TOUCHSTONE is galloping alone, wrapping me up in it, so that even on days then I have other jobs to do, I get 2000 words in on it. Sometimes writing is like stumbling through a dark attic with a failing flashlight, hard on the shins and inspiring no confidence in the eventual outcome. Then the path ahead opens out and you see that it’s not an attic, it’s an open track, gently curving over easy hills, and someone’s even been so nice as to surface it for you. You break into an easy run and feel like you’re flying.
Of course, often the apparently easy path takes a jog sideways and you’re back in the attic again, cursing and stumbling through the accumulated crap and dust.
But the singleness of mind required to keep the path in focus has its drawbacks. Extensions are taken on filing taxes, debris accumulates first in corners, then on surfaces you need to use all the time. The other day I found I’d driven ten miles without fastening my seat belt, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before in my entire driving life.
Then there’s the peculiar brain things. At this stage I’m often plagued by ditties. Over and over again, a few bars of some really idiotic song moves into my brain and takes it over, as if it’s just got to have something to chew over during the hours I take its word-producing machinery away from it. Every time I wake up at night, the ditty is there. I peel carrots, the ditty visits; fold laundry, I’m clicking my teeth in time to it. At the moment, it’s a stupid country western song I’ve heard perhaps three times in my life about how you should life like you were dying, but it dropped out of the radio the other day (Note to self: never listen to the radio when a first draft is going this way. Or television.) and has moved into my distracted brain like that bug Ricardo Montalban drops into Checkov’s ear in the Star Trek movie, which still grosses my daughter out (Hi, sweetie.)
The only thing I can to is counteract it with another song–Sweet Betsy from Pike works well, something about the relentless beat–and finish the damn book. It’ll go away as soon as I am a multi-dimensional person again.
In the meantime, between March 13th and 18th, the excellent Lynn Viehl over at Paperback Writer discussed ten questions about the publishing business. Any of you interested in the nuts and bolts of being a writer should take a look. Or maybe print it out and pin it to the pocket of your shirt for regular reference.
Just don’t set it to music and send me the results, okay?