I’m on a self-imposed writing hiatus. A short one, sure, but a real break. I need distance. Distance from the story and the characters, and even more so, distance from the me/narrator writing said story.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still lying in bed at night, tortured hourly by chapters that may, or may not, be out of order, conjuring up better first lines and screamin’ hot titles, and scribbling down notes that I hope I’ll be able to read (did I say scribble?) later. I’ve only got a few days left so I thought I’d share some things I’m doing to keep myself from working (on purpose).
1. Laundry. You might think this is not so spectacular, but then we’ve never met and you have no idea what I’ll do to avoid moving the heavy-wet-whites from washer to dryer or, god forbid, fold socks and towels.
2. Jogging. For someone who has not exercised much for a year, I can’t tell you what hell this is. I’d rather be working. Or doing laundry. It’s cold outside, and I’m dragging around 20 extra pounds. Or is it 30? But who’s counting….
3. Wedding Errands. My daughter is getting married this summer. Last week I sampled so much catering food — porcini mushrooms on a polenta square, smoked salmon and creme fraiche in a mini-cone, steak with pepper sauce, sea bass under an orange zest glaze, some vegan thing called a “Dream Galette” — I swore I’d never eat again. I lied. Big surprise. This week I’m moving on to the cakes. There are lots of cakes.
4. Playing Scrabble on my iPad. I play against the computer Expert and I swear he cheats. Bastard. Makes up words like Cormac McCarthy. I’ve never heard of Expert’s words, but then I go to the dictionary and voila, there they are, shaming me. Manurial. Pomenda. Ramify. Baize.
5. Reading several books at a time. This will be hard to give up when the writing thing takes over again. But I’ve also spent good time browsing favorites: the first few pages of Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke (that monkey scene breaks my heart); looking at the structure in Russell Banks’s Affliction and Judith Guest’s Ordinary People; seeing how Mary Karr sets up each chapter in Lit in the present and then moves to the past. Buy these books. Buy them. They are life changers.
6. Scheduling really fun doctor appointments: cataract surgery, dermatologist, colonoscopy. You’re jealous, I’m sure. Cataract surgery at 45. That blows.
7. Did I mention the wedding? We spent the weekend looking at flowers. I never, ever want to spend that many hours talking to someone about flowers ever again. I mean, they’re JUST FLOWERS. My daughter has pictures of EXACTLY what she wants. We don’t need the bullshit sales pitch. We don’t need to know how “cool” you are. Why is this so hard?
8. Looking at old photos of the women in my family. They were some serious babes. Grandma Ann, Mom, Aunt Mary — you guys were hot in your day. And Aunt Mary, you’re still hot at 64. Don’t worry about that one wrinkle, your first. “I found a wrinkle!” you said. “Damned Avon!” Relax. The Avon is still working. Of course there are also, sprinkled in there, pictures of the younger, skinnier me — hence the jogging.
9. Walking my dogs, sometimes twice a day! Twice a flippin’ day!! A treat for them, and a real treat for me. Even if it is cold. They’re good, too, like walking a team of well-trained horses, right in step, in the yoke. Unless there’s a squirrel, or a cat — those cats are like harlots — then all bets are off.
It’s hard not writing. I’d compare it to not smoking, but you smokers out there wouldn’t buy it. I’m dying to type, though. Which means this is working.