Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writer at Play

If I had remembered the thingee that connects my netbook to my camera, I’d post pictures. Me, this week, having fun at the beach with the family. If I had remembered, you’d see me playing swim-tag with my kiddos at the pool. Or, using a rather complicated network of foam noodles and Toy Story boogie boards, one kid dragging me, the other dragging my husband Danny, across the pool. See who gets there first. In the pool, with my daughter Abby, everything is a race.

At the beach, I hold my little guy’s hands and together, we brace against the rushing waves. We went out last night at high tide, the water choppy, everything near the water so misted over with saltwater, you could hardly see. But, it was fun. Farther off, Abby and Danny, diving into the waves.

We eat turkey sandwiches. We play legos at the beach house. We engage in a week-long Monopoly game—the only time all year that we actually begin and end an entire game, all the way through to bankruptcy for all but one. World-wide economic dominion for the last man standing. (Last year it was Abby; I was the first one bankrupt.)

Though I’m not really blogging here—this doesn’t count—I do write. A little. I dabble around in my wip, mostly to keep it alive in my brain. Last year, at the beach, I had just received my editor’s revision notes for Goliath and, though I didn’t even bring my netbook with me, I wrote the whole week long, but only inside my head. I processed those notes. I scribbled down a few notes.

This year, I open up the document in spare moments. Poke around. Write a paragraph. Call it a day.

Jack London said he wrote a thousand words every day, no matter what. On the road, on the sea, the glacier, wherever he was. Joan Didion has said she needs to sleep in the same room as her novel-in-progress to keep the story with her.

Others need to take breaks. Leave it completely. They return revived, fresher for the work. Energized.

Know thyself. Good advice for any writer, particularly in the area of process and the accumulation of writerly habits. Know thyself, and more: tell thyself the truth. I would love to work like normal all week, but I know that’s not possible. Not with all the wave-jumping I need to be doing with my little Aiden. All the monopoly-playing me and Abby have planned.

Alternately, I would love to forget the work completely, but that’s equally impossible. Or, in the least, a dangerous practice. To leave it behind completely would be to risk losing the story.

So, this week, I’m playing. And writing (a little.)