out of context

(photo courtesy Army Jones)

Where the hell have I been? Not writing, that’s for sure, and I feel oddly guilty, like I should offer an accounting of my activities. (What, are you my boss or something? Am I sleeping with you?  No, no, no, and yet I feel I owe you an explanation.)

Ever since we turned my office into a bedroom for my daughter, I’ve been wandering around the house trying to find a comfortable place to write. I haven’t found one yet. That spot is too dark, this chair is lumpy, I’m cold, I need another cup of tea. For the first time ever, the laundry seems more compelling than any story I have to tell.

I’m starting to worry.

And then spring break happened. Why would I complain? We went on vacation to Kauai. Nothing like getting pounded all day by warm waves to clear one’s mind. I’m sunburnt and waterlogged, my shirt is inside out, I have sand behind my ears and I hardly have the wherewithall to tie my shoes, much less write, and I’m starting to worry.

But I’ve been tagged in the Lucky 7 Writing Game by two lovely writing friends Downith  and Marina, so I now I’m IT. I have to pull myself together, right?

Rules:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they’re written.
  4. Tag 7 other writers.

Here are seven lines from page 77 of my WIP, What Would Water Do (a novel):

…the cat showed up again, just waltzed right in like it lived here.  Wayne had left the front door of his apartment ajar to catch a cross breeze, maybe secretly hoping the cat would return although he’d never admit that because Wayne says cat lovers are masochists, people who think they don’t deserve love, pathetic saps who get off on giving more than they get. Cats just take and take, offering nothing but the negligible pleasure of their fickle company, leaving nothing but fur.  Not like a dog.  Hell, even a fish gives more than a cat does, swimming around, putting on a pretty show.  A fish is a contribution to the décor but a cat does nothing for him.

And the writers I’m tagging (unaware if they are working on  projects with at least 77 pages and with hesitation, since I’m not sure if they’ll think this is a game or a pain,) are:

Sparks in Shadow

Averil Dean

Running in Circles

Abominations

Stories in Pieces

Slightly Ignorant

Tulasi-Priya

If this is more pain than game, if the buck stops here, don’t sweat it. I am usually the first to ignore chain letters and won’t bat an eye if you blink over this one.

And hopefully, I’ll pull myself together soon.

When you fall off the wagon/lose focus/overcook the noodle/lose your mojo/take a detour into lala land, what do you do to get it all back again?  

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About girl in the hat

aka Anna Fonté, writer of novels, short stories, personal essays, and bits about the neighborhood crows. The things I write want you to look at them.

44 comments

  1. I’m glad you’re back. I need to climb back on the wagon too. Roll on Monday when my children go back to school.

  2. I like that passage! Am suffering from envy now… Especially since now it’s my turn to enjoy and entertain my children over the holiday, so there’s not going to be much writing getting done. Good luck with finding your perfect writing nest, Anna!

  3. Marc Schuster

    Thanks for tagging me! At the moment, I’m between projects, but the minute I have 77 pages, I’ll post something!

  4. Love the excerpt. It’s so true about cats, they seem very arrogant. “Feed me, scoop up my leavings. I’ll be asleep on your pillow.”

  5. Well small things can be the start of huge ones … just look at avalances :-)

  6. “offering nothing but the negligible pleasure of their fickle company”. Nice.
    Hmmm, getting it all back again… For me it’s usually a sparkly new idea, so compelling I have to write it down right now, and, hmmm, I’d better just write a paragraph on it so I don’t forget the feeling of this idea, and, hmmm, that’s two paragraphs now but it’s feeling even better, so I’ll just do a bit more while I’m here, and later, cool, I have pages and I love them and does anyone wanna see my new pages, do you like them, you DO ??? Awesome, cos I’m totally obsessed with this idea, and you prob won’t see me much for awhile now ok….
    Sigh… I wish that would happen today…

  7. TheOthers1

    Jealousy is abounding right now. Ive been to Kauai, but its been 5-6 years ago. I haven’t written any long pieces in a while and have a slew of unfinished stuff. I need to get my act together.

  8. Nesting doesn’t just happen with pregnant women! I went back to my roughest beginnings, to an old rustic cabin with no electricity, to paper and pen. Where did you write before you had that office space? You’re a homeless writer at the moment. I wonder if instead of trying to find ‘place’ you figure out what attributes of the place pull you to write and then see if you can find a place with some or all of those. Like a window with a view, a blank wall, etc. Maybe if you analyze why that office worked you can find tools to recreate elsewhere. Similar to a previous topic, maybe it’s the emotion attached to the place that’s important.

    • Aha! I am a bird without a nest, precisely! Hobo crow. What a good suggestion you have– I will have to think more about the qualities that inspire me. I think warmth and brightness have something to do with it. Thank you for helping me figure this out. You’re like a feng shui guru or something.

      • Feng shui guru cracks me up. I’m sitting here late at night in a garage because there’s no heat in my cabin. I have my bed, my bedside lamp, the dogs, and tool boxes and an air compressor and a cold concrete floor! My feng shui home for now. Glad I could help though. I love the image of the hobo crow. Of course crows are incredibly smart you know, so wise choice.

  9. I’m so flattered that you tagged me! I don’t think I have 7 other people to tag, though… (I definitely just outed myself as the uncool kid, didn’t I? :-).)

  10. Thank you so much for thinking of me, Anna. I wish I had the space (in my head) to really get into my novel, but the crappy situation from January hasn’t been resolved yet and my mind is still spinning. All I have is the hundred word project and those stories don’t lend themselves very well to the 77, 7, 7 plan. (I checked to see, and it wasn’t pretty. :) ) I really like yours.

    There’s something masochistic about my relationship with Kitty. She had an indignant moment last week because, well I don’t know. Maybe she doesn’t like Mondays? She lunged and I had to grab her paw to get a claw out of my forearm without making the wound bigger. She didn’t understand all the loud expletives she heard the rest of the week when she begged for food or used her box. Wayne definitely has a point.

    • Our cat was so stressed out that we had gone away and left her that she spent the entire day yesterday head-butting my hand for pets. (Very hard to type and pet at the same time.) Then she went out, killed a bird, and left it in the laundry room next to her pile of barf. Today, she’s exhausted from the manic freak-out but she’s still making eyes at me. Funny how annoying and cute they can be simultaneously. (Someday soon you’ll have time to write, Re. I know you will.)

  11. cats are mysterious wonderful creatures…and maybe Wayne isn’t secure enough to be with one. or maybe a cats stillness brings out too much of himself that he doesn’t like about himself. calling Dr Freud, Dr Freud…anyway, welcome back Anna. continue…

  12. No explanation required! I just spent 5+ hours on a plane — and I worked on my printed out m/s the entire time. A 5 hour flight has never gone so fast; I looked up and we were there. That’s what I always need as a kick in the behind ….. a big block of time to focus and really dig in. After that, I can do smaller snippets.

    And I totally get it about “the right place” to write. I’ve been working at the dining room table, but I’m seriously considering turning a bedroom into my writing space. There’s nobody here but me, my husband, and the dogs, yet I yearn for a small room with a door to close.

    • Wow! A door to close. Wouldn’t that be divine?
      I’m very impressed with your focus on the plane. All I could think about was how sore my butt was and when were they going to feed me. Planes reduce me to a vegetative state. Good for you to use that time! (I imagine that seeing your ms on paper changes everything– I do most my work right on-screen, but your comment reminds me that on paper, the word is completely different.)

  13. I can relate to finding the perfect place to write. I used to sit at my desk in my home office, but my chair faced away from the back door, and my dog (Henry, he of coffee-drinking fame) would sit behind me and figit all day as he watched for squirrels in the yard. Like having someone watching you write over your shoulder. So now I sit on a couple of cushions on the floor of the living room, which keeps him company and me fairly sane. It’s actually better for my carpal tunnel too, since my hands are lower. If this all sounds ridiculous, believe me, I know it is.

    BTW: Henry only slurps decaf, and just a lick or two, so not to worry.

    • I like that. If you can’t beat them, join them on the floor. Although we writers think of ourselves as solitary creatures, it seems that many of us have company while we write. Little cats and dogs peering over our shoulders.

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  15. I sure wondered where you were. I thought I had deleted you! Went to Seattle – lots of big black crows up there and nearly bought you a beautiful silk scarf with crows on them . Welcome back. With painting if you are not working you just show up. Usually something happens or you just sit there with a blank canvas. then you put some marks on it and then some more marks ….

  16. Pingback: Still Life (Part 5 of 10) « storiesinpieces

  17. Any line that starts with “the cat showed up again” is going to be beloved by the public.

  18. Great excerpt! I never thought about it before but I think Wayne nailed it. Cat lovers really are masochists. As for not writing, I totally get it. No need to explain there. When I get to that point, I usually try not to push it. I close up my camera and I just let it be. Eventually something always pulls me back in again. That’s a given.

  19. Cats mock us, and they do so beautifully – as would befit any silent icon.

    When I fall off the wagon, I put any vital project – drawing, writing – on my list of things to do, only bumping them ahead of things like making my bed or washing my hair. I approach it like any chore, until I begin working on it and if I grasp it right, if the subjects lock, then the chore becomes a joy. And there is no joy so complete as a drawing or essay I can hold close as my own.

    And then I think about washing my hair.

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