Wednesday, July 27, 2005

one more sojuorn

I'm rounding into the final stretch of my rewrite. Surprisingly, the editor didn't have a whole lot of changes he wanted me to make. But there were a couple of major turning points in the narrative that he wanted me to bear down and nail. For the past few weeks, I've been putting off this challenge. I just couldn't seem to get my brain going, and I stuck to more nechanical line editing. So to trick myself into productivity, I took yet another sojourn, this time to the Motel 6 pictured above.

This place is on 87th just off I-435, not ten minutes from my house. But it was far enough away, and austere enough to do the trick. All I needed was one day, a night, and the better part of a morning. The rain was especially helpful, coming right when I was writing the thematic climax of the book, easily the most difficult-to-write four paragraphs in the whole thing -- it poured so hard, I couldn't even go for a walk; I had to just sit there with my thoughts until I figured it all out.

My cubicle.

My work station.

The view from the break room.

Writing is a strange occupation. A lot of times it feels like not working. That's because a lot of times -- hell, most of the time -- it is not working.

And part of me is ashamed of this. I'm not a gold brick, I've put in a few days of hard, physical labor. And I've been hustling to advance my career ever since I got out of college. But now I'm living this two-to-four-hour-work-day writer's life, and I feel torn, like I'm a lucky bastard and a total cheater all rolled into one.

But then, the time not working really is a lot of work. I saw Joyce Carol Oates speak once, and she explained the feeling of being a writer as like having a vice clamped on you head every waking moment. You never really stop thinking about your project until it's done and the editor deems it good.

And it's simply impossible to write eight hours a day. At least it is for me, and just about every writer I've heard talk about writing. If I were to compare it to some of the jobs I've had, like, say, carpet laying, it would be like having all your muscles just suddenly shut down after several hours of exertion. Or if you were dishwasher, and, midway through the shift, every effort you made actually got the dishes dirtier.

So I garden, and help coach debate. Just so's I'm not a totally lazy fool.

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