I love to read books about writing. They give a sense of both community and intimicy without personal commitment or getting out of bed. Every one is a favorite read and yesterday I added another - Ann Patchett's The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life - which I bought from byliner, an ingenious new source for digital publications where each work is short and easily read in one sitting.
Every single writer's memoir I've read makes the same statement - that when it comes to sitting down and writing, almost anything sounds better than actually writing, that the act of doing writing skates on the thin edge of hate. It makes zero sense, to hate doing something you love, but the sentiment appears to be universal. Even Joyce Carol Oates, with over 50 published novels and countless plays, essay and poetry collections in her oeuvre, writes in The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art that whole mornings pass by and all she can show for it is a long day dream and a list of songbirds that have flown past the office window (and obviously that isn't true very often, but still, the point is made). Only Stephen King, in his writing memoir On Writing, denies any block or lag or distraction ever occurs in his writing process. He also vehemently warns against using adverbs, though he uses them frequently in his own work, unsparingly. Patchett, too, writes how difficult it is to sit down and write, that the distractions are plenty and (almost) unavoidable. Only when she was awarded a seven month residency with a small stipend in an artist colony was she free of ready diversion and so wrote her first novel. This morning I had nothing to say and little desire to write. I locked myself out of the house instead.
There's something in air lately. Goldenrod, me thinks, for the nasal passages are dryish and the sinuses tender. I awoke with a faint tension/migraine headache and took the prescribed medication to ward off a three day pain binge. As always, the medication makes me very, very sleepy, and at one o'clock had yet to produce a single word, having spent all morning cruising the internet, waiting for the muse to show up. I took the dogs out and lingered in the yard, bathing in sunlight in the garden, watched the hummingbirds and the last of the season's butterflies. This usually helps, but not today. Soda! We need a soda! my ego cried. So I drove to the market and back (only a six minute detour), and that's when I couldn't get back in the house. No, there wasn't a window open and the front door key apparently doesn't work, which is weird, because it used to work. The cell phone sat on the kitchen counter, unreachable. I ran over to my sister's place and she gave me a mystery key that doesn't fit any of our doors either. Mom is somewhere in Alabama but not within a hundred miles for another couple days. Hunger became a pressing issue and, wallet in hand, one I could solve with a delicious lunch out at my favorite local coffee spot, McGraw's. Lunch improved the situation, even I was in in public in my writing attire, which is to say, a step dressier than pj's. As I was leaving to head up the street to Tim's, because surely Tim could save me, I joked to April, who works the counter at said favorite coffee shop, that maybe I subconsciously locked myself out as an excuse not to meet the deadline. She suggested it was a pretty good topic to write about, our subconscious behaviors and misbehaviors, which got me thinking about this quote Tim wrote down for me from Quantum Physics for Poets:
Perhaps human consciousness may be explained as a quantum state phenomenon.
On returning to the house I jimmied a thin cheese cutter borrowed from the studio between the door and the jam to no avail. The dogs freaked out (good to know they're at attention when someone tries to break in). Checking the first floor windows again I discovered an unlocked one sealed shut from the paint job last winter. Finally, a chance to be clever! A paint scraper in the garage did just the trick and I was in through the dining room window in no time. (Note: window is now securely locked, so don't get any ideas).
Ah, now I could write. But wait! We need chocolate! And there's nothing sufficient in the house, my ego wailed, We must go for ice cream! Twenty minutes later: and one more cup of coffee!
It's hard to say if I subconsciously rigged a ridiculous situation only to find something to write about today, or if my absent minded slipping the lock simply staved off another eventual rant. Am I choking her back or beating her into giving it up? I don't think we have the science to explain this quantum conundrum. Nor time left in the day to chastise. It's done. And cocktail hour is upon us.