Monday, July 30, 2012

that mouse, and whole cookie thing

you can't imagine what you can do in a day when you want nothing more than to write a few new words on paper and you have sworn you will not spend one more minute on facebook.

there is the walking of the dog and the search for tomatoes in the side yard patch (three, count them three times.) there is the worry over those bare patches in the back yard where the voles have taken their stand and eaten your whole fig bush and the listening for birds singing and there is the watching of the geese as they fill the front yard across the street.

and the wondering if the neighbors will bring the baby outside and the time it takes to eat a few of those tomato/basil potato chips you just bought at the store and then a flip of the channel to see what Olympic sport is taking place across the pond and of course the shower and the hair and makeup and all that even though you told yourself you needed none of this to work from home.

and there is all that checking of email, both the work kind and the home kind, and the  tweaking of the work website (just a few minutes, you promise yourself) and then finally, you sit down to read the manuscript you've been working on for what is in truth now about 10 years and when you've gotten about a third of the way through all those notes your kind and gifted teacher was so good to write on it and you finally realize you really hate it so much that you are not sure you have another word left to write about the story and by that time, well, it's just about time for lunch.

and then after you have a nice salad of those tomatoes you found you tell yourself, well, i'll just sit back down with this awful book for a few more chapters to see if there is anything at all redeeming about it and you pretend to underline the parts that need fixing in bright blue pen because you have an aversion to red pens used for any reason and well, then that whole process makes your eyes so heavy that you just nod off for a bit. to restart your batteries for writing later in the afternoon.

and then you get back at it, but while you are reading that same old passage for the 50th time your realize what you need to do is more research, so that takes another good bit of time away from the page. and better prepared from all that research, you sit back down with the characters, asking them what they really want to do about all this mess of a story, and then you start looking back at notes you wrote in 2006 (2006!?) when you weren't even 50 yet, and then you flip further back into the journal which you have never really meticulously kept and find notes you wrote even further back in 1997 (before said book was even in your imagination) for heaven's sake and you realize how much your handwriting has deteriorated since then from all the typing you've been doing at the computer. 

but you look back at that first entry anyway just to see, and you realized that of the 16 goals you set down in your own old cursive you have accomplished exactly 6, and most of those are selfish goals, come to think of it. and then as you read on, you see that it's a gratitude journal you started way back before you had done anything professional really, and that your whole work life has happened since you wrote those things down. and then you see even more goals, things like learning to ice skate, which you have never done and wouldn't now because good heavens you might break you leg! but there are things like get the house free of dust, which you gave up trying to do long ago, and work on your photography, which by golly you have been doing a good bit in the past few years, and finding an hour to yourself, well, some days that's pretty much all you have, hours to yourself and yet you waste them.

and in these selfish lines you see the beginnings of stories you went on to write and somehow the journal has in just two month's time become less of what you haven't done and more of what you hope to do. and somewhere in there is something you hope to do for someone else. imagine.

and you read on about what you most fear as a writer is not being able to find the story, which, sadly, is still true.

and so you decide you need a change of venue from the kitchen table so you move everything upstairs to that office you fixed up for yourself at just about the time you found a job that would take you out of it. that same office with the books piled on the floor and the many drafts of that book you have been writing crowded around you like children waiting for storytime, and you wonder if you should go back to the very beginning, to that now very tired first draft to see what all the fuss was about in the first place.

but first you need to empty that overflowing recycling basket, and as you reach the bottom of the stairs you smell the water you seasoned with Old Bay and for a second you think you might have ruined the shrimp you had intended for supper but you are relieved as you throw the basket down on the kitchen floor to see the pot on the stove  is boiling over but the shrimp are sitting right where you left them, waiting for their fate.

so you start over and then the phone rings for the first time all day and while you are talking you go over to the tv where paula deen is cooking and you just have to switch channels to see what kelsey finds essential on that hip cooking channel and then you realize that in about five weeks you have failed to put away the napkins left over from your beach week so you keep talking and tuck them into an already over-flowing drawer in the living room chest and then you walk to the front door and peer out to see what happened to the storm that was brewing not 30 minutes ago but now seems to have disappeared without raining a drop.

and you feed the dog and look out at the bird feeder and then you climb the stairs again, back to that journal you wrote in with pink ink and you see that on april 23, 1997, you wrote about spending three days teaching writing at your old high school and you note how you thank God for your old English teacher and then remember standing in her classroom trying to teach her students a little something about writing, so you are thankful for her having hope in you 22 years before.

then you realize that the husband will soon be home and you will have not accomplished a single word toward your 1,100-word goal in the whole day set before you when you woke before six. not a word.

and so you start to fix the problem. and 2,687* words later, you have at least tried, even if all those words won't make it into your book.

*ps: when you look back over your work for the day, you realize that all those words, well you were overly optimistic about your accomplishments and counted them TWICE.  1,266 is more like it.

writemuch.blogspot is the original work of author susan byrum rountree. all written work and photography is copyright protected and can only be used with written permission of the author.