Archive for November, 2011

On travel and clarity

It was a really lovely, really wonderful trip. London and Berlin were wonderful, beautiful, interesting, just splendid, really, and of course I went to many interesting places, ate lovely and delicious things and had myself a great time. But what is most marvelous about a voyage, for me, is the voyage-ness of it. Being solitary and independent in a new place. Juxtapositions of what you know against something new. Being strangely delighted by things like the names of new dishes or the strangely-named medicines in drugstores. Breathing new air, seeing new light. And of course, all of that in an atmosphere of freedom and relaxation. (Well, those are theoretical and relative…freedom is costly, judging from the cost of airfare and transport, and sometimes there is nothing much relaxing about trying to make it to your gate in Heathrow.)

This was the first vacation in a very long while where I didn’t let myself work. Not on anything: no job, no novel, no writing, nothing related to a keyboard or screen. I made sure to bring no laptop, no phone, no iPad, just an old-fashioned paper journal and pen. The only “connected” device I had was my iPod Touch, which was at the mercy of whatever wi-fi connection was available and accessible. I did feel strange twinges of feeling cut off, at first. But something else happened to replace it: I started to feel much more connected to the world, much more present in the moment. I even stopped taking pictures as much because I wanted to remain in this lovely river of awareness I found myself in. It was like a veil that I hadn’t been aware of was lifted, this layer of mental congestion, and I saw the world much more clearly and cleanly, floating along contentedly as moments led to moments, and hours passed without care or agenda. And it was just more fun, too, to have to wander places, ask questions of people because you were turned around and confused by all the winding alleyways, and wander some more because, Oh well, so you can’t find the place you were looking for, but here is a nice pub, why not pop in for a pint?…. Adventures great and small were to be had, and even when things went awry, it was a real pleasure.

Feeling relaxed yet engaged, alone but not lonely, lightly in touch with your self and the world around you, drinking all the Lindemans I could desire, having conversations with dear friends and the most dashing people you’ve met in ages…what more could I want from a vacation, other than for it to be longer?

So far

The full moon hides its face behind the clouds

Nothing more beautiful than being in the presence of true mystery and magic.

Look, the first day of snow in 2011.

Breathing room & new endeavors

I am, I realized, insane.

But I had to admit, the siren call of Nanowrimo was too irresistible. I had told myself last month that if I wrapped up the last revision of my novel, I’d give myself November off from it and start on my next book, using Nanowrimo as a semi-sanctioned cultural excuse to write a large amount of (mostly crappy) words in a short period of time.

Of course, I didn’t think this would happen, because I thought I wouldn’t be done. I had been struggling for some time, you see, chipping away at this current revision, again and again fitzing and cutting and re-writing and chopping and adding. I had gotten used to struggling and feeling discouraged, I guess. I honestly had the thought that I would be one of those supremely frustrated writers who just never are able to get past that one spot in their books, and that I would go to hell faced with these chapters and never be able to get them right, my evil laptop ridiculing me for how utterly ridiculous my attempts were and broadcasting all of them out into the Internet for my ex-boyfriends to laugh at. (That is my version of writer’s hell.)

And then, something magical happened. Some beautiful, gorgeous goddess of words and writing bestowed upon me a remarkable solution that somehow sliced through my difficulties*, and somehow I got to the end of my book. I was just sitting there in Barnes & Noble, looking at this really cute guy in the cafe and tooling away at my document. Maybe I was so distracted by Foxy Coffee Dude that I wasn’t paying attention, because suddenly I realized, Wow, there’s nothing left for me to do. Every item on my To-Do to Fix My Book list had been done.

I looked up in a kind of daze, staring at those weird author portraits they hang up there, godlike, in the store’s cafes. I remember I was directly opposite Langston Hughes, which is a strange author god to have looking down on you as you finish a book about teenage skater werewolves. (“What Would Langston Think?”) I remember I just shut my computer off and didn’t know what to do with myself for a moment. So I read a discarded Us Weekly the next table over, because isn’t that what real people do with their time instead of spending so much of it in their heads with imaginary people?

The next day was Halloween, and I ate lots of candy and wore angel wings with great abandon.

And then the next day, it was November 1. I still didn’t know if I would do Nanowrimo. I thought initially I’d give myself all of November off. You know, sleep, relax, gad about Europe a bit, not put a lot of pressure on myself to keep accomplishing stuff. I have been working on this current book for a long time, revising for nearly a year. Wasn’t I just depleted? What more did I really have to give? I had a few loose ideas for the next book kicking around, ones that had been marinating there in the old brain for some time. But nothing really fully thought-out, considered. Nah, I said to myself. No need to do it.

I did my job that day, I went to the gym. I think I talked to one of my beloveds on the phone for awhile. Then I went to check my email, and opened up my Google Docs, where I had a backup of my current revision going. I thought I was just going to upload the latest version to my account. But suddenly I thought, what the heck. I opened up a new doc and started writing. I kept writing day after day, some days harder than others, but when those came I was too excited by things to be much discouraged, chalking it up to the usual ebb and flow of emotions you have when you write a lot. And now it is the 11th and I’m happily halfway through.

Of course, tomorrow I get to fly over an ocean to another continent, and I’m not bringing my computer because I am so sick of being on my laptop all the time. So no doubt I will likely “fail” at Nanowrimo. But you know, failure is educational and failure can keep you honest. And I’m excited for my next story and am excited to see what I discover about my character, about writing, about myself.

xo k.


* This technique is called “delete.” As in, if it’s not working, just delete! It only really works if you are an over-writer, like me.