In a few days, the work halts. Vacation time it will be. Down the pen, don the boots, eh? In the meantime, let’s race hard, let’s be proud of oneself on the final day.
If I could spend all my days wordsmithing – selecting the best words and putting them in optimal order – that’s what I would do. It’s surprising how infrequent this craft work is. Oh, I know drafting is all about the words, but mostly I find myself conjuring up sentences whose sole function is to express plot or idea or fact. Some care is taken with the words, of course, but not in way I mean when I say “wordsmithing.” Wordsmithing is a delicious sinking into hours of moulding old phrases and consulting dictionaries and thesauri for perfect effect.
Today I’m happy to cross out the word “embroiled.”
Working hard entices you into a spiral in which your underlying mood dips, day by day, until one day you realize you’re only plodding on because of stubbornness. This descent seems barely noticeable. And then you’re there. Where you are isn’t pretty. At that point you need a circuit breaker: a word of encouragement from a friend, a bracing bike ride, or a bottle of wine.
In the space of one day, sometimes only an hour, perhaps even just over a single minute, you’re transformed. You run to your desk.
They were meant to feed off each other. The Freshness Big Year – reduced exercise but still daily, regular sleep patterns, less alcohol, a couple of minor dietary improvements – was intended to produce steady energy that feeds into my 1,000 Big Year, which is all about finishing a book: rise early, no Facebook during each dedicated-to-work morning, draft a thousand words, do daily planning/monitoring.
It hasn’t worked out as planned, at least not yet. Sleep has been disrupted. Exercising has been weirdly tough. Some days have required plotting or analysis, not drafting, and I’ve jumped briefly to publication plans for a different book. Frankly, my days are often a mess.
But let’s look at the positives. One way or another, nearly every day includes the equivalent of a full, uninterrupted-by-FB morning work. I’m exercising nearly daily and my end-year targets might still be achievable. I’m enjoying less wine. I’m more or less organized, day by day. The spirit of each of these Big Years is well and truly alive. I adore them both.
I cannot believe this, must not, otherwise I’d retire. Seth Godin, after blogging thoughts and ideas daily for eighteen years, suddenly says: “And yet, here I am, sixteen Aprils in a row on this blog so far, and now, finally, zilch. Empty.” Will he bounce back tomorrow? For my sake, I hope so.
Open, that’s what the sign says. For four days Bar Ristretto was closed and that was my Easter. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate that Easter is a key period for many and I never begrudge them that. It’s also true that any community/country needs public holidays ripe with historical significance, if only so that the community can relax to refresh. But for me, of course I begrudged the loss of regular workdays. Back into it, now, back into it!
Don’t get me wrong. If I’m forever bewildered, I’m also glimpsing a year of such magical promise.
Life doesn’t lend itself to simplification. This year is meant to be daily attention to writing interruption-free (1,000 Big Year), generating steady energy through physicality and some dietary changes (Freshness Big Year), finding peace through minimal meditation (Stillness Big Year), and keeping an eye on the big picture by researching self publication (Tractor Big Year). An organic whole, that’s the idea for 2018. This was not to be a year of adventures or adventurousness, not really.
So went the theory. The reality is a pendulum between immense pleasure at seeing the book power onwards and despondency when the year’s tapestry of strictures fails. I’ve realized that this year will be a special challenge, one played out in my mind rather than in the wider world. So be it.
Yesterday I agonized over a plotting issue: where I finished one rough draft of events jarred with where I next took up subsequent events. I tried hard to solve the issue but to no avail. So this morning I blew up the text into a big typeface and printed out a couple of dozen pages. Out come the scissors. On a large desk I’ll snip and reassemble. Hope it works . . . (if it doesn’t there is something even more terribly wrong) . . .