Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bee Humble

I’ve been sequestered in my house for the past couple of months, determined to finish a collection of stories I’ve been working on for, well, probably a couple of years now. Or more. Who knows. I’ve been writing them off and on (more off than on), and was relying on inspiration rather than a strict schedule or preplanned outline. They are stories based on a simple premise—that archetypal human stories can present in unexpected ways. Maybe the “Boy Meets Girl,” story refers to two girls, or maybe the boy is already married to someone else. Stuff like that. The stories quickly began to shape themselves around three families and their circles. Then it turned out that so-and-so in story two actually knew the girl in story six, and so that became a thing, the interrelatedness. And at some point, maybe when I had ten or eleven of these pieces, I realized there needed to be some direction, some aim (didn’t there?), so I began to map out where I’d take it, just a few stories at a time. Still waiting for inspiration, for a scene to occur to me, some vivid moment from the life of anyone in the cast, past or present—didn’t matter.
Life intervenes, doesn’t it? Even though I began writing these stories to escape the pressures of writing a novel, the process started to take on the same flavor. I decided enough was enough, I needed to get the thing done, inspiration or not. So that’s where I’ve been for a couple of months and yesterday, I finished the first draft. I emphasize: first draft, because some of these latter stories felt forced and I worry that I began to take them on a novel-like progression that was not my original intention. I’ll be very interested to pick it up in a month or so and see if it’s cohesive or whether it’s happily not.

So I was feeling quite proud of myself yesterday, patting myself on the back for those shower-less days, the declined social invitations, the ignored temptations. Yes, maybe there had been setbacks, like being a half-hour late to pick up a certain someone at his soccer practice (who then said: I figured you were working on your book). I couldn’t read anything lengthy and towards the end, I wasn’t sleeping well. But I did it! The world stretched out before me, a new leaf. So many projects to be tackled now, so much to do. I decided to take the dogs on an extra long walk. They had spent many long hours with me while I toiled, never complaining. I put on their harnesses and hooked them to the double-lead leash.

Anyone who’s ever seen me walking these dogs knows the reason why there are harnesses. The dogs do not walk, they jog, and they do not wait for me. The effect is something like being hooked to a dog sled. So we’re walking (briskly) through the neighborhood towards our little lake. I take an unusual turn because someone has their huge German Shepherd at the lake and in general, I avoid contact with other dogs. Because, uh, my dogs will bark and lunge. They are in most respects, entirely naughty. We are just turning around a corner onto a busier street when I notice, suddenly, they we have stumbled into a swarm of bees. Long story shorter: me running, full speed, for two blocks, with bees following. Stop once to try and dislodge two bees from one dog’s hindquarter. Some screaming (mine), more running, until I’m completely out of breath and there are no more bees in my hair or the dogs’ fur. I actually ran into a friend shortly thereafter who, thankfully, had headphones on during her jog and did not hear or see my manic run.

The point, hammered home: you should never be too proud of yourself, or nature will conspire to teach you humility. Best to get back to work on something new. But maybe first I’ll take just one little day off and do something indoors.

1 comment:

  1. I know this one. The little Gremlin (social conscience) manifesting on a writer's shoulder (it favours women writers,) chastising them for the sheer pleasure of doing their passion :)


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka