Two weeks ago, I showed off my wall with its technicolor notes and the bare bones of what will one day become a novel. I was very excited to write it.
I’m still excited, though the feeling been superseded by some creative frustration. It turns out that when you run a blog where you write a different piece of short fiction every day, you make some interesting habits. On the good side: you write consistently, on demand, and you learn how to farm ideas instead of waiting for that mythical inspiration. On the bad side: you believe that a good draft takes about an hour, editing can be done in half an hour, and at the end of that time, you should have a piece of writing you’re pretty happy with.
That is not how you write a novel.
Answers served with…
Kate Kearney searched: How many sweaters do you own?
Well, ownership is a tricky concept for me at this exact moment. There are currently 13 sweaters in my room. Six of them will be put into my car later tonight, and will definitely continue to be my sweaters past ten o’clock tomorrow morning. The other seven sweaters will stay in my room, but at ten o’clock in the morning my room will cease to be my room, seeing as I’m moving out.
Will the seven sweaters still be my sweaters?
I figure it depends on whether I come back to claim them before my little sister “borrows” them.
Here are some things that have been saved in my Drafts folder with the idea that I will one day expand them into full blog posts (since they have all been hanging around for at least six months, it seems unlikely):
I’m always bad at dealing with the end of vacations. I appreciate the familiarity of my own bed. I like the freedom to cook my own food. I love the people who smile at me on a daily basis. Still, my thoughts on those last few days almost always hover around plots to steal just a little more time. Or how to escape to do it again.
The fact that I come home every time has nothing to do with me not being devious enough.
Ask me about the character flaw that most often bites me, and I will tell you about my unshakeable and absolutely delusional belief that any problem can be solved by running straight at it and driving it into the ground. Or driving it into that convenient brick wall behind it, in the off chance that I can’t actually knock it off its feet. Or into orbit where it will explode for inexplicable but serendipitous reasons. I walk around with a complete misunderstanding of momentum, believing that if the problem is still standing, that I just need to angle my shoulder a little differently and hit a little harder.
Try, try, and try again. Always at full speed. Because the game isn’t worth playing unless you’re willing to play every card you hold.
And nine times out of ten, my stubbornness gets me through, or at least to the next place I had set my sights. The tenth time, it grinds me down one layer at a time until I’m laying flat out, trying to remember when my bones developed these disadvantageous lead cores, trying to remember when I became part of the problem. And why the problem is still there, because I sure feel as if I’ve already walloped myself in the face.
I have been learning – probably since the first conscious day that I infant-army-crawled over to the shine on a finish line – to recognize the difference between being up for a challenge, and being up to it.
You see, I am always up for a challenge. My favorite phrases seem to be “Oh, yeah?” “Heck, yeah!” and “Watch me” (none of which have ever gotten me into anything less than magnificent trouble). I take dares like vitamins, I take “you can’t” statements as open invitations, and I climb the twisted ropes of impossible goals with a will because they take me past such interesting possible and near-impossible things.
But I am not always up to – capable and prepared for – a challenge. I often bite off more than I can chew. I prefer to win large or lose large, rather that fold or sit out.
When I woke up this morning, I had every intention of writing a thoughtful blog post today. And when I say ‘when I woke up,’ I do mean the fives minutes directly after I woke up. Because five minutes after – when I had woken enough to open my eyes, but not to use them, enough to get up and move, but not enough to commit to anything greater than a shuffle – I left my room and stubbed my pinky toe, hard.
The day has mostly been spent on contemplations about how often to apply ice, what color my foot will be tomorrow, and how strict public places are on the footwear requirement since my toe has swollen so much as to look like I have attached a miniature whale to my foot in place of the last digit. I haven’t thought much about grammar, or character, or spelling, or word usage (beyond determining whether this is a throbbing, pulsing or shooting pain).
I have considered the best ways to limp when avoiding a certain toe. It would be easier to avoid my own shadow.
And I’ve considered how much that little toe affects my balance. The fact that it does has rattled around my skull for a while now, but I have finally found my proof. Pinky toes are necessary. Although, they could stand not to complain so loudly when injured.
About a year ago, I noticed my total views count here on Apprentice Never Master waltzing up past 1900. As soon as it did, I couldn’t help seeing a year every time I checked it, and I unexpectedly went on an adventure through time, without a guide. Without meaning to, I stumbled, slack-jawed into the future, and realized that I had no idea how to get back.
In fact, my time-travel machine had one major flaw: someone – and I won’t point any fingers, or name any names – broke reverse, and I was trapped in a mad, amazing barrel forward into the unknown, stuck in my permanent forward momentum.
It was terrifying. It was wonderful. I grinned like a maniac until one clever commenter questioned how high the number had to climb before it would cease to look like a year.
On average, I spend two hours a day toddling about the blog, writing, editing, and denting my head on metaphoric brick walls when I can’t come up with that one adjective that begins with a c and ends with a c and means the thing that is sort of like evil but more about noise and gosh darnnit, what is that WORD?
Over the year and a half that I have been blogging, that means I have spent just shy of a thousand hours with my fingers on the keyboard and my head in the fictional clouds.
Does it sound like time for a gag reel to you?
I rarely have trouble sleeping. Blame it on the fact that I usually don’t crash into my bed until the wee hours of the morning, but when I do, the eyes shut, the brain flicks off, and I dream about strange things… like having to rescue a dress from being used in a sacrifice ritual and being thwarted because I can’t find the shoes.
Except on the nights when the brain does not turn off. Thoughts and images, problems to be solved, adventures to consider, money mathematics that would boggle me in daylight, jobs to be done, half a story-plot, the reminder to vacuum the carpet in the morning, the nagging belief that if I just try hard enough, I can remember the funny story behind my best friend wanting to name her dog Self-Respect, all running through my head. The volume on full blast.
And I lay in bed, feeling like I’m scrambling for a remote that I just can’t seem to find, without which I can’t turn it down, and I can’t turn it off.
Answers served: three-hundred seventy-eight and counting…
Kate Kearney searched: What technology do you think would be lost if the modern world plunged back into a dark age like environment?
I remember being ten years old and watching a casual game of tag come to a stuttering halt as a friend of mine asked what I thought life would be like after Y2K hit and all technology fell off the face of the planet. As I recall, I blinked at him a lot. Then I said something along the lines of “I guess, we’ll all just reinvent the stuff,” and tried not to look at him like he was an idiot.
Thirteen years later, I realize that we don’t all understand the things that we use on a daily basis. I’m still coming to grips with the idea that things can be lost entirely. I’ve read how we lost the old wax-cast method for casting bronze, but I have a hard time believing that there isn’t one family somewhere that’s been passing the secret down generations like a funny game of Jacob’s ladder.
In fact, I like the idea that regressing into near dark-ages would bring our family secrets back, and most of the world would just think that we had lost how to cleanly bend metal pipes without creases or collapsing the insides (that would be my family secret, if I understand the old stories correctly).
Of course, my assumption here, is that we’ve lost communication. Our instantaneous chit-chat is long gone. Our ability to touch someone on the opposite side of the world? Wonder tales that grandpa tells us around the furnace (fires are so last century). The fast-talking, world-shrinking, secret=shredding web of internet and telephone has disappeared.
So, I suppose, that’s what I think we’d lose if we were plunged back into the dark ages.