Jul 2, 2012 - How-To    Comments Off on Writing the Heat Wave

Writing the Heat Wave

It’s hot. Really, really hot. And Leigh and I have been discussing why, when there really is nothing else to do but stay inside during the mid-day hours, all we want to do is sleep or gripe about how hot it is. Here are all these lovely hours when I could be writing something new, revising something old, creating a poem or simply writing in my journal (not to mention working in the office). And yet, I sulk around and nap and wait for something “good” to happen; something that will spur me into action and force me to do the work that waits so patiently in the vacuum behind my darkened computer screen.

So, here I am writing you, my faithful readers, because that is what I do. Inspiring you inspires me. Now all I have to do is think of a way to do that. Here is a list of what I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks while the temps were in the triple digits and the sky refuses to rain and wash some relief over all of us:

1) Went fishing. I know this doesn’t sound appealing to all of you, but really, what is writing but a sort of “go fish” game of chance. We hone our craft, just as we do our skill at casting or fly fishing. We must know the correct lure, fly, bait (phrase, word or metaphor) to use. There’s that sweet time floating in the boat on a lake all alone, the breeze whispering and the early morning shadows long. It’s a good time to get a little day-dreaming done. There is also the work; putting the boat in and taking it out again. Attempting to stay in the productive spot while the wind threatens to blow you to Mexico. Cleaning the fish and preparing them for the big fry later. Ah, how like writing it all is. I want to be in that productive place. I want to be editing and cleaning up that piece I need to submit by the middle of the month. Instead, I’m living the metaphor instead of writing it.

2) Read books. This is tricky territory because reading is essential to good writing. But reading what a I call candy books–you know what I mean–cheap mysteries, horror novels and romances (if you’re into that sort of thing), books that are nothing more than a page turners/time burners can be a great waste of time. This is why I’m not allowed to read these things during the morning hours. I allow myself anything I want to fall asleep reading at night, but mornings are for inspiration and practicing craft. Unless I go fishing, of course.

3) Work in the garden and water all the drying up trees and flowers. This is depressing work, but must be done. We do get to harvest because in the garden, we have an irrigation system hooked to a well (thanks to Leigh) and some things are not being cooked by the sun. So we pick and weed and put up produce. Now this is all good, but again, I’m not doing the metaphorical equivalent in my writing. I have an entire cabinet of work that needs to be weeded, pruned, and watered so it can grow into something worth reading.

4) Visiting with family and friends. I will not apologize even to myself for this one; especially since I have alone time so seldom with some of these sweet characters. Call it character development. How can I write about relationships and relating if I don’t do some. I’m not saying I’m much of a hermit to begin with, but I need to see the world the way someone who has lived their life differently than me sees it. Or else my characters are one-dimensional. Can’t have that.

5) Going to museums and admiring others’ artwork. I am looking to be inspired. Since I can’t find anything wrong with this, we’ll just move on.

6) Sitting in the cowboy tank trying to cool off and taking naps. Really, it’s hard to find fault with those two things either, unless they take up the majority of your day and then you stay up late watching movies from Netflix, which I can do for a really, really long time. I could say that I am studying for my next screenplay (something I’d really like to write) or serial, like True Blood or Justified, but that would be a lie and I’ve promised I wouldn’t tell any in my blog posts. It’s a good idea, but I get too caught up in the story to pay that writerly kind of attention. This requires watching it a second time.

There you have it, and I bet I’m not the only one procrastinating my way through these incredibly hot summer days. I even missed posting last week–and that is really a no-no. But there you go, we’re all human and we sometimes do let things like the heat and the drought, or the storms, or the world news get to us. Still, here I am, typing this slightly inane post to you to let you know you aren’t alone. We are not bad people. We aren’t even lazy people. We just wilt sometimes. Find the source of your water, and set your feet in it. Take a vacation and call it that and then it won’t be procrastination. You don’t have to go anywhere. Then pick up your pen, find a prompt, and write something. Anything will do until you find yourself leaning into it like a sunflower leans into the sun. Take some time off without berating yourself, and then…well, then get back to work because writing is the best job in the world.


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