Monday, January 29, 2018

Writing Retreat- Imagined and Reality

My Beloved is gone until Friday, and as much as I’ll miss him, I fantasize about how I’ll structure my days and, mostly, my evenings. I got some yoga in this morning, had pesto on my egg sandwich, and drank a large green tea with Stevia in lieu of the usual coffee and half & half. It will be a complete day for me if I can get at least an hour of writing time in after work.  

            I’ve submitted a sample chapter for a non-fiction project that may or may not take flight. In the meantime, there’s always something else brewing. I’ve got some new notes regarding the Ziegfeld poems, and a stack of books center stage on my desk, waiting for the pages to be opened once again. And the memoir I put on pause last summer is coming back to me in a new voice, a freer flow that will benefit from the hundred or so pages I’ve already written. So far, the majority of my memoir work has also included research. I’ve felt compelled to pin down exact dates, details, locations. That’s all been fine, but it has slowed the actual writing, and reduced the pace of work to a crawl.  

            Memoirs are subjective. History is written by the survivors. No one has access to the data bank of events and details that I do. Therefore, no critique on that basis will be possible. Research, in the form of old letters and journals, has changed the tone of the narrative. I believe my brain, like all our brains I suspect, rewrote the story so that I could live with it. The journals tell a slightly different story. Players I’d remembered so glowingly have become more complex. Villains (for what is a memoir without some sort of villain) soften and sharpen all at once. I see myself as the anxious parent now of my younger self. To write without judgment is a challenge. I vacillate between my regular snarkiness and objective journalism.  

            Up to this point, I’ve also been writing in longhand. I hope to sit down at the laptop and type. The process is different, and so is the result, but I’m interested in the speed, easing the flow of words a bit. After the fact, I can be more objective about what’s been written when it’s typed, like I’m editing somebody else’s work.  

            Of course, I’ve spent most of my work day listing excuses about why I can’t go to the gym after work. I’m an expert at that. None of them carry much weight though (unlike me), so I’ll get there today. And it’s not like I’m forbidden to write when my Beloved is home. I just make the easy choice of enjoying his company. Not enough hours for both. So today, after the gym, I’ll head home, make another cup of tea, and hopefully settle in for a solid hour of writing something. And Day Two of my self-designated ‘Writers Retreat’ will start again tomorrow night.

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