No Reason

I walked this morning too. Now I’m writing. Let’s see how this goes.

I haven’t even got poor Jamie out of the car yet. I haven’t brought up the murderously cold wind, the trudge across a tilled field, or the discovery in the barn.

Maybe that’s because I don’t know what’s in the barn or beyond the barn in any substantial way. I’m more like all those artists painting a small person facing a titanic valley or sprawling desert than I like to admit. Little me; big unknown.

Thus far I’ve imagined this as a portal fantasy. Jamie or Wendell back when there wasn’t a girlfriend in the story discovers her grandmother’s portal machine in a barn in France. Grandma is gone and somehow Jamie or Wendell deduce she went through the portal and needs saving. No reason to go get the cops. No reason to grab a bite to eat first, nab a first-aid kit, or a bottle of water. No reason to freak out for days wondering what happened or what to do–if anything at all. And no reason to think Grandma didn’t just step out to get a scone and neglected to leave a Post-it on the monitor.

Which means I need a myterious note, email, or communiqué. Ooo, or a dream or a feeling or a sense!

Whiff

My first crappy day I’d say. I walked this morning so there’s that and I wasn’t well prepared for the unexpected blurriness of the evening. If you normally do a thing in the morning, recalling you haven’t done it in the evening is troublesome.

The Last Ten Minutes

I’ve written but not yet(?) posted Friday and Saturday

And I most definitely wrote today. Just not here. I handcrafted brainy structured sentences for some evaluation effort I’m a part of at work. I’m going to let that cover me for the bulk of today, but I wanted to cleanse my palatte with something lighter.

…but then I accidentally surfed away the last ten minutes.

A quick review of yesterday’s work shows me that structurally I’m heading in an undesirable direction because I’ve not provided any reason for the reader to continue reading. I seem to be doing some character development in a flashback with an unpresent character instead of teasing the reader forward.

I have to get the snow off the glass and Jamie looking out across that snowy French field to Wendell’s grandmother’s workshop and dimensional portal towering over the countryside.

Shit. Just writing that outloud made me want to read more. Something to stew over night here I think.

Swipe

Two years ago yesterday I stopped writing on 1000 Days. During most of those twenty-four months I didn’t miss the effort, but I did frequently miss the output. I’m back to writing here and will be posting daily. Or I might be writing daily and posting regularly–no reason to expose you to everything this time.

I didn’t have a plan when I started 1000 Days–at least not a plan more sophisticated than writing for 1000 days. I don’t even have that much of a plan this time around. I think I’ll stretch my fingers on the keyboard a bit and see where I can take that.

Two interruptions later…

Jamie Shaver sat crossways on the passenger’s side of an old Peugot 205 with one foot in the empty driver’s seat, another on the gearbox, and her elbow hooked over her headrest. She watched feathers of snow melt on the back window. The heater kept ahead…for now. How much longer did Wendell expect her to wait?

She tucked her attention down into a tablet and swiped through the circle of pages. The home page went by three times. Should she clean up the photo and camera app page or go find her girlfriend?

Swipe.

A buffet of wind rocked the plain white car with a spatter of ice-grit.

Trying to Figure

thinking

I’m writing today. I’ll be writing tomorrow.

I’ve missed it and have been trying to figure out the best way to get back in it. I haven’t come up with a plan for writing at this stage. I’m just doing it.

In the past years of writing, I’ve gathered inspirational blurbs I’ve found on the Internet. Sometimes these were pictures, sometimes illustrations, sometimes definitions, and sometimes quotes. I didn’t stop collecting these blurbs during the time I took off from writing, so I’ve amassed a bit of a backlog of them. Well, I was always backlogged but now I’ve got an unaddressed surfeit. I don’t want to become like the kid at Halloween who hoards his stash for another day only to discover the allure of a Heath bar has staled from the wait.

However, I want to have purpose here. I want to adhere to as many of the suggestions I gave myself in my penultimate 1000 Days post. I don’t want to slip into the lazy habit of ‘just writing’. I’ve already developed that skill. I need to develop new ones, because what I’m doing now in the hour before work is more a disgrace to that hour than my worst writing ever was.

My purpose will be cumulative. Each month I’ll add a new wrinkle to the existing ones. Since I need time to figure out what those wrinkles will be I’m not going to outline anything here. What I will say is the first thing I need to do is to warm to this hour again. Right now, the best way for me to do that is to start privately journalling my family’s life. That started and stopped several years ago much like a beater with water in the gas line. Time for me to purge that line and get things rolling.

Picture courtesy of Creative Ignition.

997 Gates

gate

“Why not 1000?” That’s the title of the plaque here at gate twenty-seven.

Below the question, a paragraph explains why there are three less than a thousand gates. Apparently prime numbers were important—and known—to the pre-historic people who constructed these unusual rock towers. Below that, a second paragraph outlines a handful of other arguments: poor counting on the part of the builders, untimely conflict with neighboring peoples, lack of both human and material resources, or the ultimate decay of time. Maybe there were once a thousand. Maybe there never were. Or maybe there were never meant to be.

Along the bottom, a line of dots maps out the location of each gate across their two hundred kilometer route. In a wavering course running southwest to northeast with a single bend to the north, the dots trail across the plains over two rivers, a lake and into the mountains. An unknown number of finger touches has ghosted a spot near the beginning of that course.

“You are here,” John says.

He hefts a red Osprey Manta daypack from the ground and over his shoulders. Inside, he has three liters of water, a cheap REI rain jacket, a handful of Hammer gels, a Clif bar, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and one hundred thousand dollars neatly divided into five Zip-loc bags.

John twists his wrist to check the time. He has less than eight hours to get to gate three-hundred seven or they kill Laurie.

243 words on day 1000

Only A Fool Would Agree

fool

I’m almost afraid to tackle this one. Maybe I should do the math today instead of tomorrow to avoid the pressure.

I began 1000 days of daily writing on August 13th 2007. That was 1750 days ago. My original goal date was May 9th, 2010. I am almost two years late, but I am done. It’s hard to know how proud to be of this particular ending. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and satisfied in many ways. I just can’t help but wonder what might have come out of 1750 days of consecutive writing instead of my near every-other-day reality.

I suspect it may not have been that much better. That’s not sour grapes. I think despite the later than expected completion I’ve put in about as much effort as I could have along the way. When I started I had three kids under four; I now have four kids over four. I also have one less dog, two more dogs and one more cat. I picked the eight o’clock hour to write which became school drive time and the oldest dog’s favorite time to eat and poop. I can’t blame him; developed similar habits. I started in one office alone and ended in an entirely different office which I share. These aren’t anywhere near as bad as being stricken with cancer or losing a limb, but they were niggling enough that they took a toll.

I took some breaks. I forgot occasionally. And sometimes I said, “Fuck it.” Those are the only days I regret.

There are more than a few standout efforts I like. Hartwhile, Shanty, Benhá, Grumphook, Malachi, Pixies, Terminus, Crainewood, and Bringer come to mind for threads. (There would be more if I looked.) Fanboy, dialogue pairs, 20 minutes, and 10 plots for craft.

I’m glad I took the time to play a bit with the second person. I’m glad I found some comfort in if not much success from learning about structures. I’m glad I played with maquettes. I’m glad I’ve developed a repository of pictures to inspire me. I’m glad I can use a picture to write something new I never planned to write thirty seconds before I saw it. I’m glad I could come back from breaks. I’m glad I practiced planning ahead for known outages. I’m glad I made one submission.

I wish I had learned to write for sixty whole minutes. I wish I had learned to stick with something longer than I did. I wish I had submitted more. I wish I had tried harder with first person. I wish the same of present tense. I wish I had developed a following. I wish I had written more non-fictionally. I wish I had found a thousand words a day rhythm. I wish I’d learned to be better at editing.

What happens now?

I don’t know. I’ve actively avoided thinking about the answer to that obvious question. Pointless question.

I don’t expect to stop writing, but I don’t know how I can continue in the haphazard manner I’ve been carrying on these past years. I want to do more, but I want to do much differently than I have been. I want to account for plotting time, planning time, research and thinking. I want to do something which values that kind of effort in the pursuit of a goal. I want to take a break. I don’t want to feel guilty for not creating. I want to feel compelled to write each time I do.

If I had to be concrete. If I had to start something new and different and the same on Tuesday the 1001th, I’d say that I now write at night. That I have one or two threads I can alternate between. I’d say that my week has a rhythm; not my days. I’d say there were monthly and/or quarterly goals. I’d say I bring in a partner of sorts—someone to regularly discuss my work with. A manager. I’d say there would be a checklist.

Shit.

That sounds much harder than 1000 days. That doesn’t sound like a break. That sounds like something only a fool would agree to.

Photo courtesy of boxlace.

690 words on day 999