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.