Writing vs. The Ick

I’b still sick.

Everything moved into my chest yesterday afternoon, so while I no longer feel like I’m holding my inflated head on a long string, it hurts to breathe. Coughing, which is what breathing is right now, is unspeakable. 

 I actually took a rare sick day so I could fester at home instead of infecting everyone. And I’m also going to the doctor later this morning, just in case it’s “walking pneumonia,” a misnomer if ever I heard one.* 

In the meantime, I’m reading over what I’ve written for Fun Project the past two days, while I was coming down with The Ick.  

I’ve heard some writers say that they don’t even try to write while they’re sick,  while others forge ahead.  I tend to forge, not because (or just because) I’m under self-imposed deadlines, but because the results of writing with an oxygen-starved, mucus-stuffed brain are often wonderfully surreal.

This time, all my typos are somehow related to the letter R.  The action scene appears to have been storyboarded by Escher—or the gunman really is lefthanded, short, and standing on his head—and I’ve also been channeling Raymond Chandler.  Or, I suppose, RRRaymond Chandlet.

A mysterious redhead of the female variety has popped up in my hero’s motel room with a Glock and several questions he’s not about to answer.  Since the previous ten chapters are building up a present day heist caper with moments of slapstick, I’m not sure what this noir doll thinks she’s doing there.

If the doc puts me on meds, I suppose we’ll never know.

At this point, I think I can live with that.


*That sound you just heard was my friend Grace falling over in shock.   Outside of checkups, I don’t go to the doctor for anything less than, say, dislocated metatarsals.  In the whispered words of my mother and grandmother, sitting in a waiting room for something that chicken soup and rest should cure is admitting defeat.  Sorry Mom—I yield.

I’b sick

That virus I was trying to outrun finally caught me.  I’m a sore-throated, runny-nose, tired, achy mess.  To the delight of my family, I’m also losing my voice.

My husband is taking the kids out this morning to have fun and lunch before he leaves, so I can take it easy this morning . . . and maybe get my next chapter done so the guilties don’t nag at me.

Oh, yes, I love this man of mine.

The afternoon is going to be interesting.  Thank God it’s cold and rainy—once my husband leaves, the kids and I are going to have a Jammies Day (because if we all do it, I’m not a slob) with hot chocolate and movies and playdough and other relatively quiet inside fun.  

And maybe naps . . .

Two Monday Mornings in One Week?

I woke up too late to do my walk.

Janie is off today for teacher conferences, and I still drove halfway to her school this morning before I remembered she wasn’t in the car.  It wouldn’t have mattered, except I left the house late because she wouldn’t be with me.

The deli gave me an onion bagel instead of a multigrain bagel.  I like onion bagels, but I prefer some warning before I bite into one.  Plus, I have no gum with me, so I will be wafting onion at everyone until lunch.

I’m getting a scratchy throat and I can’t be sick this weekend—my husband is going out of town tomorrow morning.

There’s nothing to be done except blow up a couple pumpkins with a bazooka.

There. I feel better.

And I’m going to see RED tonight, if I have to wear a face mask.

Pirate Nuns on the Moon 2011

I met a requested deadline today—and a week early, too!

This almost makes up for missing the personal one I’d set for last Friday morning, which meant I spent the afternoon catching up instead of rewarding myself with a matinee of RED.  A strong sense of responsibility is a curse and a burden.*  

But hitting the send button on that finished piece during my lunch break today leaves me with only two forefront projects leapfrogging over each other. 

It’s like my own personal tag-team Nanowrimo.

I love National Novel Writing Month.   It’s all about discovering that you can find the time to write an amazing amount and finish a long piece of fiction.  Not to mention realizing how truly odd your subconscious mind can be as you dredge up all sorts of things from the bottom of your imagination and throw them onto the page. 

 It was during my first Nano, <cough, cough> years ago,  that I realized I could do this thing—I could write long fiction.  

Not necessarily good long fiction, Lord knows.  But that fifty-thousand seventy-four-word pile of legal pads, printouts, envelopes, and old library pocket cards had a beginning, a middle, and an end. And I hadn’t quit

I even plowed through chapter ten, when all the doubts sidle up to whisper in my ear and I become convinced that everything I’ve written up to that point is utter garbage and a worthless waste of time.

Because it doesn’t matter. Nanowrimo isn’t about getting it down right, it’s about getting it down right now.   

That’s an incredibly freeing philosophy, being allowed a truly crappy first draft that’s allowed to be an only draft.  Marketability can go hang.

You can write anything.

Pirate Nuns!  On the Moon!  Growing celery!  To fight the Evil Mutant Monks from the Asteroid Belt!  Who need celery to establish trade relations with the Gaseous Beings from Venus!

Hey . . .

Unfortunately, if I actually try to add Nano to my schedule this year, my head will implode.  But I will honor the spirit by hitting my deadlines spot on or even early, come fire, famine, floods, or Mutant Monks.

Anyone else want to take the pledge?


* But the next installment is coming along nicely, so I’m going to see RED (so to speak) this Friday night with my friend Grace.

Writing the Elephant

Nina Killham has written (yet another) thought-provoking post on her blog.  It connects art and writing in a lovely, meditative way.

I’ve left a comment over there, but I’d like to expand on that over here.

Nina’s  post reminded me of the instructions given by “a famous sculptor” on how to create a statue of an elephant:

You get a giant block of marble . . .

. . . and carve away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.

This is more or less the way I write.  I amass a first draft*. . .

(there’s a plot in there, I promise)

. . . And I whittle and revise, edit, beta, revise, ditch a couple of subplots, fire some characters, tighten the prose, and polish away anything that isn’t the story.**

This isn’t easy—both elephants and novels are far more complicated than one might think—but it seems to work.  And it’s fun, even with the pulling of hair and the cursing of the very alphabet.  If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be any point, right?

So, while I am aiming for one of these, it’s no small accomplishment to have written an entire elephant.  Or two.  Or even three.  Because I’m learning more and more about elephants along the way.  And writing.

And hyperextending analogies.

So, anyone else have any?  Writing analogies, that is—although if you do have an elephant (written, sculpted, or otherwise) I’d love to see a photo!


*And if you think the photo exaggerates, ask my husband—I nest.  The expression on the lady’s face is, I’m told, the same one I get when someone drags me out of a scene.

**I save all the scraps of deathless prose in a folder.  Who knows when those ninja monkey nuns might come in handy?