It Snowed, and I’m Trying to Write a Book
There’s two inches of snow outside right now. I can see it. I can feel it. It’s cold and it’s soggy, yet it’s already turning to ice. It’s both heavy and refreshing; beautiful and unyielding.
Winter’s here, and I’m trying to write a book. But first, I have to tell you about the sun.
- “The Bully Plank” — Paper Tiger
- “Legit” — Nas
- “Dignified and Old” — The Modern Lovers
- “Not Too Soon” — Throwing Muses
- “First Day of My Life (Companion Version)” — Bright Eyes
- “I’m a Cuckoo” — Belle and Sebastian
- “Go Find Yourself or Whatever” — Carly Rae Jepsen
- “Mansion On the Hill” — Bruce Springsteen
- “The Mountain” — Heartless Bastards
- ”I Wanna Know About U” — The (International) Noise Conspiracy
- “cat scratch” — Dua Saleh
- “Sad Femme Club” — Kimmortal
- “I Don’t Know What It Is” — Rufus Wainwright
- “‘Cello Song” — Nick Drake
- “The Pursuit of Happiness” — Band of Susans
- “Sky is Falling” — Blackalicious
Last week, I spent five days on a cruise. A gift from my in-laws, it was booked to celebrate Kerrie’s grandmother, who passed away shortly before Christmas last year. It was a Thanksgiving cruise, in that it occurred over the week of Thanksgiving and, also, there was turkey on the menu.
I didn’t eat the turkey, but I ate a lot of food. We all did. Cruises are not my thing — there are a lot of people, and a lot of lines for the elevator — but I will say that I deeply appreciate the opportunity. I now know what cruises are like. I think they’re interesting. They’re wonderful in the actual sense of the word “wonderful” — they fill me with wonder as marvels of engineering and societal planning. We visited a few islands, and we learned a lot about the complex docking procedures necessary for a ship the size of a skyscraper.
I had one single goal over the five days of the cruise: I was going to read two entire books. I was going to sit on the beach, or on the patio of our room, or next to a pool with a really tall water slide, and I was going to read two entire books — one about a guy who followed both Insane Clown Posse and Phish around for a few years, and one about the intersection where wildlife and human society meet. I was going to read both of them, because I had nothing but time.
Alas. It didn’t work. I only read one. (The easiest one. The one about Insane Clown Posse.)
I couldn’t keep my attention focused; my mind wandered. And, for a bit, I actually fretted — This is my vacation, how am I going to get over not using it to get through B O T H of these BOOKS?? But, in the end, I got over myself. I had planned for a perfect scenario, and that perfect scenario was not to be. Because perfect scenarios do not exist.
So, anyway, I’m trying to write a book.
I’m trying to write another book, and so this is the first in what might be, if everything goes well, one of many posts in which I wax poetic on the struggles of writing a book. I’m trying to write a book despite saying to everyone that I would never write another book. This is how it goes. Always, so I hear.
I’m trying to write a book, but really I’m trying to start a book, which means what I’m actually doing is trying to create an outline. I have a virtual box filled with virtual scraps of paper and I’ve organized them into virtual piles and I’m now sitting and waiting for the right time to get them all together.
I’m waiting for the weather to be perfect. I’m waiting for inspiration.
If anyone tells you they’re waiting for inspiration, by the way, that’s code for “I’m scared as hell.” It’s code for “I know this will be work, and I want to do the work, and I’m ready to do the work, but I’m 100% content not starting just yet.”
Haha. It’s fun, really.
EXCEPT, here’s the thing, y’all: I spent five days on a cruise with nothing but food and time. I could have read THREE books if I wanted to. But, instead, I putzed around. I looked at the water and then I walked around the boat and then I worked out a bit and then I ate an ice cream cone and I RARELY READ AT ALL. In fact, the only book I finished was tackled mainly on the day when I couldn’t access the ice cream cones.
The weather didn’t mean shit. I wasn’t stalling, waiting for perfection. I had it. I needed something different.
There’s a lesson about process here, and I will not assume it blankets us all — good ideas and progress come from a mind at work. There’s something about already chugging along — about being knee-deep in everything, with a few messes here and there — to actually spark the kind of inspiration we’re always waiting around for. I feel more at peace, more productive, when I’ve got tasks to work toward — when the snow piles up in my mind and I have to shovel a path toward the ideas.
My mind, my body — they don’t understand perfect, because perfect isn’t an achievable goal. It’s like asking someone to comprehend the limitless nature of space. It’s never going to be real, it’s always going to be abstract.
This is all my way of saying that I’m trying to write another book, which means I’m trying to remind myself that a perfect day doesn’t exist: the words come in between the works. The snow covers the mistakes enough to make a path. And, in the end, there’s no more pretending that anything’s going to make it easier, even if there are ice cream cones.