Monday, September 17, 2007

Writing Despite (you fill in the blank).

Warning: This post contains stomach-turning words like puke and poop!

Yeah, so I'm yawning. Just be glad my dry heaves have passed. Quite a feat, considering I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. to the unmistakable sounds of Pet in Distress. Anyone with a cat or dog knows which noises I'm talking about...starts somewhere deep in their gastrointestinal system and works its way toward the throat, where it gurgles and sputters before becoming a smokin', stinkin', foaming mound beside the bed.

So I fling back the covers and gingerly set one foot, then the other, on the carpet. Experience has taught me to step lightly.... I tip-toed around warm landmines long enough that my success made me cocky. Haha! thought I, not a drop of the stuff between my toes! No sooner had I put the dot under the exclamation point of my boastful thought than squish. Which led to some pretty colorful expletives, whispered between my tightly-clenched teeth.

I'll spare you the remaining gory details. Suffice it to say that half a roll of paper towels and a couple dozen squirts of Resolve later, all was well. Even the dog. But my early-morning wake-up call got me thinkin':

When your day starts out this way, how do you write 'happy'?

It's tempting to finger-stomp around the keyboard, banging out angry scenes and snippy dialog. But gosh darn it, the stuff I'd saved yesterday doesn't call for narrowed eyes and snarling lips, let alone heated words.

I re-read all the adages and cliches stuck to my monitor. To the wall above it and the shelves around it. You know, stuff like "Good enough never is" and "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." But in my mood, they made a bad mood badder. Until I got to the one that goes "Do or do not; there is no 'try'." Happens to be one of my all-time favorites. I use it a lot when things aren't going my way. I find myself wishing, often, that others in my life used it more, too. ("Don't tell me you'll try to remember to wipe peanut butter off the kitchen counter when you make a PB&J sammich, just DO it." "Don't try to blow grass clippings away from my rose garden, just DO it.")

Easier said than done, to cite another oldie. Cuz my fairy godmother ran away from home, decades ago. Sad but true. Packed up her sparkly magic wand and glittery wish dust, and hit the highway, leaving me alone with my wall of 'sage-isms'. Much as I sometimes hate to admit it, Nike's "Just do it" works.

Deep breath, shoulders squared, spine straight, chin up. (That's my "Just do it" posture.) "I don't want to be in this bad mood. Wasn't the dog's fault, after all, that he ate god-knows-what and it didn't agree with him. So get over it, already. The mess is cleaned up. Heck, the house even smells good, thanks to the fresh scents built into the carpet cleaner. So look for the bright side":

I did wake up alive, for starters. The coffee pot didn't leak. Computer fired up, instantly; ditto the Internet. The file I'd saved yesterday popped up on command. And no one was injured while cleaning up doggy vomit.

Suddenly, my strange mind conjured ways I (or the dog) might have been harmed, cleaning up the...well, know.... The image of me, being eaten alive by a pulsing, growing blob of former stomach contents flicked the 'bad mood' switched to 'good mood'. And all is now well with my world. Mostly. If I choose to look for it.

So when you sit down to write and the mood you're in doesn't match the stuff going on in your scenes? Flex your 'picture this' muscles. See your world as it isn't.

Funny stuff, I tell ya.

Now my challenge is, how to get out of this mood before I go to the post office. Those people behind the counter never take the 'service' part of their corporate title seriously if you go in there with a smile on your face.

Happy writing, folks. And may your days be free of doggy...well, you know.



George Clayton said...

Loree, I am never disappointed by what I read here. You make me laugh and you make me think. Sometimes you make me think about laughing. What a writer! I admire your no-nonsense approach to writing and life in general. Your husband is one lucky dude, I tell you! I'm relieved that you're putting new things on your blog again. I check back here often, and am always disappointed when you haven't had a chance to post something new. One of these days, I will attend a conference where you are a featured speaker, and shake your hand in person. Until then, consider it shaked.

Loree Lough said...

Thanks, George, for the compliments, and thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to visit my blog. Looking forward to reading more comments written by you, and if you and I attend the same conference, by all means, introduce yourself so we can blab over a cuppa coffee!