Save the forty winks for later

If your writing doesn’t keep you up at night, it won’t keep anyone else up either — James M. Cain

When I work on a writing project, I tend to stay up longer than I should and bear the effects of not enough sleep. But then, I’m a night owl, so I’m not entirely sure my writing is really the reason I stay up at night.

Why do I stay up longer than I should instead of getting my forty winks? Well, for starters, there is the night owl factor that is impossible to ignore or be dismissive about. And my brain tends to get its second wind after midnight whether I want it to or not.

There have been numerous stories and discussions, online and elsewhere, regarding what time of day writers and artists work on their craft. There are early morning folks who get up before the rest of the household wakes up to spend an hour or two doing their thing before life demands their attention.

There are those who write in the late evening after dinner and the kids and spouse have toddled off to bed. There are those who don’t start writing until after midnight where the creative embers don’t start burning at their brightest until 2am.

I am clearly in the late night category. However, I also will write any time during the day. I steal moments whenever I can. 15-30 minutes here and there. A part of my brain is always with the story, always with my characters, always with my boys. My writing doesn’t just keep me up at night. It’s with me every waking moment, too.

I have yet to be told by some well-meaning person that maybe I need to be more structured with my writing time. You know how this is going to end, right? If anybody does make a suggestion that I be more disciplined about the whole process, I will tell them to go fuck themselves with a lubed up big black dildo. And I’ll say that with a smile on my face.

Anyway, the time I spend working on my writing project has been steadily increasing in the past week. And I’m enjoying it. It’s grounding for me. It means life is settling back to a rhythm that would be optimal for writing. And that would still include staying up until two or three in the morning since that is never going to change.

All of this is a welcome change.

Time to take a deep breath and immerse myself again.

Stealing moments

There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you — Beatrix Potter

I don’t know about using ‘delicious’ to describe writing the first words of a story. It’s not the first word the comes to mind but it is very appropriate. Personally, I think of ‘excited’ and ‘eager’.

There are other words or phrases that incorporate the word ‘fuck’, too. Examples of this are: I’m fucking excited; I can’t fucking wait to get to the keyboard and start writing; why can’t everybody leave me the fuck alone so I can write. You catch my drift?

Writing the first words are not just the only things that are delicious in the process of writing. Aside from coming up with the characters and developing their personalities, putting two or more characters together for the first time and watching the sparks fly — for all the right and/or wrong reasons — is absolutely exciting and intoxicating. These meetings are worth more than beer and popcorn. Depending on what is happening, you either don a hazmat suit or a wet suit and have a bottle of mezcal and a plate of chilaquiles for snacking purposes. Whatever you wear and whatever you dine on, it all equals fun times.

Would I describe it as a high? Yes. It’s a better high than smoking pot or eating ‘brownies’. You avoid the after-effects which includes having the munchies. The creative part of the brain gets all lit up and you’re ready to take on the world or, at least, take on your characters’ world. You just want to go in there and fuck things up because the characters are planning to do exactly that… fuck things up. You know what that means… all hell is going to break lose. ¡Maldito derecho! Think I said that correctly.

Something else that is delicious is writing the first words each of your characters utters in the story. It is the first real introduction of the characters to the reader. It’s not just a physical description of that character which is also important because it’s one of the layers for building and creating a character. A character’s first words is another layer. It sets the tone and offers a first glimpse into who that person is and what their story might be.

I have fun writing dialogue. I know there are folks out there who have a hell of a time writing dialogue. It’s always fun opening a character’s mouth and hearing what words go flying out of it. I don’t know why but I find writing dialogue way too much fun. Writing dialogue can be delicious. Writing certain scenes can be delicious, too. But I won’t go there right now.

With all these things that makes writing so appealing to me, it’s a wonder I haven’t dropped everything to just simply write. But living in a world where money is required in assisting you in having a roof over your head and food on the table, kind of gets in the way of dropping everything to do the one thing you feel passionate. Ok, you can argue that there may be more than one thing you are passionate about. I’m just simplifying.

Once again, life has temporarily gotten in the way of letting me dive completely into my characters’ world. However, I’ve gotten better or sneakier about being a stone’s throw away from that world. Now, stealing moments with my boys is more of an expectation rather than an exception. In moments where there is nothing but me and the music playlist either occupying the quiet or chasing away the noise, in the moments before I go to sleep, my boys come for me and we enter the world the three of us are creating together. We talk while we are on the move. There is much to do, much to sort out, much to show.

When life gets in the way, trips to that world are not as frequent. And wanderlust builds up. My boys get antsy, I get antsy. In the moments we steal, we do what we can before I have to leave them again. And they’re getting better about not pouting and behaving petulantly. Thank god for small mercies.

The moments we steal are precious. Words hit the page and the adventure continues. I know where my boys will be at the end of the story. But it’s their unfolding journey to get to their destination is what excites me. How do they get from point A to point B? If I or the boys change a seemingly small detail, how does that alter their journey? What if I change the role of another character — how will it affect my boys? These are things I’ve already done and they are for the better. The subtle and not-so-subtle changes mean nothing but fun for everyone involved. When it’s fun, nobody wants to leave. Even when it’s not fun, nobody wants to leave. That’s why when life interferes, it sucks being dragged away.

Fortunately, there is another week of life’s interference and then, my boys and I will have more quality time together.

But for now, we are satisfied with stealing moments to be with each other.

Don’t know any other way

Being a writer is an endless study in human transition and lessons learned or forgotten or misapplied —Sloane Crosley

Being a writer is also realizing that the endless study in human transition can and does include the writer him/herself. That one’s own lessons learned, forgotten or misapplied, factor into one’s storytelling and the stories one wants to tell.

The stories I plan to tell will not make everyone happy. For those who like stories that are made of sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice, they can walk their asses right out the fucking door. Nothing I have to offer is made of sugar. I inhabit the realm of the salty, the tart, the bittersweet (emphasis on bitter, perhaps) and the uncomfortably hot. All that, yet still uniquely flavourful. Well, that’s what I believe anyway.

For the first time in quite awhile, I spent a good chunk of the weekend with my characters, my two boys. In many ways, the time together didn’t seem to suffer from a life that had kept me away from them since February. We carved out moments where we made a little time for each other. Never once did they disappear from me. They were and always have been close by. Never far from the reality of my life. Biding their time, and occasionally shaking their fists and even brandishing a weapon to use against anyone, real or fictional, who seemed to be in a threatening position to take me away from them.

It’s not surprising that other characters who might want me to tell their stories, have kept their distance from me because of the boys’ feral-like attitude to strangers and folks they don’t like. And there is a small list of folks they don’t like. Fortunately, none of them are the fictional characters I plan to work with in the future. So, yeah, the boys have gotten a bit better at allowing those folks to come closer. At least, close enough that I can hear them if they raise their voices.

Have I mentioned in previous posts that they are fiercely protective and possessive of me and what the three of us have together? I believe I have.

Most importantly, my boys love me. I don’t know why but they do. The fierce feelings are mutual.

In many ways, my boys are a blend of lessons learned, forgotten and misapplied not only in my own life but in those around me and what I see in the world. It’s more of a world view, I suppose, but the personal is very much in play.

In other ways, my boys are more than any word I could use to describe their presence and meaning to me. They are more than the ink that will form the vocabulary I will use to tell their story. We have a hold on each other. It is a powerful feeling to experience. It is tangible and intangible but undeniably visceral.

It’s bliss to be working on my writing projects again. Everything that goes into working on it, is familiar and warm. It’s something I fall into effortlessly without much thought. It’s also something I have been craving for a long time.

I think it has everything to do with the boys. They make it so easy for me to fall in with them, to let them take my hands and have them show me what they want me to know. It hasn’t been easy having them wait for me. Sometimes it hasn’t been easy getting them to co-operate when they’ve had their petulant moments.

Yes, we occasionally struggle and fight each other. But it’s only because we’re fighting for each other. This is what happens when we’re protective and possessive of each other.

My boys don’t know any other way. And that’s ok. Because when I’m with them, I don’t know any other way, either.