An author I like recently said that writing a novel (or any other large work) is like a cartoon character sprinting on air, having just run off a cliff. Run and run and you can keep running as long as you don’t look down. Keep your eyes on the Road Runner, fixate on the goal, on the ideal and you can defy physics, you can deny the fact that gravity wants to dash you on the rocks and that the ACME rocket strapped to your ass will surely detonate. Eye on the Road Runner.
I think I looked down.
A couple days left in my break and the amount of concrete pay dirt I have to show, for my grand little epic, is not all that much. Home was not as good a work space as I thought. Distractions and distractions. Then, I tried helping a loved one who’s family was in a crisis. Stress and stress.
Was all this enough to force one into contemplating suicide? No. Not this one. However, I did down a pack of Pop Rocks (a stocking stuffer) and washed it down with a Coke. It was a ridiculous, strawberry flavored cry for help…or maybe I just wanted to test an urban legend. My head did not blow up.
But the above mentioned crisis has ended well. So that is at rest.
Today I drove to a coffee shop, the one with the outlet for my computer, the one in the downtown brick building on a downtown street, the one with a good window view. I left my cell phone elsewhere. I cursed, at first, but enjoyed the blessed disconnection. No calls. No internet. Just me and the work and the snow accumulating outside and watching the shop owners deal with it from my window perch.
The only time I’m not worried about writing, is when I’m actually working on it. I can scare myself silly when I think about working on it. But now I was lost in working out the problems in my head. I had a bead on the Road Runner. I was just starting to think, I’ve got you now, you feathery bastard.
My rocket pack did not explode. That’s a good day.
I watched a woman across the coffee house. She was angrily talking to someone, a poor someone that had to sit through that rant. I couldn’t hear. I don’t know what she was mad about. But I could tell from her body language, that I did not like her. Just the body language. All jerky, over animated, over emphasized (and not in a cartoonishly fun way) hand gestures and the way she gave a sharp nod at the end of each imaginary paragraph or point, telling the listener that they agree even before they can respond. At the height of whatever monologue she was giving (and do the words or subject matter even matter?) her hand gestures got positively Hitler-esque. The type of angry person who thinks the rest of the world is obligated to let her fume on them – negative energy pollution and never mind your neighbor. It’s an overindulgent kind of anger…like overindulgent angst or brooding…you act like you don’t like it, but you really do – it’s a sweet/sour dessert.
Body language is important.
At some point prior, I would have had to actually listen in on the conversation to realize I didn’t like this lady. But as you go along in life, you find shortcuts in everything and now the body language sufficed, to let me know ahead of time, that this chick was ten shades of odious and I could feel that presence across the room, curdling the cream in my Overpriced-White-Chocolate-Pretentious-Mocha.
I don’t know how far back I started observing people so much…but you never know when something useful will float by: a character quirk, a phrase, a peculiar syntax, a weird anecdote, etc.
I waited until the coffee shop closed. Now it was late and dark and no traffic. Lots of snow though. But I like driving through the snow (especially when there is little traffic). I’m good at driving in the snow. I find it relaxing. I’m good at using the skid and knowing when to start stopping. It’s not a loss of control, but a more anticipatory sort of control. Add on the MP3 player and it becomes surreal in a lucid, sharp-minded way – white snow and skeletal branches reaching for the moon.
But I’ve already gone on long enough…
Maybe tomorrow I’ll explain some of the potty humor in Dante’s Inferno.
Now I’ll either go to sleep or go back to work. If I keep my eyes on the Road Runner, I can defy physics.