Saturday, March 08, 2014

Not "Just Writing" Exactly

Melting Snow
There is much more than shows here in most spots!
photo by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt
click image to view larger.
            Friday, March 7, 2014, 3:18 PM I am walking between walls of snow over wet and icy concrete.  The snow and ice are melting because the sun is shining and there are puddles gathering in the low spots. Deep puddles.
            Yesterday was my first day on this new Psion, whose name is Caution Bravery.  I woke up this morning with a very sore thumb and rubbed on some Voltaren gel in hopes of cutting back on the pain so I could function.
            So, this is my writing practice.  Slogging through puddles in the achingly brilliant sun.  Wait, that's too many adjectives and adverbs.  The snow has a high albedo, and could damage one's eyes if one were out in it too long in the sun.  It doesn't look dirty, as it often does when it melts, because there is a fresh layer over the old snow.
            What are today's goals for a writing practice?
            1) Awareness:  to be as fully awake aware, alive and present as possible in this moment of bright sun, splashing water, melting snow, water running down storm drains, thick and muddy.  To be awake in my own life and within my own thoughts, and to be awake to world and the people in it.  I see wet grass emerging form under the snow, brown and soggy, soggy leaves left from autumn.  I notice I am dressed too warmly and am getting overheated.  I notice the sounds of splashing as I walk, the birds cheeping, cars passing on the street, my discomfort walking over the ice.  I notice wanting to go home and divest myself of my heavy coat and hat.
            I try to save my words and get an error message.  I decide to go home and start over.
            I realize that I am carrying my backpack, because I was originally intending to go to the grocery store.  I take it off and cram my big thick coat and my hat.  I am STILL warm.  Water has splashed over the top of my boots and my feet are wet.
            I had attempted to stop my watch, but it had not stopped.  I am timing my walk because I have to walk a minimum of 45 minutes.  Sometimes, because of my fibromyalgia, this is difficult for me, and other times I can walk much longer and farther. 
            I have come out to Mack, a local main drag, in hopes of better sidewalks and less ice and water, and so far, this is turned out to be a wise move on those fronts, but now I have to endure constant traffic.
            I am carrying my little 2/3 Panasonic camera (“Pandora”) with the stereo close-up lens.  I would like to go in florist shop and photograph the flowers, but because of the biopsies on my face, and Band-Aids over them, I feel like a freak.  Keith says I look as if I've been in a knife flight, and that's not reassuring.  I feel shy about asking to photograph the flowers when I look like Frankenstein’s monster.
            2) Journal:  My writing practice often serves as a journal and record of my life, which feels valuable to me, so I continue with the goal of using my writing practice to record events and concerns.  I could go on about that, but several other things wish to be recorded.
            3) Discovery:  it is in my writing practice that I often discover that I am thinking or feeling.  I love the little aha moments.  I can't exactly write that down as a goal, or maybe I can.  It's sort of like expecting the unexpected.
            4) Generate ideas:  I wish, during some of my writing practice sessions, to generate ideas for my current writing projects, my poems, novels, kids’ books, short stories etc.  Often, bits that begin as "just writing" morph into goal-oriented writing, that is, a poem or story or an idea for novel. 
            I have a regrettable tendency to write myself into a corner, from which I can't find an exit without tracking over wet-paint or battling the Urgals.  Sometimes, in my writing practice, I can find a chainsaw or shoes with stickers on them so that I can walk through or up the wall and escape.
            In one of my novels, the bad guys orchestrated the killing of some lesser bad guys, some good guys and the protagonist in a complex scheme.  I knew what they were up to when I started, but I've had a senior event and forgotten what I had in mind.  I had this novel more than 3/4 written (first rough draft) and would like to rediscover my intention for it or invent a new one.  That would be a good thing to do in a writing practice--at least I think so. 
            Actually, what really happened was sadder (to me) and more complex that what I just wrote.  Here's what happened:  I took a vacation from work (in Syracuse, at the time) and went to the UP (Upper Peninsula) in Michigan and stayed at a campground right on the beach.  I set up a little table on the beach and spent two weeks working on my novel.  I'd already been working on it for a year and my goal was to finish it and I nearly did, but right near the end, there was a computer glitch and the computer blue-screened repeatedly and had to be sent back to IBM to be repaired.  Everything on it was lost.
            I had a backup copy on a CD, but the heat in the car warped the CD, rendering it useless.  I had another back-up copy on the Psion, but the day I returned from vacation, someone at the museum stole the Psion.  (I know who it was, but that's another story.)            For years, I hoped my stolen Psion would come back to me, but it never did, and I guess I have to let go of it.
            I had backed up the Psion on yet another computer at work, but Nerd Boys were updating the system, and when they saved my data, they missed that because it was in a folder labeled Psion and they didn't know it was important.
            So, in the space of only a few days, I went from having a nearly completed first rough-draft novel to having only a printed copy of a much earlier draft from months before my two weeks of work.  (There may be other copies extant, but I have not been able to locate any).
            Then, life came along, as it often does.  I met Keith, my mother was hospitalized, had a series of horrible experiences and then died, my aunt died, I had three houses to sort through, a romance and marriage, and so on, so I didn't have a chance to work on mentally retrieving the novel.  All I have left is that early version and my memories, which daily grow dimmer, of what I had wanted to write.
            The novel in question started as a gift to a coworker who liked Stephen King and was kind of preposterous at first.  It had all sorts of crazy, unbelievable events and characters.  For example, the protagonist has amnesia, which is something writing books admonish one to avoid, and I knew that when I chose to include it.  A giant turtle appears in the story.  But I had "solved" the problems created by the strange things I added for my friend.  Only the problem of the "mafia" types remained.  What exactly were they up to?  AND, fiddlesticks, I thought I'd solved that, too.  Only, I cannot remember what I'd come up with.
            I like the characters.
            Is the novel worth reinventing?  Or should I ditch it and go on to one of the others?
            Common sense says, ditch it.
            My heart says, revive it.
            I like to honor my heart, but my heart hasn't given me the key to the mystery that I had, or thought I had, and then lost.

            So, in my writing practice, I'm secretly looking for clues.  I'm hoping they might pop up the way lost dreams sometimes do.  A key on a battered, faded ribbon.


John said...

Wow, this is definitely an "in the moment" post Mary, great to read

I know the feeling with lost work, it is very har when the echoes pf the original inspiration pull you, recapturing though the original thought process is so very hard.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks, John! it IS very difficult and the process is like grief.