The thing about writing every day (and something that I hope is already evident) is that there is only ever limited time to spitball an idea, draft it, and pull it all together. My “day job” (night job?) is in its peak season, so at the moment I’m coming home late at night and carving in an hour or so of writing out of my sleep schedule. Each post is really a first draft, and I’m sure every writer knows that not every first draft is worth keeping. This isn’t a moan or an excuse – it’s just reality right now. Hopefully as the year goes on it will get easier, I will have more time, and my brain will be less addled by each 12-14 hr work day.
Yesterday’s lengthy post grew from the fact that I had a day off. Left to my own devices (and having more than an hour available), I am nothing if not verbose. It’s really a bad habit that I need to break, and part of this write-every-day exercise is about just that. I must learn to tell the story more quickly.
Part of the exercise is also – let’s be honest – to just get back into the habit of writing. It used to be that writing every day wasn’t hard at all. When I was rolling hard with my various manuscripts, I could stay up all night writing and not even notice. Sure it was anti-social, and caused me to eat weird things and sit still for too long, but it gave me a great deal of pleasure. With practice, I could weave beautiful tapestries out of the air. I could hit a wall in a scene and yet rush back to it excitedly the next day. I miss that. It’s like I have been neglecting my friends.
… Which I have. Terribly. I’m one of those people who forgets to keep in touch for a couple of years and then wonders where everyone has gone. I guess I’d always figured that nobody really misses my company anyway. I’m really very prickly until you get to know me well.
That was as my mother described it once: she gave birth to a monkey (my brother) and a hedgehog. She doesn’t know me that well.
I thought about all of this today as I committed to the tedious task of Hire Stock Inventory. It was sweltering in the storerooms – like counting pebbles in a sauna. And as I counted some artful conversation bounced through my consciousness… Two, three… Ah yes. A rewrite to that opening scene. He parries to her riposte… Ten, eleven… Gives him some vulnerability from the start… Sixteen. (Writes down sixteen)… Damn, what were those lines again?
Every writer has been there. Reveled in some brilliant thought and then lost it because we were too lazy or distracted to write it down. It’s a bit like being in a dream all the time. You keep forgetting what was just happening. It becomes perfectly natural that your best friend is a seal. Weren’t they a seal the whole time? Hang on, weren’t we just riding horses? How does a seal ride a horse?
And then it’s gone.
That’s precisely how I picked the quote that titles this blog: my life has been full of obscure lines hastily scrawled down in margins and on the backs of envelopes. You must grab a hold of those words right away. They won’t come back.
But then what do I do with them? Nothing really.
The narrative flows on through my head like a river – always has – and although I scoop out a bucketful every now and then, I’ve never been brave enough to catch the current for more than a moment before clambering back to shore. Not so sure where it would take me… It’s so much easier to just look at it wistfully and think, “One day…”
… Tomorrow I should tell you the story of my tattoo and why I’m even more of a coward than I sound.