There are chickens, and there are eggs, and I don’t actually care which came first, yet sometimes it’s fun to do a few laps with circular questions. For example, I’m attracted to photographs that suggest windows or views into other worlds. It can’t be a coincidence that I’m writing a series of speculative fiction novels placed in an infinite set of dimensions called FRAMES. The attraction probably preceded the writing but I no longer remember. Of course, that’s because I’ve been just-about-finishing the latest/second book in the series for longer than my memory stretches, but I digress.
On a recent trip to Dallas, I came upon a building that may be a Grand Central to many other realities:
In writing FRAMES I have also indulged or created my belief that buildings have personalities. This summer in Chicago I caught some buildings in another dimension, smoking…
And who could not want to chat with this guy? Gal? Whose voice do you hear when you imagine a conversation with this building?
(The WP photo challenge was Boundaries.)
I loved the days when my kids could take just about anything and convert it to something fun to do. For example,
giant-boxes-on-board-screwed-into-two-sets-of-skateboard-wheels + gentle-incline => tandem go-cart race
On your mark…
And awaaaay they go…
I probably thought this was horribly dangerous. If only this had remained the pinnacle of risks that my now 19-year-olds would ever undertake.
More progress with less time. That seems to be the bottom line. Yesterday, the middle of three days off, I had all day to write. I frittered and chilled and squandered all those hours on doin’ nuthin’ (which has its own rewards but that’s another story).
This morning, crammed between the trip to the mechanic and the shuttling of kids – first items on a long must-do list – I knew it was now or never and I got a weekend’s worth of writing done in a couple hours.
These are recurring refrains. The tighter the time span, the more I get done, especially when preceded by a day of “nothing”, during which some part of my brain figures out what I need to write: when I sat down today I had it all figured out, but yesterday I had not a clue.
On one level, I hate routine. I’ve made important life decisions based on a futile attempt to avoid repetition. Changes of jobs, homes, cities – and probably relationships. I have to fight feeling trapped once I exhaust the options for fresh experience. But that time will always come. There are only so many ways you can drive to the store, if you are going to the same damn store from the same damn house.
Yet, concurrently, repetition and routine provide essential foundations to so much that matters to me. While it is always great to share a new experience with my kids, the comforting patterns of family life are constructed of routine. There is no question that I plan most of my writing during mundane tasks like toothbrushing or weeding. And one of the richest benefits of travel is how much I appreciate home when I return.
I have a friend who talks about Buddhist intent to stay fully present in each moment – aware of the give of the keyboard as I type, conscious of the flow of water and the scratch of the scrubpad as I wash a plate. She strives for this awareness to feel grounded and calm. I try it and discover subtle variations that make each repetition unique. Doing this seems to be as close as I can get to meditation -with all my Western impatience and resistance to organized faith.
In 1967 Delacort published a novel by Patricia Cooper called In Deep. Ever heard of it? Probably not. I read it waybackwhen, remembered liking it, now I’m re-reading. It. Is. So. Good. My Dell paperback reprint wants to portray it as a sex romp through swinging Manhattan. Actually it is an edgy and suspenseful family drama, full of wit, insight, and memorable turns of phrase. As far as I can tell, this is Cooper’s only novel. She may have written a couple other, non-fiction books. (She doesn’t have much of an on-line footprint and there may be more than one author with her name.)
Wonder why she stopped writing fiction. Hope it was because she was done, not thwarted or demoralized. It can be hard to distinguish between done and done in. I hope she didn’t give up.
As I write about her, I think about me, and I hope I don’t give up. Twenty years between novels makes me a first time novelist twice over. And the publishing world of the early ’90s was so different that memories of it can be liabilities today. But I’m not done. So I’ve decided to believe that Cooper pulled a Harper Lee and stopped because she had said what she wanted to say.
Now I had better sign off to go get some writing done.
I want to write a novel that makes people feel the way my favorite songs make me feel.
If I talk about what I am writing – or planning to write – I make the writing more difficult and put the piece at risk of getting set aside, ne’er to be finished. It doesn’t matter what the listener’s reaction is – enthusiasm or boredom, support or disdain – sharing the ideas damages my process of converting ideas to fiction. After I talk about writing, I simply feel less urgency to get it done.
Seems like it would be fun to brainstorm with other writers or use them as sounding boards. But I’m not sure I could even talk to the cats without jeopardy. Maybe I could talk to a mirror? Never mind about that. Creepy.
Am I the only one in this situation? That doesn’t seem possible. Other writers, which side of this fence are you on?