Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Inching along

I've always been an artist and writer who works best in the evenings. To me, digging into a story or sketch at 7pm was perfect. I'd work out what I was going to do then have it cooking in my mind as I made dinner and returned to it after I'd eaten and watched the evening news. I never was big on watching a lot of TV -- though I did follow "Friends" and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" almost religiously -- so I'd have until about 10 pm to work and still be able to slow my mind down enough to where I could go to sleep about 1am.

But something I hadn't really noticed was, I used the rest of the day to gear my mind up to this. I'd read the paper, check news blogs and do research and even just run errands. Even while mom was living with me in LA (for 7 1/2 years) I was able to keep this schedule because I got off from Heritage at 5:30, would have her fed and settled into her room (where I'd set up a TV at the foot of her bed and she could sort through the paperwork in her dozens of boxes and channel-surf to her heart's content) and I'd be rested enough to get going. And when she moved back to San Antonio and I had my life to myself, again, it worked out even better. I even joined a gym and would exercise 2-3 times a week after I got off work. And when Heritage closed, I moved the writing time up a bit -- to 4pm -- but I still used the day to work my mind and let ideas percolate.

I got into so very steady habits, it seems. Even when I went nuts and worked 12 hours a day writing to get something done (like the storyboards for "Kerosene Cowboys" or a script for a J Morrison Group industrial video), I'd slip back to the same schedule. But I've had a hell of a time doing that here in SA. Because even though I have mom set up in her room with a TV at the foot of her bed, just like in LA, she prefers to sit in a chair she claims to hate in the living room and watch her programs there, and it's brutally distracting. I've tried listening to music via my headphones but that cuts into my concentration and puts a layer of creative noise between me and my thoughts. So unless mom is quiet during the day, and lately (unless it's raining) she's been anything but, I've found I can't get started writing until 9 or 10, when she goes to bed.

So...last night I was able to get only 1300 words input, and then only because I focused on a part where Brendan witnesses an explosion and sees the aftermath, something I'd sketched out in general a few years ago when I was still trying to work out the story in third person. I doubt I'll have a full first draft by the end of the month. Mom and Kelly are in a needy phase, and how they knew to wait till now to start in on their wants and requests...I almost think it's deliberate. They both know what I'm trying to do, I even talked to mom about it, yesterday, as she had me take her to Target and HEB and Walgreen's Pharmacy and U-Haul. Didn't phase her. Because already today, she's come up with one of her, "Can I borrow you for 5 minutes" moments where she wants some things put in the storage room and a shelf attached in her closet so she can put things on it. And like a wimp, I do it.

And in the story, Brendan has grown to despise his mother, but loves her enough to never tell her so. And it feels too right for the story for me to pull back from it, and it leads to a moment I didn't see coming, one of gentleness and grace and outright deception that crystalizes everything.

Y'know, when idiots tell you to write what you know, they usually mean it in too literal a fashion. But I've just seen how it works in the abstract...and it carries a thousand times more meaning for me, here, now. I think I finally understand why I need to tell this story.

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