Friends and family hate walking up hills with me. I have no idea how they feel about the flat regions, but definitely the hills they hate. And it’s not that they are out of shape. To the contrary, I am the excessively shaped one…and I’m lazy.
Thus, when I reach the bottom of a hill, I want to get the climb over with as quickly as possible…I power my way up the hill, leaving them to trot along or simply do their own thing and catch up with me.
But the biggest challenge, once they catch up, is that they then have to wait for me to recover from my exertion. In my zeal to get to the top, I completely ignore the fact that the trip is not over once I reach the top…I leave nothing in my tank for the rest of the trip.
I’ve done the same whenever I’ve decided to change my shape with exercise or diet. I start out incredibly aggressively…not holds barred. And for a week or two, my goals are not only met, they are surpassed. I am incredible. I am a GOD! I am also exhausted and sore…and I slowly stop my program.
And as if this behaviour wasn’t already annoying enough, I find I also have a tendency to take the same attitude in my writing.
Prepare my work area. Cogitate on what I want to do. Research. Procrastinate. And then, WRITE LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW BECAUSE I REALLY WANT TO GET THIS DONE THIS WEEK OR AT LEAST GET AS FAR AS I CAN GET BECAUSE NEXT WEEK…
At the end of the process, whether it is a hundred pages of a novel, another feature article for a magazine, an outline and beat sheet for a new screenplay, I am exhausted and my brain hurts. The creative wheels come off (or wobble severely), and I lay up for a couple of days accomplishing nothing, except possibly another thousand games of Solitaire.
My ultimate goal is still way over there. Whether it is within sight or not, I can’t do anything about it because I am doubled over with my hands resting on my knees wondering why my (creative) lungs have shrivelled to the size of grapes.
I can drive a car by flooring the accelerator for 30 seconds and then releasing it until the car crawls to a stop, only to repeat the cycle again and again. I can. But the car will like it about as much as the other drivers and police. And whether due to a destroyed transmission or arrest, I will lose the car.
As I reminded myself on Twitter this past week, I am not writing a novel today. Rather, I am writing a scene, a paragraph, a sentence. But I am writing.
The top of the hill is not my destination, but rather is a way-station along the journey, a landmark I will pass. And for all I know—because despite my best efforts, omniscience has not yet occurred—the hill may be the most interesting and/or important part of the journey. The upward grade itself may hold the answer to the whole damned project
So here’s to my best efforts to ease into the next hill and enjoy the scenery along the way. I’ll reach my destination eventually and who knows, I might actually enjoy the trip (or at least, not drop of a coronary).
(Images are property of owners and used here with no destination in sight.)