I have a confession.
A writer’s confession, which should be taken with all the appropriate hand-wavings and grains of salt. When you look at the real problems of the world, my meager problems mean little. But it’s weighing on me nonetheless.
I haven’t worked on my novel in almost two weeks.
On the one hand, I feel okay about that, but on the other hand, I feel very much not okay about that, because I know I’m not going to be able to work on it today, and it’s dubious whether I’ll be able to get to it later this week either. The excuses for this are twofold:
One, it was vacation last week, and as much as writing is a release and an adventure in pink unicorn land, there are days when it’s work, too. And of late, the writing has felt more like work than like a unicorn frolic. As such, a little vacation from it is, I think, warranted, and what better time than when I’m on a vacation from actual work? I got to turn the ol’ brain off, veg out and watch some TV, take the kids and the wife on a few day trips … it was good. Didn’t have to worry about how to get my protagonist out of his latest scrape. Didn’t have to construct the machinations of the villain working behind the scenes. Didn’t have to batter my brain against the Rube Goldberg machine of gears and spindles and flywheels that constitutes the plot of this thing.
Still, I felt guilty about leaving that creative garden untended for the week, sort of the same way I feel about letting my lawn continue to grow, sprouting weeds and dandelions and the occasional mushroom, while my neighbors keep their lawns neatly trimmed.
Sidenote: there’s a new show out called Speechless, about this deadbeat family with a handicapped, mute son. No idea if the show has any staying power or not — the first few episodes have been pretty funny, but who knows — but I at least resonate with the family. Not because they’re jerks — the mother proudly drives in the emergency lane, runs stop signs, and flings bluster and righteous indignation and her son’s handicap at anybody who even looks sideways at her. And I have a hard time getting down with that. What I totally get, though, is that they just don’t give a sharknado what other people think of them. Lawn is overgrown? Paint is peeling? Car’s looking a little dumpy? Yeah, no, we’re not going to fix those things. They just don’t matter to us; we have only so many fargos to give. To that, I give a deep, sonorous AMEN.
So I returned to work on Monday, all set to hunker down and return to the love-hate relationship I have with my current novel. Which brings me to…
Two: I can’t find my flash drive.
Now, before you say anything, know that I’ve already said every possible thing to myself, mostly inside my own head, occasionally in raging, fists-pounding-on-the-desk angry shouts. How can you be so stupid? Haven’t you heard of backups? How could you possibly lose it? Dunce! Idiot! Disorganized, sloppy, careless!
And my excuses are like the rain in Arizona: woefully inadequate, but all there is. I write the novel mostly at my job, so keeping it on the flash drive makes sense for taking it home, back and forth. But I have to steal time at work to write, so I don’t exactly have a routine, and, well, backing up is the last thing I’m thinking about, because usually I’ve either got parent calls to make or meetings to get to or students coming to my room and …
Well, here’s my other dirty confession. I haven’t backed up outside of the flash drive in over a month.
And of course, with the whole of the novel missing (or at least my recent work on it), I can’t re-read to get inspired to write the next bit. Not to mention the soul-crushing stupidity I feel when I think about the project at all, which pushes every creative thought right out of my ears.
But I’m going to have to face up sooner or later. If the drive doesn’t turn up in the next few days, it probably never will; there’s only so many places it could reasonably be, and considering all the places we went over the break … well. That little piece of plastic and silicon could be anywhere in a fifty-mile radius, which means it might as well be on the moon for my likelihood of stumbling across it again.
Luckily, the weather is changing. Morning runs have been downright pleasant — sixty degrees or so with the stars twinkling overhead — and have done good things for my blood, which on Monday was boiling, and which today is only simmering. Further, when I think about it, the beginning of the novel was going to need massive re-working anyway, probably a complete re-write in lots of places, so the first 40,000 words were hardly carved in stone.
Still, for the moment, they’re not carved anywhere, and that’s tough to see around.