for Thai Curry.
So I had my best friend over for dinner and, after a glass of wine and some candles, I was ready to get rolling again.
The point is this: there are ups and downs every day. You make of it what you will, and a cup of coffee or some fresh vegetables can be the difference between a good day and a bad if you make the best of them. Enjoy the little things.
The power went out in town today.
And, funny story, there’s almost nothing for me to do in my job when there’s no electric. I sorted through papers and tried to make labels, but in 2019, even the typewriter requires electricity. So, several hours went into wandering aimlessly about, cleaning every flat surface, and cuddling my little Gimli dogger—because the fire alarms beeped and while he’ll run down a cliff or frolic under the hooves of our horses without a second thought, a single chirrup from the fire alarm transforms him into a quivering mass of panting horror.
The rest of the day went quickly. My best friend—TayTay—brought a cup of coffee to me around 3, because we were prepping for a night on the town with a Christmas party. The costumes that I half-prepped the night before were chilling in the car and my thoughts were already on how to dance in a hoop skirt (hint: you don’t).
All in all, it was a wonderful day. The party was amazing. We danced and drank into the wee hours of the morning, ran into friends, and had an awesome evening. Also, the couch TayTay provided for me was soft and long enough for me to stretch all the way out. I tucked Gimmer under the covers, put a cup of water close at hand, and fell immediately into vodka-rocked slumber.
It’s easy to get caught up in all of the little projects I make for myself, easy to feel like I’m failing at something simply by sitting and having a cup of coffee while I’m not actively writing, drawing, or reading. It’s okay to appreciate the quiet, it’s healthy to enjoy a night off.
As far as hangovers go, today’s wasn’t the worst.
Of course, when grading on a scale that starts at 7 and goes to 10—where 1 is feeling great and 10 is hiding under the toilet—that’s not saying much.
I left TayTay’s at 6AM, because I woke up and all I could think about was how my wood burner had gone cold and was sucking winter into my home. Smoking up the bathroom (you have to heat the stove pipe to get the fireplace to draw the smoke up the chimney, in case anyone is unfamiliar with the temperamental beast that is a wood burner), I fed Gimmers, took a hot bath, and crawled into bed until the afternoon.
So, it was a slower start that what I’d been hoping for. I had a lot of writing to get done, some catching up to do from missing the last two nights, and any hopes I’d had for sneaking out and playing in the snow went rapidly into the sad little bubble of shame in the back of my throbbing head.
Still, I sat down, and instantly knew where I wanted to go with my story. I not only got my 1100 words in (what I have to write daily in order to finish off the 30000 I want for the month), I ripped out and replaced a good 1500 (little story flaws that had been nagging at me for weeks). I’m also really excited with where the book is going and can’t wait for tomorrow. I’ve got all of the pieces coming together. My fingers just can’t keep up.
Today was the best day that I’ve had in months.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I had an awesome Christmas and a beautiful New Year, filled with my favorite humans. What today was, was the best writing day that I’ve had in months.
I’m curious—to all of the writers out there, what constitutes a great writing day for you? Is it bulk word count? The way you feel at the end of a session? A pleasant surprise that you didn’t know was on its way?
For me, the best writing days aren’t necessarily the ones that involve the most writing. Granted, sometimes inspiration and 9000 words go hand-in-hand. But neither of those things mean that I had a great writing day. They leave me feeling wonderful, to be sure, but what really makes an awesome writing day is when my characters come alive.
Now I’m not saying that they jump out of my brain and literally rampage in my home (although, if we’re being honest, that’s closer to the truth on what building a story is really like). Rather, I don’t have to write. There are times when characters make sense, make their own sense, and they start telling their story—not the other way around.
So that’s what happened this Sunday. My characters told me a story. There were twists and tears and I’m just so excited to share it with you.
And then I watched Bird Box and sketched my characters. Eventually, I’m going to remember to never pair suspenseful television with a glass of wine. My sketch is now dark purple. Maybe it adds to it. Maybe not.
Have you ever wondered why we love stories?
Not just because they take us to another world or because it gives us lives we otherwise never would be able to live. But why, to our very core, we need to tell stories?
I was in an evolutionary psychology class in college, and one of the books we read hypothesized that we evolved telling stories because it was a way to pass on information. More than a way—it was a necessity. Humans who didn’t find pleasure in stories were eaten by the tiger or clubbed by opposing clans.
That’s a bit literal, but you get the point. We’ve been sharing stories for thousands of years, sometimes encompassing religion, sometimes legends, but always culture. And, for a less researched and possibly beer-induced thought—The Big Bang Theory put into my mind that if we didn’t gossip, our society would melt down to its nuts and bolts with rival bike gangs killing each other over the “last few cans of tuna fish”.
I’ve always believed that books can change the world, particularly Fantasy and SciFi. A couple of times, people have asked my why I’d waste my time writing stories that aren’t true when there are so many true stories to share. And after I’m done snarling and foaming at the mouth, I make the more articulate argument that SciFi and Fantasy offer us a view of the world as it could be, a glimmer of hope, a thread of truth. All that we need to make the world a better place is to believe that one is possible.
What is today?
Tuesday? Tuesday. Now, since it’s currently Wednesday, I’m thinking back trying to remember what the hell I did on Tuesday.
Oh yeah! Tuesday was a good one. Work went swimmingly, my little Gimmer dog slept under my desk, and I was able to get home and cook dinner for my parents and sister. All in all, a good day.
And I’m listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming. What. A. Woman. What a book! What a life.
In all seriousness, I can’t recommend Becoming enough. It’s the story of a powerful, intelligent, resilient woman. It’s the story of America, through the eyes of an African American woman born in Chicago. It’s the story of a mother, a lawyer, a friend.
And, yes, it’s the story of a First Lady and her husband. But there is so much more to her than the President. There is so much more to both of them. It has me thinking about the legacy I want to leave behind, about the stories I want to tell…about the people I want to inspire.
She, for example, has inspired me. Inspired me to be a better writer, a more driven woman, a stronger character in my own story.
That’s all, really. Tuesday was a good way in the way family and good books are good. It’s warm. It’s perfect.
I’ve always hated that saying. But here we are, another Wednesday, and the first thing I thought when I woke up this morning was HUMP DAY!
How weird is it that we become dependent on things that we fundamentally loath? I take issue with so many words in the English language, and yet when I find myself in a pinch, those words just come boiling out of me. Is restraint really the only difference between good and evil?
Hmmmm…that escalated quickly from HUMP DAY. But I suppose this day does mark the slippery slope to the weekend, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise when the slippery slope takes me to the line between good and evil.
Speaking of good and evil, have I mentioned that I’m a Dungeon Master? I just started my second full campaign and I’m so excited. I’m incorporating the River Styx, so my characters all woke up with no idea who they were save the spells and weapons in their arsenals. And if I hadn’t ingested a bit too much wine that night, it would have been an elegant beginning. As it is, there was less elegance and more “GO BLUDGEON THAT CYCLOPS”, but still. I’m excited to continue the story.
That’s really all I’ve got for you tonight. There’s a sink-full of dishes leering at me from the kitchen, a fuzzy cat on my arms, and a need to crack a beer. So I think I’ll head out. Happy HUMP DAY!