It’s been over two long, tortuous months since I’ve written anything substantial or worthwhile, unless you want to count (a) telephone messages, and (b) the few abbreviated paragraphs I’ve written in my personal journal. I don’t count those, though, since phone messages don’t meet minimum word requirements (“call Dick on cell”), and, while I can get downright verbose when complaining about the universe and everything in it, what I write in my journal isn’t motivated by creative impulse; I’m not at all picky about how many run-on sentences there are, or how many times I use the word, “stupid.”
I love to write. I want to write. I can’t think of anything else but writing, unless I’m thinking of ways of getting out of it…and, technically, that’s still thinking about writing. I wake up on weekends, excited at the prospect of a private rendezvous with my laptop, but I’m invariably diverted by the forbidding, ominous Voice of Responsibility, snidely asking me, “are you sure there isn’t something else you ought to be doing?” It hits me with the same cold bucket of guilt I get doused with every time I see a dust bunny provocatively lying in the middle of my hallway. My first inclination is to ignore it instead of sweeping it up, hoping it finds companionship with friends under the sofa, but guilt always sends me looking for the broom.
And if the Voice of Responsibility fails to completely derail my good intentions, its best-buddy and second lieutenant, the Voice of Let’s-Do-Anything-But, adds its two-cents worth. Last Saturday, for instance, I woke up excited about having a day to myself to write, to get lost in my imagination, with no one to wait on, or do for, or think of. Hubby was gone for the day and the dogs weren’t going to be a problem because they’re pretty much self-sufficient as long as there’s food in their bowls. But, the Voices had other ideas:
“You’ve only got about thirty pages left to read in your book,” they whined. “Why don’t you sit down with a cup of coffee and finish it? It’s so good, and even though this is the thirty-fourth time you’ve read it, the best part’s just a few pages away!”
I immediately agreed. I filled my coffee cup one more time, sat down, and finished my book.
The next thing I hear is, “You know, you should wash the sheets on the bed. Remember that article you read last week on Yahoo! about dust mites and dead skin, and how you should wash your sheets in hot water at least once a week?”
Oh, yeah…so I stripped the sheets off the bed, and decided to grab the rest of the laundry while I was at it.
The next thing I hear is, “You hungry? It’s about 11:30…there’s leftover pizza in the frig.”
Well, things went downhill from there. After the pizza, I folded clothes, vacuumed rugs, let the dogs out, let the dogs in, unloaded the dishwasher, and then practiced playing “Variations on the Theme from the Celebrated Canon in D” on my piano, which is something I generally don’t do unless I’m trying to avoid writing. That actually turned out to be my one saving grace, because the piano is in the same room as my computer. I eventually got up, took the two steps needed to reach my desk, and sat down. I adjusted my chair. I flexed my fingers. Then, after browsing Facebook, checking all my e-mail accounts, and surfing the net (which was how I learned all there was to know about dust mites), I opened up my word processor…and the only thing I could do was stare out the window (wow, can’t believe how big that tree’s grown!)…at the wall…at the shelf on said wall, piled up with all sorts of books about how to write…and, finally at the blank, desolate, unmoving (and unsympathetic) computer monitor. I waited for something—anything—to miraculously materialize, but, alas, no luck.
It suddenly occurs to me how ironic is it that someone like me—who has no trouble personifying globs of dust and dog hair—can’t seem to write about anything other than writing, or the lack thereof.
Apparently, if I ever want to write a novel, and I do, it’s going to have to be about writing…
This second challenge was, in my humble opinion (the same humble opinion that no one listens to anyway), a tad harder than the first. We were given five different prompts and tasked with doing one or all of the following:
I chose to write a piece of short fiction (under 200 words) on the following prompt:
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.
We were also given the opportunity to invite critiques from our fellow campaigners, which I am formally doing now. This is the first piece of short fiction I’ve written–at least for public consumption–which is just a not-so-subtle way of saying, be kind to me…I’m just a poor, lowly (and menopausal, therefore over-emotional and ultra-sensitive) blogger.
Oh, and honesty is very much appreciated, since I can use all the help I can get.
In the meantime, I’ll be cowering under the coffee table.
Jack dropped to the ground next to Dougie, his breath coming in quick, short bursts. His shirt clung to his back like a soggy blanket as he slithered out of his knapsack. His fair hair, normally neat and tidy, was wet and standing on end; he looked like a startled hedgehog.
“Well, I don’t think we were followed,” he said, sucking in air. He had doubled back in the dark after settling Dougie under the remains of the concrete bridge that used to link the island with the rest of civilization.
“How’s your leg?”
Dougie let out a low grunt as he shifted position against the rusted metal bridge support.
“Hurts like hell! One of Fowler’s goons got me. Where’d they come from anyway? I thought the area was supposed to be deserted!”
“It was. Somebody clearly knew we were coming.” He leaned over to inspect the ragged gash running up the length of Dougie’s calf. Good. Not too deep, then. Jack got to his feet.
“Can you walk?”
“Guess I’ll have to,” Dougie said. “Unless you can find me a taxi off this god-forsaken a-toll.”
Jack grinned, reaching down for Dougie’s arm. “I’ll see what I can do.”
I’m a Platform-Building Campaigner. What, you might ask, is that, and why is it such a big deal?
It’s a big deal because writing is, by its nature, a solitary pursuit. Unless you’re lucky enough to be a member of a writing team for someone like David Letterman, chances are you’re stuck by yourself, all alone, in an office or other converted space, pounding away on a computer or, what they used to call in the day, a “typewriter.”
It’s a big deal is because through this Campaign, I will become part of a growing community of writers, many of whom are in the same proverbial boat as me, i.e., a complete novice at this writing thing. I also won’t have to waste valuable time making all my own mistakes…I can make just a few, while learning from the mistakes others have made before me. It’s a good deal, especially since it’s extremely likely their mistakes aren’t nearly as fatal as mine usually are.
Like many (if not the majority) of writers out there, I’m not too keen on promoting my own work, or my own name, or my own brand (like I even know what a “brand” is). I’d like to believe that once someone reads what I write, they’ll graciously deign to tell all their friends, relatives, acquaintances, and co-workers what a great writer I am and boy they should really check out my blog because it will change their lives for the better…forever.
Who says I don’t have a fantasy life?
Anyway, that isn’t gonna happen (unfortunately), so I’ve got to take my destiny—and my reputation—into my own, feeble, inexperienced hands. Joining the Platform-Building Campaign will not only teach me what a “platform” is, it will, hopefully, go a long way towards improving my comfort level in blowing my own horn, and, just as importantly, the horns of all the other Campaigners out there.
Stay tuned…I’ll let you know how it’s going. In the meantime, click on the Shield at the left to see what I’m talking about.