They say that writer’s write. For the month of January I haven’t been much of a writer. A few blog posts, but quite frankly I feel like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me. 2010 was a year that I embraced turning fifty, reconnected with my literary lusts, diligently posted essays and other musings to my blog “Running Without Toenails” and set out to prove that even at a half of a century, this old gal still had a few surprises up her sleeve. I whispered “Namaste” with yoga guru Rodney Yee, ran the Boston Marathon fast enough to re-qualify, became a poet, a baker, even a speechmaker, hiked and snow-shoed to the first Hut Olympics, and the list goes on. I spent the year entertaining at least myself and when it was all over, I guess I was just tired of clapping and recapping.
It’s not that I haven’t thought about things to write about. As I ramp up my training for my Boston Marathon repeat, I have long runs to compose in my head. For example, during the patter songs of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” the Count disguised as a drunken soldier addresses Dr. Bartolo by all the wrong names. They are perfect pseudonyms for his real character traits (Dr. Buffalo, Dr. Barbarous, and most accurately Dr. Jackass). It made me think about how someone that I was close to in high school was characterized recently as turning into quite a similar personality. I found it hard to believe until I ran into that person myself. Is one always a jackass or is it a learned behavior? I imagined how I would frame the nature vs. nurture debate. I composed an essay in my head on how training for a repeat marathon is much harder than the original due to the ability to anticipate each obstacle and remember how quickly one’s pain threshold erodes, quite exponentially during those last six miles. I would compare it to childbirth, how the romantic ideal vanishes during the throes of pushing and you recall what a stupid idea this was. I thought about writing about songwriter/singer Katie Melua and imagine how she secretly infiltrated my thoughts and crafted them into lyrics that without fail leave me feeling exposed and naked. Or perhaps I would write about my threat to my daughter to enroll in her hip-hop dance class and become the best fifty year-old hip-hopper ever. The horrified look on her face was inspirational.
As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So, if that is true I’m in writer’s hell. I have the writer workshop rejection letters I could file away. I could edit my various submissions and feel the horror as I discover a typo or a grammatical error. But, I think that would just send me further into the arms of the devil. If I’m really looking for redemption, I would pull out my haphazardly composed novel from 2007 NanoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and edit out the caffeine induced digressions and re-craft it without the pressure of a word count deadline. I wrote it as a juvenile novel, for my daughter. Every year she asks if I have finished it and I guiltily make what seem like convincing excuses. Yesterday I received an email from NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month – where you commit to post to your blog every day for a month) reminding me that February only has 28 days and why not try using it to work on the theme “character development.” Yes, that is just what I need. Not only would it possibly improve my own character and earn me a “Get Out of Writer’s Hell Free” card, but perhaps I could post character excerpts from my waylaid novel. I must admit the idea of multi-tasking is highly appealing.
So come February you just may get to read about how dirigibles, La Scala, precocious tweens, pagan rituals, a moonstone and a hand-cranked phonograph ended up in my first novel attempt. And it might just open the gates to purgatory.