Quick – don’t think of a rhinoceros!
Especially not, Gods forbid, a purple one.
Yeah, it’s trite. Also true. It’s hard.
So this is the task I’ve set myself. At least until next Sunday.
Of course it may seem strange to blog about it, since I’ve complained blogging is a lot like work. Since it involves. You know. Writing.
But it’s fiction writing I’ve committed not to think about for a whole week. And therein lies the problem.
It can be summed up simply: since I was a kid – certainly since I was in high school – I’ve thought about writing fiction almost every single day. The only exceptions I can call to mind were a very few when I was literally too sick to. Especially early last year, when for a time I basically couldn’t think at all.
What I’ve never – ever – done is deliberately try to refrain from writing. And, don’t you know, that’s one of the reasons I think it’s so important I do just that now.
As I announced to the world yesterday, with a Tyrannosaur Roar of joy and liberation that shook the entire state (allegedly), I just finished a writing project I’ve been writing at for just over eight and one-half years. I committed to it on my birthday, August 3rd, in 2002. And while this is, in the end, just a draft – it’s the draft I’m probably going to show to the world to sell the thing. So: kinda important.
And … I need a reset. A big, scary phase is about to commence: selling it – and making sure it, and I, don’t get short-changed. I am every scrap as committed to that as I was to writing (and then laboriously rewriting) the monster. Getting paid is a separate enterprise from making, and it’s an equally important skill. Whether we like it or not, it’s a fact, like the need to breathe air.
So I’m not thinking of that either. Not now.
The thing is … OK, what do I do with myself and this hyperactive head of mine? Yes, I’ve spent much of my 36-year career – way too much – contriving ways not to write. And only recently have I begun to make real substantial progress toward breaking that habit.
But avoiding the act of writing and avoiding thinking about writing are entirely different things.
So .. what do I do?
Well, there are maintenance tasks that I have, by choice, somewhat neglected the last few weeks. Since my holiday season has officially ended with the Superbowl, I can take down my Christmas decorations – although I find the colorful lights comforting, so, no hurry. The house needs a good cleaning, which thanks to my friends and various other circumstances I’m now able to do. I need a new tire for my car that does not require my surrendering in exchange a roughly analogous appendage from my own body. Plus … stuff.
Also, there’s walking. That’s suffered the last few weeks, although more due to persistent, minor health bugs, and our awful Arctic weather last week, than to preoccupation with my novel. Emma and I need to get out more, longer, and farther.
And … I need to do more stuff. Just in general. I need to practice freeing my perceptions and emotions from long self-imposed restrictions and just break out of routine. I’ve been chiseling away at these for weeks; now it’s time to hunt up a bigger hammer.
Plus some other things, like at last getting a new power source for my old but trusty desktop PC. Trying to use up some of the gift certificates friends have generously lavished on me before they expire (which prospect I find, candid, outright theft – but that’s for another time.) Learning, at long, last last, how to use my ultra-cool map-making software, Campaign Cartographer 3. Which, yes, I intend ultimately (and soon!) to use to create long-awaited maps for The Project of Which I May Neither Speak Nor Think (so you can quit whining any time now, Ian.) But I don’t have to think about it to learn to make freaking maps with the software.
One of the key lessons I need to learn (and for various reasons, which I expect I’ll elaborate on here in the fullness of time) is what I really want to do? What do I enjoy?
Well, other than writing – which I enjoy more than almost anything else I’ve ever done (use your imagination.) Important as that is to me, to belabor the blindingly obvious, it can’t and mustn’t be the whole of life.
So, that’s another thing to explore this week.
Right. Now to go and get a belated breakfast and start foraging around for that new tire.
Plus, you know. Living.