I haven’t been writing anything, anywhere. And it isn’t because I’m not motivated, I tell myself, smirking as I think it each time I see my notebooks stacked just to the left of my keyboard. It’s the photos of our recent trip I’ve been working through, trying to learn new Photoshop techniques to make them stand out in some way, worthy of what I remember seeing when my eye wasn’t peering through the viewfinder of my camera.
Yesterday was my 58th birthday.
I have never been someone who could not wait until her birthday arrived, thinking its timing coinciding with Back to School made it convenient to ignore. The worry of wearing scratchy, too warm clothes the first day of school coupled with concerns about whether I’d like my teacher(s), and outright paranoia about the moment that teacher called out my name in class during attendance always seemed to take precedence over celebrating the day I was born. When I think back over the years, unsurprisingly, not many of my birthdays stand out. Other than the good memories that remain of a few adolescent slumber parties, I remember my 20th because it seemed a milestone to no longer have teen attached to my age. My 40th stands out because in defiance of the impending school year, I told my husband I wanted to go to Las Vegas. The significance of this is probably lost on anyone who hasn’t taught school and can’t imagine the potential terror of going away for three days just before school begins, minus lesson plan books and teaching resources, to relax and have fun. It remains one of my best memories because it was a spontaneous decision. My 50th will always be remembered because my husband and very best friend organized a lovely dinner party for me at her home. Family and friends attended, waiters passed with trays of tasty tidbits, and dinner was enjoyed outside under a late August evening sky.
The single bark that has wakened me at 3 am five mornings in the last week sounded again this morning. I never hesitate when I hear it and roll from bed, feel around in the dark for my sweater and pull it over my head just before heading down the stairs, feeling my way against the wall as I go. I say nothing as I open the door of Wanda’s crate and hear her snuffling behind me as I head out to the chilly patio so she can take care of her business. The night is quiet. Stars glimmer in their places in a clear sky. Even in winter, I can hear crickets in the distance. I will admit I enjoy this aspect of a routine I want to keep from going any farther. Getting up this early is not something I want to look forward to on a regular basis.
Last year as response to a request from a friend, I committed myself to 30 days of writing my first novel during National November Writing Month, lovingly referred to as NaNoWriMo. Fifty-thousand words written in 30 days qualifies anyone as a winner and outside of being diligent enough to actually write those words, the resulting manuscript file must also be uploaded to qualify your effort.
Check to all of the above and I was a certified winner last year. I wrote my 50,000+ words with only a few hitches in my giddy up: we visited our son in San Francisco for Thanksgiving and were stuck there for two additional nights due to heavy fog up and down the coast. We love San Francisco and visit frequently, but this was not one of our best travel memories. Nevertheless, I did write during our delay, then after arriving home, pounded out the rest of the required word count.
Of course I wasn’t finished.
A year ago January, I made a commitment to lose 50 lbs. After five months of diligent progress, I successfully achieved a 25 lb. loss and was perfectly on schedule to make my goal, still 25 lbs. away. But here I sit, probably 15 lbs. heavier, thinking about that and other aspects of my life which continually present challenges.
Somehow, during the not so dog days of August this year, I thought it was time to get a dog. I know how that sounds, but please know the two are not connected. Or perhaps they are, the humidity this summer as opposed to the dry heat we’re used to saturating my perspective on daily life.
I missed yesterday’s writing, but it should count that I spent a good amount of time discussing writing with a friend — someone who is also working on his first novel. And the entire experience left me remembering how much I used to profess that thinking is the most important aspect of writing. Of course, that doesn’t make much sense if I never actually sit down to write after that thought, so here I am. Processing. And I’ll do that through this weekend considering my novel, moving things around, adjusting bits of my character’s life — bits of ideas that only come with letting writing sit for a while. Letting it sit for as long as I have is probably not a good thing, but that will change in a few days.