Saturday, January 30, 2016

Writer on Saturday. A Still Life.

The last good day of writing I had was when I was out of town in December--at a writing workshop.  In an effort to recreate that day of  end-to-end productivity I copied it: 1) I walked to the library.     2) There is no '2'.  I walked to the library.

Walking means I have no car, so no easy escape.  No, 'I have a headache I think I'll go to Hobby Lobby and roam the Valentines aisle'.  No 'let me just get a Big Mac and come back and write.'

Walking also meant no laptop today.  I had to use pen and paper, just like in December. This is an interesting exercise and I'm trying to decide if I like it or not.  Since I'm an IT person by day I spend 8-10 hours on a computer Monday through Friday.  I think using a different medium might be a good trick for me.

" the library" means I'm surrounded by quiet, books, clean, and calm, I have one of those four things at home (and you know I have books).  Plus, I have distractions in the house I live in.  I'm so proud of my writing room at home, but I rarely get there.  I get sidetracked by things in the hallway upstairs, or by the timer on the dryer, the dog needing to play fetch or by the comfy recliner up there in our extra TV room, and a rerun of...anything.  I'm easily distracted.  The library had very few distractions.  My hometown library has been recently redesigned, and is beautiful now, although I've always been partial to it.  I was able to snag a shiny new private cubbie, with a table and a door that shuts.

I also brought my notes from December along with some amazing inspirational quotes my teacher shared that day, and it was an auspicious start to three hours of writing.  Another chapter done, an outline begun, some backstory figured out.  And, if I hadn't seen an Ivan Doig book there in the resale room it would have been free.  And did I mention the silence??

Silence.  Heavy, encompassing, thick, lovely silence.  It isn't easy to find.  I couldn't hear anyone on their phone, I couldn't hear doors slam or jewelry commercials or dogs barking.  I couldn't even hear computer mice clicking away, which they were doing fifty feet from me, but silently.

And writing got done.

I'll end with one of the quotes from my stockpile of encouragement:

              I want to live other lives.  I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get.  Writing is my          way of making other chances.  
                                                       --Anne Tyler

Thursday, January 28, 2016

And the Eleven goes to...

In 2015 I achieved a personal best--I posted to this blog 11 months out of twelve.  I'm happy about this and have decided I like receiving awards and may do so on a regular basis. Give YOURself an award for something you are proud of.  Nearly perfect is high praise for you too.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Too much of a good thing

On Christmas day, it’s a cliché, but one of my dreams came true.  I woke up, had a decadent breakfast in my pajamas with all four of my kids at the same dining room table with Chuck and I, and then stayed in those pajamas, all day.  I fantasize of days like this.  Christmas day I read, I puzzled, I conversed, I played a board game, I noshed on Maurie's turtles and cold ham and brioche rolls.  Candles were burned, new soft throws were involved.  So stress free.  So obligation free. So free.  I had a warmth in my chest that could only be described as deep contentment.  And very pointed gratitude.

Fast forward to New Years day, when I somewhat recreated this scenario.  Well, not exactly.  First of all not surrounded by my kids.  Second, no good leftovers.  But it was another glorious day with no plans or obligations, and I stayed in my pajamas….until about 3pm when I broke out of jail.  Where was the contentment?  Where was the warm feeling?  Instead I was plagued with the need to do. Be productive.  Put away Christmas or work on my novel or establish some goals or buy new pillows.

My first thought is the old 'too much of a good thing is not a good thing'.  Even though I covet free time and would happily quit my job and fill my days with projects and trips and reading and writing and ‘rithmatic, the pajama fantasy is limited.  I was cracking good at one solid day of it. 

I am not good at doing the same thing twice in a row and have written about this before.  That is why I have chosen to work in a workplace where in the same forty-five minutes I might help the volunteer in the gift shop reboot her credit card machine, notify the Peds providers they are missing Meaningful Use due to measure 17, and jot out an implementation plan for transitioning our 50 or so live interfaces from eGate to Intersystems interface engine. In most IT shops this would be three different people if not three entirely distinct teams. 
This is why I have three separate Pinterest boards for houses: new construction, flipping, and remodeling ours.  If I just focused on the one I would die of monotony. 

This is why I have unread books on my bedside table, in my kindle, on my upstairs bookshelf, on my phone, in my car and on my to-be-read shelf in Goodreads, Pinterest, and Amazon.  Reading is a classic ADD soother. You can be in Witchita, KS as a sous chef and the same day be a 60-something private detective in Nova Scotia. Variety is built in.  Who would settle for less? Heck, maybe reading incessantly since 5th grade is the cause of my self-diagnosed ADD. 

This is why yesterday I watched four episodes of a video series on writing well, I colored in my adult coloring book, I surfed vacations for June and real estate for retirement.  I perused my high school yearbook reading some of the tributes. I also did take down the tree, shop for a calendar and fill it out, invite people for lunch tomorrow and put an old pillowcase on a new pillow. 

OK, I’m getting that quite familiar sensation that I have what others call 'issues'.  It isn’t medically-diagnosed ADD because I’m able to focus.  It is probably a more superficial inability to be bored.  Boredom intolerance.  Variety junkie.  I would say ‘spoiled brat syndrome’ but immediately my internal defender can point to hours, weeks, and years I do perform tedious repetitive tasks, I just don’t chose to write about them.  I mean I make my stupid bed every week at least.  

The thing is, today, just 24 hours later I don’t feel that way.  I feel like sitting here staring at my blinking cursor, angst-free, is a reasonable and appropriate activity.  I might do the dishes. Or not. I guess since I invited people to lunch for tomorrow I will. I 'suffer from' some watered-down variation of bi-polarity, which my theory is everyone has to some degree.  We’re all on that ‘spectrum’ as they say. 

I should end this with a nice resolution for the new year, but that could be a dangerous path for a variety junkie.  I might overdose and suddenly it will be 5pm, my fingers sore and color-stained.  Instead I’m going to breathe. That’s my resolution for 2016.  Breathe and accept. Breath and accept.
Who am I kidding?  I'm going to go make a color-coded chart of my goals for 2016.  The dishes will wait.