Let’s talk about crutches. It will come as something of a shock to you all, but my psyche is not without its little kinks and bobbles. Shocking, yes, I know, you are all crying out in dismay that it can’t be so, but I assure you it is. I can, on occasion, be just a tiny bit dysfunctional.
Well, I can see that I’ll never convince you of this, so we’ll just take it as read and move on, shall we?
Without going into whys and wherefores, the deep underlying psychopathology of it all, I will note that I will tend to convince myself that I need x to be able to perform y, rather than just grind down and perform y. If I want to leap a tall building in a single bound, for instance, or run faster than a speeding locomotive (for another), since I have taken to heart that there are good reasons that I can’t do that (spurious ones, normally) — but still won’t let myself be less than I feel I ought to be — I will decide that I can’t do that jumping and running without my blue shirt with the big red S.
Or, to be less flowr’y, I decide that I can do amazing things, as long as I meet certain specific conditions, and then can’t (won’t) do them if the conditions aren’t met.
Even more short: I build myself a crutch, and require that I use it.
For the longest of times, I decided that I had to have a keyboard to write. I tend to write my second draft first, which means there’s a lot of backing up and rewriting, jumping three paragraphs back to insert something that I will write five paragraphs later…that sort of thing. It works fairly well (I suppose) on keyboard, and not well at all on paper. On paper one ends up with a mash of scribbles and a head full of frustrated self-loathing. That, I should say is what I do. It is not, necessarily, what I must do.
I have glossed over that distinction for years, and, if I have no computer time, I don’t write.
Then there was “…computer time that doesn’t replace family time”. And “…computer time wherein I am not frazzled from a long day”. And “…computer time when I have at least an hour to get my head into the book and channel it to the screen”. And. And. And. I piled the crutches up until it looked like the exit door at Christ’s Heal The Lame Telethon.
And I stopped writing, with the occasional day excepted.
I don’t want that. I am on the threshhold of bursting into some floral metaphor of vigor and growth, and I become rather fussy every time I notice that I’m holding me back. So, identifying one of my larger crutches, I weaned myself from the keyboard. I carry my Writer’s Pen and my Notebook everywhere. Any lunchbreak, I may break it out. Any long waiting room sojourn I can jot down my thoughts. Anywhere. Anytime.
As long as I’m not frazzled. As long as I have at least an hour to write. As long as–
*snarls at the crutches popping up like briars in life’s lawn*
“Not frazzled/exhausted/whatever” seems to mean “in a sufficient state that I can deploy the pen and ink for an hour”. So that is functionally equivalent to “at least an hour to write.” My central crutch, at the moment, seems to be that arbitrary chunk of time.
How long does it take to write a sentence? Shall we say a minute? So if I write in ten minute chunks, saying that I take two of those to re-enter the book, I can write eight sentences in my chunk. Ten minutes while waiting for coffee to brew and eggs to poach, ten minute break at 10:00, ten minutes at lunch, ten minute break at 2:00, ten minutes while waiting for my ride home (or ten minutes before I drive away). 40 sentences a day.
I was explaining this to Bridgette at the end of a pleasant, stable, sing-while-I-work day, and my teeth snapped closed over a snarl. Through my welded ivory clench I spat “-and I’ll write disjointed crap and will hate the work and have no fun with it and it will suck and —
“– — …” my face was glowing heat and my breathing was labored. I could feel my lip curled so far from my canines that my forehead contorted around twisted brows.
I’ve a theory. My theory is that anger, in nearly every case, is a response to a sense of being threatened. I had just shot from content-and-calm to snarling-beast in the space between words, no buildup at all. So….
I rested my head on Bridgette’s chin. “I seem to be terrified of this. I don’t care why. I’m tired of going through ever last one of these things and analysing it until it dies of boredom. I’m taking this crutch away whether I’m ready for it or not. Tomorrow I will write in ten minute bursts at least three times. And all week. Then we’ll see. And I’ll go tell Othello right now, so I’ll be too embarassed to back out of it.”
And now I’m going to. I’ll post this evening and say how it went. ‘Ta.