Monday morning. I didn’t want to get up this morning, and in fact, hit snooze repeatedly for over an hour before finally dragging my sorry, lazy ass out of bed shortly after eight. But I do feel rested, which is a dramatic improvement over how I felt last Monday when I started out the week already tired. Which is fortunate, because this weekend is TWFest/Saints and Sinners. Paul will be abandoning me on Wednesday to check into the hotel, and I don’t have to go till late on Thursday. I took Friday off as well, and am coming in late on Monday as well. So, I trust I can survive the weekend in one piece and without being completely exhausted by the time I return to work on Monday. We shall see, I suppose.
The weekend wasn’t as productive as I would have liked–then again, when is it ever–but it did accomplish its primary purpose: getting rested for the new work week. I read some more of The Underground Railroad, which is slow going. Partly because the subject matter is so intense, partly because it’s written so simply yet beautifully I want to savor the experience, and I am constantly having to put the book aside to think. The best books always make me think. It really is quite extraordinary, but not a quick or easy read.
So, I made my weekly to-do list this morning, and am proud to say that I only had to transfer half of last week’s list to this week’s; which is always a good thing. I really need to get back into the habit of making the weekly to-do list. I don’t know when or why I stopped in the first place, because there is ever-so-much satisfaction in crossing things off the list; even when you don’t finish everything on it, you know? It felt really good this morning crossing off the things I got done last week, and even in adding the uncompleted tasks to this week’s list was, rather than ‘oh, you lazy bastard’, more of a ‘oh, this will be easy to get done.’ We’ll see how it goes, of course, but at least making the list this morning wasn’t daunting and didn’t make me feel even more tired, the way it did last week.
Last Monday, as I worked on my story “Happyland” for a submission deadline the very next day, I suddenly realized the reason–despite several rewrites already–the story kept getting rejected every time I submitted it anywhere was because the way the story was structured it simply didn’t work–and I hadn’t even gotten to the scary part yet. I realized that the entire story needed to be overhauled; I had developed a bad case of the ‘lazy edits.’ This happens to me from time to time; an attempt to make small tweaks to a story that doesn’t work rather than starting over again from scratch while retaining the best bits. “Happyland”, as originally envisioned and written, simply doesn’t work. It’s nothing new, it’s nothing original, it’s nothing fresh, it has nothing clever to say for itself. It’s based on something that happened to me as a kid–one summer when my immediate family, along with aunts, uncles and cousins on my father’s side–were staying for a week at a beach house in Panama City Beach, Florida, only about three blocks from the water. There used to be an amusement park, the Miracle Strip, that we used to go to every time we stayed at the beach, and one time I got stuck with my youngest cousin who wanted to ride the haunted house ride and was also too small to ride the rollercoaster–so every time we rode the coaster someone had to stay off and mind him. I was annoyed and angry, it was hot and humid, and the haunted house ride–which was, even to my eleven year old mind, lame–this time it was actually intense and scary. There was something different about the interior that time; and I’ve had nightmares about it ever since. That was why I wrote the story in the first place; to dislodge it from my subconscious as well as to follow Stephen King’s admonition to ‘write about what scares you.’ But the story as I wrote it doesn’t work, and on Tuesday I started, slowly but surely, to rebuild the story from the very first line. It may not work this time, either–but I want to get it done this time.
That way it’s ready the next time a call I want to submit to comes around.
The new Scotty isn’t going as well as it should be either; again because I was trying to make it easy on myself rather than recognizing that the framework can stay but the story is new and different. Ugh, such an idiot, really. But every once in a while lightning strikes and I wake up.
Heavy heaving sigh. And I got started on my taxes!
And now back to the spice mines.