Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hello Old Friend

Hello, old friend. I have been absent for too long. During the month of November, I worked on my novel almost every day. Writing was what I did around the edges of my full, busy life. I added 20,000 words to the manuscript. I brought it to the point where I could finally say that I had a first draft. (Which is not to say that there is a clear demarcation point. There still are holes in it that need to be filled. And I edited and revised as I wrote it, rather than leaving all that for the second draft.)

Then December arrived. NaNoWriMo ended, and I lifted my head from the screen. I realized that Christmas was almost upon us, and I had done nothing to prepare. My loved ones were grumpy from having been ignored for a month. My son was in danger of failing math. The pets had developed new bad habits. All the deferred household tasks had reached the point of being overwhelming. Work was crazy (annual planning and budget time!). I had a big knot in my right upper back from hunching over the computer all day at work, and then coming home to sit at the computer again, writing. My neck made a clicking sound when I looked to the right; in fact it still does.

So, on December 3, I set the novel aside. I struggled to catch up with my responsibilities and my relationships. We celebrated Christmas and spent time with our families and friends. We skied. I didn't write.

Once I stop writing, I find it hard to start again. Everything seems to stand in the way of opening the document and getting back at it. I don't have enough time right now. I need to put another load of laundry in first, or run downtown, or take a look at the local paper. It's easier to surf the net, or spend time on forums or social networking sites.

But today I sat down to my novel again. There it was, my old friend. My characters, were still there, puzzling through their lives, inventing new opinions and troubles while I was absent. I revised a little. I added a little. It was like coming home.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Living in a Full-Colour World

In reading over my post from the other day, I can see that I sounded downright gloomy. Grey, in fact. I'd like to state right now that glum and miserable is not my usual habit of mind. More typically, I am a person who is thrilled by the experiences, sensory richness, and social engagements of daily life. And I like colour (even the muted colours of November).

This photo above is one that I took while walking in a field near my home during October. It is a beautiful field for taking a walk, whether snowy, soggy in the springtime with the impossible bright green of the first new growth, lush with lupins and buzzing bees, or red and yellow under autumn's crisp air. I especially love the autumn colours.

The seasons can also be enjoyed from within the coziness of one's house. This fall, I took a series of photos that I call "Views from my Window." The one below is one that I like. If you look closely, you can see a small reflection in the window. I wanted to capture the reflection because, after all, I wasn't out there; I was inside looking out.

I am lucky to live in such a wonderful place, surrounded by landscape views like this on a daily basis.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Work is the new grey

On Monday, I did not want to go to work. I really did not want to go. I slept late; I dragged out the morning preparations. The Christmas break had sped by in a twinkling. Our cherished children had visited and left again. We had feasted, drunk wine, skied along ridges, played with the dogs. Now Monday loomed bleak and ugly, the start of a new week, a new year, a new decade of work, work, working. Grey. Damp cold that gets in your bones. Inescapable.

I put one foot in front of the other, drove to work, unlocked the office, let myself take it slowly. I watered the plants, dry after ten days of my absence. I greeted colleagues and inquired about their holidays, my voice faint and echoing as if coming from the bottom of a giant tin can. My hands flapped like squid, and my feet dragged along the carpet like disobedient pets. I clasped my hands in front of my belly, wrung my fingers, crossed my legs. I hardly seemed to be in my body, but gazed on its awkward postures with annoyance from outside.

The litany wrote itself inside my brain: overdue unfinished tasks, too much, more work flooding in, trapped, don't show it. I organized my desk, deleted email, and started with some easy tasks. Plod, plod, plod. Made it through the day.

Tuesday, inside a cold grey metal can. Bent under my burden, a basket of boulders. Wednesday, a reprieve. A caring boss talked me through an impossible task, offered help, extended a deadline. His voice was as warm as a mug of hot chocolate.

Thursday, freezing rain coated my car like molten glass. In windy gusts, pins of rain flew at my eyes. Tires left slush puddle ruts. A medical test, finally after months of worry, ruled out the feared possibility. And now there was a yellow glow around me and my flesh was warm and vital. Back at the office, I chatted with staff, made decisions, and completed tasks, each neatly clipped and filed.

Friday, I'm back. Back at work, my usual efficient self. Back at home with a laugh and a hug. The year is full of possibilities.