novels / writing

The Rhythm of It

Bad day, good day, bad day, good day… I guess I can’t expect all good.

I had a terrible writing day yesterday. First problem: I could not, not for the life of me, get up. I slept in till eleven I think, or it could have been closer to noon. As a morning writer, this really kills the magic, but I still made an attempt to salvage the day. I ventured out to my favorite new cafe where, should have guessed, there was not one free table. So I went to a backup cafe, had coffee I don’t even really like anymore, and shoved myself on over to my weekend writing spot. My favorite desk was taken, obviously, so I took another one. I opened my file. I told myself I would finish the chapter. I did not. I felt so tired—though, if you sleep ten hours, how can you still be tired?—that I contemplated sleeping on the floor under my desk. Then, after hours of denying myself a nap but still not getting any worthy writing done, I wrote a good sentence. Then another. Then—no!—I remembered I was asked to make cuts to a work-for-hire book I wrote some months ago and I think they wanted the cuts on Monday. So I stopped writing to work on the cuts. And there went my day. I went home and my overflowing email inbox gave me the panics and the fact that I have no idea how to fix my life and my partner’s life gave me panics and the panics even made it so I couldn’t read a magazine or enjoy meaningless TV. I began to mutter that I don’t know if I can do it, I can’t do it, I can’t! And E ran out to get me food before I keeled over from the can’ts. Whatever the cause, the writing day was a bust.

So, today, a Sunday, I was nervous. Late last night—technically early in the morning—I was woken by an awful series of squawks coming from the living room. High-pitched, vibrating the walls: that’s what’s otherwise known as our door buzzer. The buzzes just kept going. I was fast asleep at first, so I didn’t really understand what was happening. Then I figured it out. Clearly someone wanted in the building, but I was so tired I couldn’t get out of bed. Finally some poor soul got out of bed to let them in, because next came the noise from the hallway—pounding and drilling and a locksmith yelling that someone better pay the 160 bucks they owed him.

So it was not a good start to the day. I woke up, snoozed the alarm for a half hour, then tried to start my day. Somehow I made it to my new favorite cafe, where a good table against the wall was there waiting for me. Somehow I opened my file and started to type. Somehow good sentences came out. Somehow I finished the chapter.

There will come a time when I will finish this manuscript and will need some readers to actually read it to see if it’s any good. That day seems so far ahead in the future I can’t even imagine it. It’s like saying “someday I will own a house” or “someday I will live in California” or “someday I will grow a third thumb.”

Anyway, I’m writing toward that someday. Yesterday was bad, but today, so far, is pretty okay.

6 thoughts on “The Rhythm of It

  1. I am glad that, after all that, today is looking up for you. I hope you find a better flow this trip and the panics and can’ts stay far far away.

    And let me just say that I am all for this third thumb idea. As long as it is on one of my hands. Don’t really care which. My dumb luck would surely place it on my left cheek or behind a knee.

  2. Glad to hear your writing rhythm was good today. I’m having a long slump, mostly to do with kids on summer holiday, but I’m looking forward to having some good writing days again soon.

    Keep at it, Nova. I look forward to being one of your readers!

  3. And when you get to that day–and you will–you’ll read this entry and give yourself (or at least you should!) a HUGE pat on the back. Keep on keeping on.

  4. please do not grow a third thumb. that’d be nasty (no offense to three-thumb people intended).

    and the buzzer… i’m going to rewire it so that if anyone ever presses our button at 5am again it will kick them in the teeth and ask them what makes them so goddamn important to think they have the right to wake up the whole building.

    in california there won’t be any buzzers, or lead-footed upstairs neighbors who vacuum four times a day, or drunks partying outside our bedroom window all through the night/morning, or fearless mice (that are immune to bbs!), or barking dogs that wake us, or waiting for hot water, or terrible humidity, or evil student loan companies. you’ll always have your favorite table in your favorite cafe and can spend every day writing instead of at a day job.

    for reals.

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