5/27/2008

Now for the Real Post

Animal Kingdom trauma aside (see prior post), and crazy aunt trauma aside as well (see prior-prior post), it was a pretty good weekend. Movies on Saturday, Mass (we got to sing God Bless America!) and cookout on Sunday, and yesterday. . . yesterday was just the kind of day I needed.

I upgraded my cable a week ago, and I have some free movie channels for a while. So I got to watch an entire movie in the morning. It was O.K., but the most enjoyable part was that I could just sit there eating my breakfast, watching it.

In the afternoon, my mom called and said my parents' backyard was available if I wanted to sit in the sunshine and read. Yes. They still had Sunday's paper, so I sat there devouring it for a while. They went to their friends' house for a cookout, and I was welcome to help make a dent in Mt. Macaroni Salad. Which I did, happily, along with some leftover deviled eggs, baked beans, and a glass of wine. I live about a mile and a half from my parents, so it's not as if I have to rush to get home. Then I played with my sister's cat, and kept an eye on my late great-aunt's cat who is sixteen (!) and is the only cat with outdoor privileges. She likes to sleep on the bench on my parents' front porch, because it is warm and probably feels good to her little arthritic bones.

When I got home, I put on a small pot of coffee and got to do the only thing I'd actually planned for the day: work on my novel. The novel I started at age fifteen (first in my head, then transcribed to a used Apple IIe), completed the initial draft my freshman year of college (age 18, Mac LCII), and have been polishing on and off for years (iMac G3 from 1997). I haven't done much writing, just making notes for adding and revising, for way too long. It was time to just do it.

It wound up being a bit of a bender. I was up until 2 a.m., because I couldn't work on just one section. I had to look over the whole thing. At one point, for no apparent reason, the power supply cut out. It was too late to scream my head off, so I calmly unplugged the power cord and plugged it back in. Hit the power button. It started up fine and gave me the OS9 smiley face. I wish I'd hit "save" more recently, but what I'd lost was still fresh in my mind.

It's somewhat emotional for me to work on. I started it as an isolated, lonely, depressed, insomniac teenager. Now that my food allergies are under control, all that's with me these days is a little isolation, so to be honest, it has been hard to get into that strongly focused of a writing frame of mind. There's no question that being stressed out at work, working on the computer all day and being online for school at night all have a negative impact as well. (Interestingly enough, I know I am relaxed when I wake up in the morning and I'm thinking about writing.)

In any event, I got into it last night. And I love reading what I've written and taking an honest look to revise what doesn't work. I did, after all, write some of it when I was a teen. (Although it is surprising how a lot of the stuff the teenage me wrote still stands.) Maybe tiredness was making me emotional, but I read over a part that I had written relatively recently--a difficult conversation between the two main characters, fighting against circumstances that threaten to separate them--and my chest tightened as my mind's eye went over the words and felt the confusion, the perceived betrayal, the sorrow. I thought I could hear the one character's sobs.

I know, I know--it's probably just a signal to shut the computer down and go to bed. Or is it? This story and these characters have been with me so long that I find it's easier sometimes to put myself into the POV character's shoes and just let the story play out in my head with plans to write it down later. I seem to recall learning in high school about authors who based characters on themselves, or even split aspects of their personalities among more than one. F. Scott Fitzgerald comes to mind. I would not be surprised if either of both of my main characters turn out to be a lot like myself, or what I think I am like. How I want people to understand me. In a way I think I might have been one as a teen, and now that time has passed I see myself more in the other. The weird thing is, one is male and one is female--and they love each other. If that says anything about me maybe it's my struggle for self-acceptance.

It was a satisfying, well spent chunk of time, and I plan to get back in front of the iMac more often from now on. This could be the year I finish the novel for good.

And there's a half-started sequel as well.

9 comments:

Lizzie said...

Here's to this being the year! It's so nice that it makes you so content - that's actually the best part. :)

Mr. Bingley said...

It brought a tear to my eye reading that magic phrase "OS9". :)

Ashley said...

You sure are devoted to Apple!! :)

Sounds like writing is very theraputic for you. You're blessed to realize that, I think. And to have something that you enjoy so much.

Lindsay said...

Dearest Kate,

Thank you for the congratulations! I appreciate it. :o)

Kate P said...

Lizzie--thank you! I can't believe how blind I was to the fact that it *does* consistently provide me a lot of contentment. This is a long overdue recommitment.

Bingley--honest? You're not laughing at my antiquated machine? I tried to upgrade to OSX but there were some files I lacked/couldn't find and didn't care to download. Support issues forced me to go to a Windows laptop for school, but for the serious business of writing it's the Mac. Runs great for my purposes. The only drag is my printer's down and I have no idea how to get it fixed!

Ashley--they got me hooked on both of those things in high school. ;) Now, if I could just convince other people they enjoy my writing so much that they'd pay for it.

Lindsay--hi!!! You're welcome; I'm glad to see my rantings about grad school haven't made you change your mind, ha ha.

Mr. Bingley said...

No, not at all!

I have about the house the following:
-an iBook (G4) circa 2005 OSX which is surgically attached to my Bride
-an iMac (g5) circa 2004 OSX which is the main Bingley machine
-a PowerMac G3 450 circa 1999 which I upgraded to a 900mhz G3 OSX which is Daughter's machine
and older machines that my Bride wants me to get rid of but I keep around and use occasionally just because:
- a Performa 631CD which we bought in 1994, running 9
- an LCIII running 7
-and the computer that gets the most use of these older ones, an SE that my Bride bought in 1988 running system 6

So yeah, I'm a little bit of a Mac goober. I've bought a bunch of old macs over the years on eBay for dirt cheap and played around with them, occasionally making something very useful out of them.

Mr. Bingley said...

Oh, and I forgot my Cube! I love that thing. And it runs both OSX and 9, which is handy.

nightfly said...

Excellent! It's wonderful to come across something one wrote years ago and say, "Hm, this is actually not sucking."

Kate P said...

Bingley--Oh, what you did to the Classic! That was the first Mac I ever used, in high school (the one that hooked me). There probably was at least one classmate who wanted to find a way to get booze out of one. You even have a Cube? Awesome.

'Fly--I really do have these "Did I write that?" moments. Case in point: I feel guilty for laughing at my own humor but I'm so surprised sometimes.