Thursday, August 23, 2007

Trusting the Process

The final chunk. Almost seventy pages. I stare at the freshly printed hard-copy before me, feeling like a miniature meat-processing plant: feed, grow, produce, harvest, slice, dice, package, market. From cow to Oscar Mayer weenies. Is a book really any different?

Coffee in my left hand, blue gel fine point in my right, I start at the top. In an hour, I read through the entire shebang. Cobalt ink underlines every other word, notes scrawl in the margins: awk*, XX**, awf***, chu****. My mood matches the color of my manuscript.

Panic blooms, granules of yeast in warm, sugary water. My pulse pounds – boom, boom, boom – my internal grandfather clock reminding me of my self-imposed deadline. A month. Just a month. I can’t do it, can’t finish, there’s too much to explicate and extricate and excise and revise and devise… the voices are wrong, the rhetoric weak, the writing... well, the writing’s the least of my worries.

I rise from the kitchen table, nuke my now tepid coffee, and shove four caramel Hershey kisses into my mouth without tasting them. The micro bleats once, then twice, and I tear myself from the bowl of chocolates. Deep breath. My laptop mocks me, but I pull up the document, begin to edit. My brain seizes. A voice whispers in my ear. “This story sucks. You suck.” The little demon who sits on my right shoulder leers at me, then laughs an eerie cackle

And I believe him (of course it’s a him).

So I walk away and walk around in a murky funk. I snap at my children, my husband, the stupid drivers, the stupider pedestrians. I am despicable. I am the Ugly Writer. But after almost 48 hours of doing nothing but wandering in a sleepless, irritable haze, my mood begins to lift.

I return to the merciless document, and begin. The writing flows. To my surprise, my insomniacal angst has miraculously spawned new scenes, better-behaved characters, pithy and compelling dialogue, even decent prose. Optimism stirs. I plow through the first chapter. The fiend stretches, yawns. “Yeah, yeah, you can do it.” I can do it. And I have done it before. Three weeks ago. Duh. Deja vu. Maybe I should trust my mind? Myself?

*awk = Awkward
**XX = Add something, anything – this hole’s as wide as the damn Mississippi
***awf = Awful. AWFUL!!!!!
****Chu = Chuck. As in chuck it in the can, the toilet, the ocean, the gas grill

This just in from Neuroscience: Dirt is better than Prozac. Yep. Ingestion of Mycobacterium vaccae, which exists naturally in soil, produces serotonin - and bliss - in mice.

Guess I’ll go snort some dirt... Peace, Linda

Mouse Brain on Dirt


  1. sigh...I love that. Dirt is better than Prozac. Wonder if that's why I ate all those mud pies as a wee one??? hmmm

    I give you credit for 1. sticking to a deadline 2. and revising.

    Lately, I've been feeling so argh!(it's isukitis, I'm positive) I can't even write. Can't even open the files on my computer. :(

  2. Editing, revising, and rewriting is tantamount to doing surgery one one's own body. While still awake. Props to you for your caffeinated, chocolate induced, dirt laden supported efforts.

    As Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, "easy reading is damn hard writing." Now if only I could get the urge to write something longer than a comment on a blog, I might be able to share in your efforts.

  3. Surgery indeed. Painful, too. Need something a wee bit stronger than chocolate and caffeine; perhaps a morphine drip? A little soil mixed in?

    Twiz, isukitis - your demon has a name. Tell him to take a nap.

    Sarah baby, you pushed your baby out into the world - you deserve not to write more than a blog comment. Plus, you did that spiffy book tour - you must be exhausted. But... I will start to nag you soon.

    Thanks for dropping by. Peace, Linda