Friday, August 03, 2012

LIsten to your body--or your muse?

A lot of writers will tell you the way to write a novel is simply to plant your butt in the chair and write. I remember once being awed to meet J. A. Jance, one of my personal heroines at the time, and when I said I was trying to write mysteries, she said dismissively, "We all know how you do that. You plant your bottom in the chair and write." At the time I was offended by her abrupt, uncaring manner because we didn't all know--I could sit in a chair all day and have no idea what I was doing. I thought if I had her success and met a wannabe, I'd be more encouraging, probe a little about interests, etc. I later heard however that she was in the midst of a family crisis far away--and she was in my city because of a commitment to speak that evening. She carried the evening off with panache and you'd have never known that someone she cared about was dying.
But I kept that  line in my mind. It's not an unusual or particularly original piece of advice. Some writers set daily goals--hours at the computer, number of pages or scenes or words written. I can't do that because my schedule varies wildly. But so, I find, does my muse. When do you keep your butt in the chair and when do you simply walk away?
This morning, my house was a zoo. Jacob and I went out early to his house to feed Fishy, water the plants, look for his favorite sleeping shirt (he couldn't find it) and get his bike-riding helmet (it was in the locked garage). When we came home, Socorro was cleaning, Greg was mowing, and the serviceman from I&E was working on the sprinkler system. Jacob said, "There are a lot of people at your house, Juju," and I was tempted to tell him it takes a village to keep my house running. His grandfather came to pick him up, amid much excitement on Jacob's part--a trip to Legoland, a water park adventure, and a movie. Jacob told me they were taking him to see a movie with lots of violence, and I said I doubted his other grandmother would tolerate that. "Just kidding," he said. "We're going to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
Greg finished the yard, Socorro finished the house, and everyone was gone. I fixed lunch and settled down to write. Some really constructive time. I did write 900 words, a scene that I had planned out. I knew where it was going from there, but  I'm not sure if it was my body or my brain or both that didn't want to work. Each word was painful, and I quit. Be it physical or mental, the muse wasn't there. Took a good two-hour nap, fixed a light summer supper--cold salmon platter with avocado, deviled eggs, cherry tomatoes, cucumber--for a friend and had a lazy evening visiting. She's someone who also lives alone, is as devoted to her cats as I am to my dogs.  We have great conversations, and I feel I'm lucky to have found another new but good friend in recent years.
The news on the dog front is good. Scooby has suddenly turned a corner. Greg said he ran to him this morning, and at noon he went up the steps himself--his back legs don't quite make it, and he needs help. I have given up the towel/sling because it seems to hinder more than it helps. Yes, he still falls but not nearly as often--and he's not as nervous and anxious about it. I am encouraged for the first time in almost two weeks.
Life is good, and I remind myself daily to be grateful.

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