Ballroom Blitz - The Sweet
My instinct is to edit the hell out of my writing from yesterday here. Just pull the whole posting down and re-do it. But I will leave it as is, up here with my fragile leo ego, because it's a nice way to say to myself, it's ok that every writing day is not a victory. Just because I have a victory on the running front heaped with personal revelation and physical, mental, and spiritual breakthroughs, doesn't mean I can come sit at the keyboard and knock it out of the park. And that's the way it all goes, right? Some days are the days of the trudging. The days where you hike in the dark, short on water. You pass expansive unseen vistas, gorgeous wildlife noshing on berries by the side of your woodsy path, perfect clearings to set up you bedroll. You go ahead and miss all of it sometimes because that's part of the trip you're taking. You just can't see it all. But you slowly learn to trust, that even though you don't get everything, you do get to the next elk sighting, the following freshwater pond, the crazy red clay crag overlooking a river where salmon fight upstream. Maybe everything you miss is just a litany of pages you have to edit out to get to your best novel. Because no matter what anyone says, first drafts don't get published as is. One, because editors need to put food on the table too, and two, because the drafts are always a thing that we work from after we work to it. When I was younger, I used to think there was something about purity of how a thing gets spit up onto paper that shouldn't be messed with. That purity of first impulse should be protected at all costs. And you can see from yesterday's posting that while the content had all the material in the world for a lovely little tale, the exhausted brain was not up to the task of exploiting such goods to their fullest potential. This is totally as it should be. Writers, like all other forms of humanity, are designed to be imperfect. It's actually our job. It is not an ailment to be cured. And so together we come to the keyboard in the morning, a hot cup of coffee and a full night's sleep later and we say, God bless the first draft. Or Goddess. But bless more so the skilled editor. I will continue this writing here with no editing along the way aside from grammar and spelling. I am saving my editing energy for the book. Which in the midst of getting ready for my secret half marathon has been idling.
Don't get me wrong, this realization is not diminishing my wonderful feelings about yesterday at all. I rarely feel an unadulterated pride about anything I do without a silent backhand. For instance, Oh that was great, but you could have done this instead. Or, Really? 2:51:58? That's just not fast enough. But yesterday I did a great job of enjoying what I accomplished. I managed, in the monsoon, to keep it cute, remain elated with the finish line as it really was.
This experience brought me a great opportunity to examine a place I visit often. I suffer a lot from a thing Michelle and I have discussed over the years that we call FOMO, or The Fear of Missing Out. Maybe you do too. I say yes to too many things, afraid I'll miss the best book, the funnest party, the most adept conversationalist. I give away all my time for solitude and putzing to try and manage an acceptable wardrobe, be in on a new club opening, go to dinners I can't really afford. Then I have to work more to pay the bills. Then I have even less time. Generally it turns out I'm not missing much. Without this solitude in which to show up for my own tasks, I am provided with a huge opportunity to whack myself with the ugly stick, enraged that I have no time to write. Some days I wonder if I have replaced this time with my "healthy" task of this marathon. The training takes forever. Houras and hours on the roads of San Francisco. But you know where the valuable time REALLY goes?
I play constantly. It calms me down up to a certain point. But then, the calming mechanism will be overtaken by an obsessive impulse. And I'll click on the tab over and over staring the one-minute games in rapid fire succession. One minute. One minute. Another. And Another. Then it's a half hour later and I haven't reached some meaningless goal in the falling exploding jeweled gaming world. And I also haven't written anything in my book. Then I go dick around on Facebook. Then more Bejeweled, which actually lives inside Facebook. I'm pretty good at it by now, but who cares? Dude, Where's My Book? That's the big thing about FOMO. It's a myth like every other thing I tell myself about how I don't have time. I could make the time. I could set limits on Facebook and Bejeweled. I mean, I could at least try. But I do love that game.
Sometimes, when I am at rest, truly at rest, open to painful truths, I realize that all of it is a way to avoid the writing. Because the writing is the scariest thing. The possibility that it will fail, but also the possibility that it won't. Every success about it is also a fear. Maybe people won't read it. But also it seems terrifying that folks might do just that. But this is the nature of my mind. The way I must get to know all these fears and either accept or expel them. They are neither good nor bad. Just scenes on the side of the path. And the easiest way around them is always through them. I've tried around. I've tried around them in bongs, in cigarettes, in road trips and in rolled up dollar bills. Around is also a nice trip, don't get me wrong. I still like to look at all the pretty stamps on my emotional visa. But through them gives me more opportunity to just sit down and do the work.
Anyhoots, I still feel like a train wreck today. But my goal is to go to work anyhow, get some book time in, and then study a master. I'm reading Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. It's my friend Amy's favorite book. And it's phenomenal. Which reminds me, can y'all suggest some other books for me for when this one is done? I got a few.