Tuesday, January 28, 2014

High


I'm so good at jinxing myself.

Just as soon as I lifted my self-imposed cage off this blog and can write as freely as an uncaged bird, I find myself coming up empty. Nothing interesting has happened lately, and it's too cold to do anything, justifies DH on my behalf. The kiddos haven't said or done anything funny, and I just haven't had any writing inspiration.

It's all cuz of this unreasonable, intolerable, and insufferable cold weather. We are having another two days off school, which is unprecedented for us, as we are a hearty, Midwestern people. Alas, even the hearty can get hypothermia and frostbite.

Since the beginning of winter, I've been thinking about taking a collection of black and white photographs to go with our bleak, colorless outdoors. But that's where it stopped--just thinking about it. Because actually taking the pictures would mean being in the cold, unnecessarily, and draining my phone (camera) battery faster than I can say, "It's freezing!" So all the pics I can muster are these taken cowardly indoors to show just how freakin' cold it is out there.

We examine the intricate patterns of snowflake-like ice crystals on the inside of our windows.




We enjoy the sight of sunshine and snow drift patterns from indoors.




Cuz I'm not Elsa and cannot stand to be frozen.

Anyway, back to writing. Some people get a high from drinking, eating, watching movies, or playing sports. While I "get" such examples of euphoria, I get my high from writing--getting my thoughts into words, communicating via a coherent essay, and making a point using words and a few photos along the way. It is my fuel, my warmth. If I go for too long without it, I'd be like an un-hatchable egg, an un-proofable bread dough, or a barely warm-blooded being in the arctic cold that doesn't stand a chance. Oh, right; that last one about sums up what we're all going through, right here, right now.

So, I'll take my lack of writing inspiration by its dead lightbulb and fight my way through this winter nonsense by just muddling through it. Please bear with me and allow me to share my writing process instead. Cuz I needs me some heat in this frigid cold. 

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I prefer to write in total silence and semi-darkness. No music, no noise--just the quiet taps of the keyboard, accompanied by the sweet aroma of my cuppa Joe or tea. I sit on my swivel chair with my legs curled to one side, or folded, until they go numb and I must straighten them out to allow blood flow back to my feet again. Then, switch sides, rinse, and repeat. 

Usually by the time I'm sitting at my desk tapping away, I already have a topic and a few photos in mind. But the process of stringing pagefuls of words together is the embodiment of that writing high. It's like letting go of your bowling ball and watching it glide down the lane to knock down the pins. Those seconds between action and result is the sweet path of that high. You don't know how many pins you'll hit or how well you'll score. I don't know for sure exactly which words will appear or how the post will turn out. You hope for the best, and watch the pins fall. I keep tapping and composing until the piece is complete. And the anticipation is intoxicating.




Only instead of seconds it takes me hours.

Oftentimes I halt the fingers and stare off into space, rummaging for that perfect word or phrase. Sometimes I'm successful, while other times that exact word teases me by playing peekaboo with my aging brain. Sometimes I text DH because either he will know exactly which word I urgently need or he will blink cluelessly at his phone wondering if I've gone entirely mad. But I have successfully stayed away from words not belonging to my generation, such as "adorbs" and "amazeballs". High-fiving my forty-year-old self.

The editing part is no less work. It takes more times than you think for me to proofread each post. Even though any post is editable even after it's published, I still feel gutted whenever I spot a mistake. And I do from time to time. I usually save my last proofread hours or even a day after the previous check. A fresh mind does wonders and tells me to take out parts that scream, "What were you thinking???"

To embellish the words, I take pictures. A lot. Sometimes for posts I know I will write. Sometimes I take random pics that just ever so suitably fit into a post. Sometimes the accidental pics work way better than any intentional pics I take. Sometimes the pics practically do all the writing themselves.

Sometimes a post takes a few hours to complete; sometimes it can take several days. Sometimes I force ask DH to read it before I publish, and other times I just do it. Sometimes I compose posts that are bowling strikes, and sometimes I publish gutter balls. Mostly, I've gotten over feeling anxious about writing and wondering what people will think. I now just remind myself that it's much too tiring and entirely not worth the trouble.

Which, for me, is a considerable accomplishment, since it's taken me about two plus years to reach that mindset. Writing will always be an evolving process, hopefully always for the better. And even now, there's still so much more to look forward to. At least I feel like it's right.

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Right now, I'm finishing this post while the kids are home from school, which means no silence and full daylight. But it's been a week and I had to have my fix. It's -3 degrees outside and I needed a small fire for my chilled soul.

My one leg folded underneath me is cold and falling asleep.

Extend. Switch sides. Repeat.


13 comments:

  1. I've been coming up empty lately, too. Let's blame the weather. Or, I'll blame the weather, because, look at you with a whole post here!

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    1. Hi, Shannon! This winter is just dreadful. We can blame EVERYTHING on it. I hope you'll have some inspiration now that the kids are back in school, finally! Stay warm!

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  2. What great pictures of your son bowling! I love this look into your writing process, Sandra. It's so interesting to see similarities and differences, I love writing in partial darkness, but I hate silence-I always have music on when I'm on the computer.

    Hopefully you will get a break from the cold weather soon. Take care & stay warm!

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    1. Hi, Rachael! I blame the silence thing on my inability to multitask in this area. I can barely listen to classical music when I'm trying to think! My son bowling is quite hilarious. Picture many bounces off the gutter rails... The forecast indicates more snow followed by more cold! I'd rather have the snow than the frigid cold--enough already! Thanks for reading!

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  3. I am an empty shell.
    The vortex is sucking the life out of life.
    You really need a girls day out.
    Hint hint.

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    1. Hi, Kari! I really do need a girls' day. Let's do it--but AFTER this arctic freeze cuz I.JUST.CAN'T. You might be empty, but you're a fully decorated shell! Love your DIY Valentines! :)

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  4. It does look cold there! It must be the season, because I've been light on ideas lately and haven't snapped a photo in weeks. (And it's not all that cold here... no snow for about a month.) I don't blame you for snapping pics from inside :)

    I liked the peek into your writing process. We are so different in that area! I'm usually writing with my laptop in the family room, TV on, husband trying to talk to me. (If I'm holed up in the office, I get him complaining that I'm "always on the computer" so it's just easier to deal with the noise. I try not to break out the laptop until my younger son goes to bed (8PM).

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    1. Can't go out in negative degrees F weather, and there's only so much of the house to take pics of. Sigh. I've just about had it with winter this year. As for writing, I really enjoy the sound of nothing. Maybe that's why I love my writing time. All I hear is the hum of the computer and the tapping of the keyboard. That, and I cannot multitask. If I tried to, I'm sure there'd be typos in every line! Thanks for sharing your process, too, Janna!

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  5. I was just talking to some people yesterday about how BLAH everything is right now and how we're all just in funks where we can't get anything done or have motivation. Apparently we aren't alone. It's real. But hey, at least it's warming up... enough to start snowing like mad.

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    1. Hi, Michelle, I'd much rather the snow than the subzero temps! Today felt so nice it's crazy! But watch me complain after we get dumped with too much snow, by sometime next week. I'm just not a winter person. Especially not this winter. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Definitely understand what you mean about having nothing to write about. I used to ask a lot of parenting questions on my blog but I feel like we don't have so many of those questions anymore. Either we're just gonna figure it out ourselves and it doesn't seem like a big deal, or we're not even worried anymore. Second-time parenting syndrome, ya know :P. I love how the bowling photo just fit-in with the post! Did the photo come before the words or vice versa? When you wrote, "Which, for me, is considerable accomplishment, since it's taken me about two plus years to reach that mindset" -- I think you've already found "freedom" in your writing, even though it was one of your goals for 2014. I really enjoyed stepping through your process when writing a post. You certainly take more time than I do, and prolly have less (fewer?) mistakes than I do :).

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    1. Hi, Lisa! We had gone bowling just before the post, and I noticed that bowlers *had* to wait several seconds to see the result, and it just seems to take forever (even longer for DS since he's not strong enough to throw fast balls!). That's where the pics came from. As for taking time to write, yeah, I'm really AR that way. I'm not time efficient, but I think so long as I enjoy the process, then it's all good. I think you'll continue to ask questions for your first-born as he reaches different developmental stages, but yeah, the little one will just cruise by the seat of your prior knowledge. :) She'll be great, and so will you and hubs.

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  7. It's so (not) funny, because I revel in the snow. In fact, I do not care one bit that we got another half foot of it yesterday. I love it, love it, love it! And I don't mind one bit going out in the cold to play in it!

    What do I hate hate hate? The super,Artic, painful cold. It stunts our growth, our ability to speak coherently, our ability to smile (or scowl) at our neighbors, our ability to walk our dogs or tend to our yards. It's sooooo stifling that it sucks the life right out of us. I don't blame you one bit for finding yourself at a loss for words. I have found myself at a loss for taking photographs since the beginning of the year. C'mon March; it surely has to get better, right???

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