Category: footnote

Insanity: Writing

I started doing Insanity (“Dig deep!”) today in lieu of running in 1,000 degree weather.
After I asked my sister if I could borrow her Insanity DVD and explained my motivations, Emily conceded that it was possible that I might not embarrass myself at the Superhero Run this Saturday if I crammed all week long. If I kept it up, she continued, Insanity would help me with the Runaway 5k she’s hosting next month.
This morning, I almost died during the Fit Test. That’s when I got this idea: In honor of how insane it was to think I could do this for 60 whole days, I’m starting my own thing. I’m going to call it “Insanity: Writing.” What you do is write and self-publish a book in sixty days. (That’s insane!)
For those of you at home, I’ll keep as close track as possible and include weekly updates here on the ole blogaroo. (I’ve never even thought the word “blogaroo” before. It makes me feel uncomfortable.) Today—Day One—I outlined the full story for Bad Decisions. (An apt working title, I figured, considering the circumstances.) By August 22, I should have a finished project ready to launch.
Chances are I’ll give up sometime around day 10 (on both Insanities), and then write a post about how I failed miserably, maybe about how I’m not even going to show up at the Runaway 5k, just going to stay home and eat cookie dough and cry.*

*Fun Fact: When I say things like this, I’m forcing you to assume that I will fail so you won’t be surprised or disappointed if I actually do. That’s a pretty common M.O. for me. Also note how I didn’t tell you that Bad Decisions may actually turn out to be a novella. The storyline seemed fairly short to me, but I can’t tell from this side of writing how many pages each chapter is going to require.

There is, however, that outside chance I’ll stick with both Insanities, run 5k in decent time, and publish a [thing of some sort] next month. As the Lats used to say, “If there is no wind, row.” This is me rowing.
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7/24/2013
Update: It’s been brought to my attention that 60 days from July 22nd is not August 22nd, but September 22nd. So September 22, 2013 is the day I should either have a book ready to launch or have failed miserably. I’ll do my best to hold off that long, even though the concept of 2 months (not 1) continues to baffle me for some reason.

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Lately, I’ve been restless. Swamped with this need to be doing something.
A fellow Midwesterner and writer friend would say that this is our region’s neurosis showing itself—that Old Church need to account for every second of your day and turn aside the implied guilt of idleness. I don’t think she’s wrong. Every time my dad calls, he asks me what I’m doing. When I say, “Nothing,” he says, “Why the heck not?”
In eight months I wrote a book, revised, revised, revised, wrote queries, got rejections, wrote better queries and mediocre synopses, got rejections, wrote stellar queries and improved synopses. Now I’m waiting. None of the stories, books, or ideas that I’ve played with in the meantime have really felt like something I could work on in that frantic, obsessive way that comes with a project you know you are going to finish. I haven’t really worked on anything in a month and that thing inside of me that swears not moving forward is the same as sliding backward keeps asking me, “Why the heck not?”
I understand the importance of time. When I lay my boys down for a nap, I know I have one hour or less to focus entirely on writing. That’s why I spend most of the rest of my day only half-here. My mind writes while I wash the dishes, works over sentences while I sing with the boys, figures out wording while I change diapers, all so I’ll be ready. Put the boys down, get to a computer, type until your keys smoke and your brain hurts. There’s never going to be enough time to get everything done that you wanted to, but go, go, go until the clock runs out. Maybe that’s why when I hit a dead period, all that forward inertia rolls right over me.
“Go, go, go,” my brain screams.
“Where?” I wonder.
This feeling isn’t unfamiliar.* When I finish working on a story, I usually have a night of uninterrupted sleep and a day of victory. The boys and Josh and I play, go for walks, talk, listen to music, watch shows, read books, live life completely in the present tense. My mind stays with me instead of wandering off to write so that moment when everyone is asleep and I can get to a computer is not wasted. For a little while after I finish working on something, I enjoy the relaxation that comes with being directionless.
But that sort of floating can only last for so long. I have another writing friend who insists that there are “inherent problems” with the present tense. In my case, I think he’s right.** Living in the present tense means facing summer when it’s summer and winter when it’s winter. Staying in for supper when there’s no money to go out. Not having shoot-outs or crazy sex or turning into a crow and flying away. To live in the present tense means to live in the real world and the real world, to me, is not that appealing.
Or, this need to accomplish something can be looked at from a spiritual standpoint. We were listening to a Mountain Goat’s song once when Josh asked me, “Why does everyone think it’s so hard to live?” My answer was that if you really think about your purpose in life, what you are supposed to be doing compared to what you’ve actually been doing, it’s hard to go on living with yourself. “I know it is for me,” I said, not meaning to needlessly worry Josh about suicide. If you do think about it, though, God gives us each a purpose and a certain amount of time. From there it’s up to us. Any failure is on our shoulders and any wasted time is our fault.
Feeling bummed out yet? Josh would say that’s a really depressing way to look at things and I guess I can see his point, but for me it’s the opposite. If I have a purpose, I know I’ll find my way back to it. Another story will come along and I’ll work on it in a dead sprint and lay awake for hours in bed trying to get a paragraph just right so that I can type it tomorrow. Time keeps moving forward, whether you use it or waste it, and that’s comforting to me. Besides, if I get really desperate, I can always write a blog post.
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*I’ll take a moment here to preemptive strike back at the accusations that I’m committing a capital offense by writing that something is “not unfamiliar.” This is not the same thing as saying “irregardless.” I recognize this sensation and that I’ve had it before, but I honestly don’t have it often enough to call it a familiar feeling. It’s not unfamiliar, though, either.

**But to be clear: In writing’s case, I think anything is possible if it’s done right and I will never, ever change my mind about that.

One piece of drywall later…

Hanging drywall is hard.  So we stopped.*

Joshua called it:
Yesterday, we were walking over to the trailer court when a Macon County Sheriff’s car passed.  The officer was holding some papers in his hand and driving toward our house.  If you’ll remember, recently I’d been granted a second chance at reporting for jury duty.  Last time I didn’t respond to the summons because I was giving birth, then in Columbia with Oak, then excising my gallbladder and sternly rebuking my pancreas.  I had to appear in court and everything.  This time around, I straight up forgot.  When I pointed out the cop car to Joshua, he said, “You know you’re going to jail, right?”
I do.

I had a really great time at church today.  The kind you always hope you’ll have, the kind that leaves you crying and feeling better and where they sing all your favorite songs.  If admitting you have a problem is the first step, then here’s mine: I can’t handle everything on my own.  The good news is, I’m done trying.  For real, my pride isn’t worth it.

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*Not true.  Hanging drywall is so hard, but we stopped because the sheets were in the garage and it started raining again.  Not that I was upset.*’
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*’ If the footnotes look familiar, it’s because I stole them from a friend’s blog.  Sorry, Mae.