Writing is a mystery to me still. Sometimes the amount of words that pour out of me onto the page is shocking – I can write twenty pages on the novel, a short story, and three blog posts – all in one day. However, this only seems to be true every second month when the moon is on the wane or only if the skies are clear or the barometric pressure steady, in odd numbered years. Maybe. In other words, there is no way to predict what is going to bubble forth from my busy brain at any time. I’m quite sure it’s easier to predict earthquakes.
This past weekend I had the house to myself as hubby and kids drove to the U.S. to visit family. I looked forward to the peace and quiet, I confess. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to really flex my writing muscles and lay down page after page of my novel. I even (foolishly) went so far as to set goals for number of pages I wanted to write.
Let’s just say the writing spirits had other ideas. On Friday (Canada Day), I saw the family off and fired up the laptop, anxious to get to work. Suddenly, I was struck by the most profound sleepiness – like Dorothy & Co. in the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz. I curled up next to the idle laptop and took a nap. A good portion of the day – gone. Late in the afternoon, I managed to eek out five pages of work. Or maybe it was three…
The next day, I vowed to do better! I couldn’t allow an entire long weekend to go to waste! I ignored my blog, ignored the sunny weather and hunkered down. I wrote but I can’t say it was inspired stuff. Let’s just call it quantity in lieu of quality. My story was starting to get me down. Things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. I contemplated killing off a character or two…
When in doubt, paint. Or pull weeds. Do something that gets you out of your own way. I like to grab a can of paint and find one of the many,many walls in my house that could use a lick of paint. It seems to unclog my mind. Slowly, random thoughts flow in and out. Ideas will come to me, unbidden, about whatever story I’m working on. Somewhere buried underneath the newspaper, wet rag, and paintbrushes is my paint splattered notebook. If I’ve managed NOT to use my pen as a stir stick for the paint, I can jot ideas down as they come.
That afternoon, after painting the baseboards in my son’s room, I wrote an additional seven pages. Everyone lived to see another page. Sunday, however, was a write-off. I had been laid low by the news that my sister’s ashes had been scattered in Scotland. Sobbing, I posted a blog (see post “Letter to Lorgill”) about it and then proceeded to eat my way through the pantry, still sobbing. In between sniffles, I realized that something had come of my mini nervous breakdown after all. As I said, this writing thing is a mystery.
Some days are just like that. I try not to stress out about them too much. I am blessed with a busy brain; the words are in there all the time but they come out when they damn well please. Some writing experts will chide me for being undisciplined but everyone has to find what works for them. Naps are good. Spending time with my kids is better. The writing will happen because eventually, the skies will clear, the moon will move from one phase to the next and the barometer will steady itself, even if only for an hour.