I know the way

I did it. I holed up in a cabin for four days all by myself and did nothing but write. I doubt that I even thought about anything else besides my story and, every 6 or 7 hours, food. That’s the beauty of retreating, hiding from life.

I wonder what my life would be like if I only wrote. On day 1.5 I heard a voice and realized it was me, talking to myself. Mumbling, narrating, out loud. On day 2.25 I shook that off and became completely silent, monk-like. Only my characters spoke. And danced. And coupled. And argued. And learned from each other by weaving together the threads of their made-up lives. They thrived on my silence.

My mind was quiet and emptied of all normal life. No one asked me to do anything or made any demands on my time. I didn’t have to cook (though I baked some homemade bread). I didn’t have to clean (though I rinsed the dishes to deter the parade of ants). I didn’t have to go to work (though I argue that writing, currently noted as ‘Laura’s hobby,’ is hard work). I didn’t have to find a quiet place to write (the only noise was rain on the roof alternating with birdsong). It was all surreal.

I did bathe. Once.

I did eat. Twice each 24 hour block.

I did sleep. Remarkably well but not on any typical schedule.

The scientist in me demands a report of the data. Here’s the breakdown:

In 3.5 days, I wrote for 32.5 hours.

In 32.5 hours, I revised 248 pages, adding 5500 words.

Those 5500 words were a net increase that included deletion of 1500 words.

Following this fourth full revision, INFINITY LINE now rests at 73,500 words.

I also wrote a query letter and a synopsis. That’s amazing, I say, and thanks entirely to the blank canvas of my retreated mind.

Today is Friday the 13th which means I have earned my Big Mac. I ate it on the way home. I have special sauce on my special white shorts.

Now I’m back in the real world and it still just looks the same, smells the same, sounds the same. Trees, lake, flowers, deer, Mike, butter, coffee, Windex, cake, Buffalo sauce, college world series, golf, HGTV, Elton. Yet there’s a new dimension, a place where I can go because I know the way. I can get deep down into my mind if I just imagine my cabin in the woods, my unwashed hair and make-up free face, my sore shoulders hunched up from typing faster than my fingers can find the keys, the sore twin dents by my nose from hours of wearing these glasses, my sore neck from tilting back to read through the bottom of the progressive lenses, my tired, tired, tired eyes. I can get back there. I know the way.

 

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a puzzle from my brain to yours

a puzzle from my brain to yours

A few snippets from the last week congealed in my head and resulted in this puzzling post.

a. My very literal and brilliant grandson learned what it means to “write a letter to someone.” As usual, we don’t know about misconceptions until they are voiced. He told his mom he was going to write a letter to his dad. He was going to write the letter P.

(Take a moment to have a little chuckle and then calm down and proceed.)

b. Although Hardee’s is spending the big bucks on advertising and they are managing some pretty funny commercials, poor Mr. Sign Guy can’t get a raise. He got his revenge this week with his own brand of advertising: their sign reports that they are now serving CHEESBURGERS! I know in past posts (like here, and here) I proposed that Mr. Sign Guy had a holey pocket and was dropping decimals. But now I think he is just withholding them, along with the missing E, in a brilliant plot to bring down his employer. Hardee’s surely lost my 8 bucks on Thursday when I passed them by–if they can’t spell, they can’t cook, period.

c. At the Little Cricket, Mr. Sign Guy is more subtle. Check out this sign.

RSCN5101RSCN5090

Do you see it? The guy brought out all the correct letters and then intentionally switched two of them on the front and on the back of the sign!

By now, you are no doubt scratching your head and thinking, “WTH?” And if you are, you are already thinking in red letters and are ready, so get set, and GO!

THE PUZZLE
I love to read which means I love sentences so I love words–therefore I must also curtsy to letters. Add a sprinkle of my warped brain energy to get today’s puzzle. Use the Little Cricket sign as a clue about what catalyzed my little skip down this brain path. Don’t scroll down too far because I’ll give what I think is a giant visual clue at the bottom.

1. What do these words have in common?

AHIM etc red letters

2. What do these words have in common?

blue jpeg

3. What do these words have in common?

green jpeg

4. What do these letters have in common?

purple jpeg

.

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This is supposed to be the giant clue:

all the letters jpeg

When you figure it out, leave your answer in the comments and I’ll check in later.

Too much time

My productivity plummets when time has a family reunion. When he brings in reinforcements, I feel the ripple of a time warp.

When my personal TO DO list must be composed with Sharpie on an infinity of toilet paper and trails behind me, stuck to my shoe, annoying me wherever I go, I chop away at it relentlessly, day and night, just to be rid of it.

But when t i m e expands, like it did this week with three snow days and a power outage, I had time on my hands and in my lap and wrapped around my shoulders. I knocked a bunch of major items off my list, but slowly, and now I look at the meager rest of my list and smirk. You can’t hurt me. I’ve got this.

And I ignore it.

All day yesterday, I acted like a normal person on a weekend, instead of my normal mode of human-with-more-than-one-job-on-a-treadmill-that-will-swallow-me-whole-if-I-don’t-keep-moving. I went out to lunch with Mike. I read under a blanket on the couch. I watched multiple uninterrupted hours of the Olympics, yelling at the skeleton dude who fell off his perch and skating alongside the blondie ponytail and her toothless dad. I ate three meals, all different, all with a beverage, all with a napkin, all with time nodding approval at my side.

I’m just a teeny bit afraid of time’s evil cousin, Monday, who will likely pummel me senseless very soon. But in the hug of the cushion of time called Sunday, I remain bubble-wrapped and smug.

You may say I’m a dreamer

Sometimes after a bad day, I find peace by listening to music and resting in the lyrics of hopeful artists. Here are two that are buoying me up today.

“I’d like to teach the world to sing
in perfect harmony.
I’d like to hold it in my arms
and keep it company.” –Lea Salonga

“Imagine all the people
living life in peace…
…You may say I’m a dreamer
but I’m not the only one…” –John Lennon

Happy weird holiday, World.
(Enjoy that Coke.)

Lost in my head again

I am so deep in my summertime daily writing fog that I am unable to have a normal conversation. This happened last summer when I was in the throes of Sludge. It’s back.

I am sometimes capable of discussing the weather but that’s only because my desk is adjacent to a big window which faces east. And once or twice each day, I look up from my screen and keyboard and think, “Hmmm, it’s not night yet,” or “That looks like a bird.” If a storm rolls in from the west, I’m surprised and lost.

Some days after I run and shower I write until dinnertime without coming up for air. Time flies by in the same way it does on a cold winter weekend when I hide under the covers with a cup of hot tea and a good book to read. Writing takes me on the same type of mind journey as reading; both stop time.

I would talk about my characters but I do know they aren’t real people. Talking about them would be akin to telling someone about my Aunt Mabel’s hairdresser’s bunions–a waste of time because it wouldn’t be interesting to the listener.

(I am very conscious of pre-screening what I say so as not to bore my listener. This is an introverted trait which limits my daily word quota but one I often wish more folks exercised. We can call this conversation conservation. I like word pairs with two switched letters, don’t you?)

I’m aware that my characters were hatched  in the dark wrinkles of my little head and only exist there and in a file on my laptop. But I hope, hope, hope that someday they’ll exist for others on the pages of a real live book.

I try not to let them pop into my conversation and out of my mouth by saying ridiculous things like “Alex met his eightieth offspring today.”

Or “Claudia finally burned down the sex cubes.”

Or “Izzy was Chosen.”

I try not to say such things out loud to normal people non-writers because out of context (aka out of my book) I recognize that these are bizarre characters and situations. (Actually in my book they are also bizarre.)

So I’ll stay here alone in my head for the next week or two, until I get to that place called the end. It’s close. I can feel it. Then I’ll emerge from the fog in my writing cave and rejoin the real world. For a while.