distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

I was brushing my hair this morning, bent over a little, came up, and had twisted my back. Or is it my shoulder? I’m not exactly sure how that happened, the logic in there, the physical motions of what occurred. Either way, the pain is distracting me from writing at the moment. I’m also thinking about this writing-for-hire project I have—the contracts left at home; I forgot to sign them again—and what I should do to move forward on that, the deadline approaching next month. And when I read the news I tend to start crying. I just kept it in, as I am sitting out here in public. Also, a big project is due at work today—it’s sitting on my desk, awaiting me. And did I mention my back/shoulder? The two liquid Advils are not helping. Every day, at any moment, there is always some sort of distraction. I won’t let this ruin my drive. The difference is that I still feel it inside, impossible to ignore, the great desire to write this book, and a backache, a cry, a deadline or three, I don’t think that will keep me from it. Not permanently.

Yesterday, when it was time to walk to work, I had to shut down my computer and stop writing, but my mind was still cascading with possible sentences. The walk to work from here is at most 15 minutes, 10 minutes if I’m late for a meeting and practically run. As soon as I started the walk I found the line that would come next, the line that would start the next chapter. But my notebook was buried in my backpack and I couldn’t find it while walking. Worse, I may have lost my pen. So I just started repeating the line in my head. Again, again, at every crack in the sidewalk, at every crosswalk, at every turn. I would not let myself forget it. I would not lose the line.

I kept at it the whole way there. On the elevator, finally out of the cold, I dug out a pen from the very bottom of my bag and wrote the line down. It’s a good thing, too, because as soon as work started I forgot all about it and it wasn’t until this morning that I recalled the feverish repetition of something on yesterday’s walk, wondering what it had been.

I’ll do that every morning if I have to, line by line by line. It could take decades to write a book that way, but I don’t want to time myself. I don’t want to set rules. I always time myself and set rules. I just want to write it—however long it takes, however it comes out, for no market whatsoever, simply and only for myself. I’m painting a picture that no one may ever see, but I couldn’t live with myself if I never painted it. For the first time ever, I don’t mind that, the lack of expectations. It makes me want to write it all the more.

This year, and into 2008, I will have six books published. You won’t know what they are, because I won’t tell you, and my name’s not on any of them, and to be honest at the moment I couldn’t care less. It’s this one, the one no one knows about, that’s got my heart beating. Even though my back and shoulder burns, and I need stronger painkillers, my heart is beating somewhere under that.

Don’t stop now.

6 responses to “Twisted”

  1. No, don’t stop now. Don’t ever stop! And I love when you can hold on to that sentence or scene (or that they’re willing to stay with you) until you find pen and paper.

    And for the back/neck/shoulder pain: Try those 8-hour heating pads that Duane Reade or Walgreens sells (I think it’s called ThermaCare); there are different shapes for the back, neck, elbow, waist, knee, etc. I’ve been there, believe me, and ThermaCare is so my best friend.

  2. What a moving post! I’m rooting for you and your heart-pounding excitement over this new book.
    Hope your shoulder/back feels better soon!

  3. Go, Nova!

    re: painkillers, there’s an herbal medicine called Arnica you can take in pill and cream form for muscle aches – it doesn’t tear your stomach up as much as Advil (so I hear, I’ve only used it topically).

    Take care, and keep marching to the beat of your heart!

  4. Nova, so sorry about your back but very glad to read that you are back — writing with verve!! Way to go.

    I am in a bit of a writing funk myself right now, so I am a bit envious of you. But I am more happy than envious, very happy indeed. Go, go, go!!!

  5. Keep going, Nova!

    Oh, and you have to take at least 600 mg of ibuprofen to kick that kind of muscle spasm/ache.

  6. Twist (n): 1) forward motion combined with rotation around an axis; 2) a point at which something turns or bends; 3) an unexpected development of events.

    Not to get all metaphysical on you, Nova (and I hope the pain goes away soon!), but I thought this recent twist was interesting, in light of the different outlook you have taken on your writing. Maybe this twist is symbolic; the pinch of pain that comes with taking a fresh new direction.

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