Today was left-handed day. Right handed, I used my left hand as my strong, dominant hand as much as I can today. Brushing teeth with the electric toothbrush causes me my greatest challenge. Mousing isn't difficult, except the mouse is shaped to fit my right hand, with a sculpted cut-out for my thumb.
Left handed day began back in the late 80s, when I broke my left wrist. Everyone congratulated me on my good fortune because it wasn't my right hand. But what if it had been? So I trained myself to use my left hand. Now I do it once in a while just to make my neurons work differently. It's like reversing the order of showering and shaving, or do other things to break out of habits and routines so I think about them and rotate them back to conscious practice and behavior.
Today's writing day was frustrating. I have five stories out and sort of took a mental pause to think, when will I hear something? Will anything be published? How much does that matter? I wrote the stories, then sought publication. I'll continue writing. I don't think it's something that I can turn off. I think if I tried, the Writer that resides in my head would start banging on the back of my eyeballs for my attention.
Thinking about being published or not preoccupied me more than I should let it. Working on my novel was sour sloughing so I turned to the short story. I didn't have an ending in mind yet but tried a path, spending an hour and a half this evening and typing six hundred words before realizing, that's not it. Ain't working, brother. After deleting that, I thought, I'll just write until 10 PM, then discovered it was already past ten. Grudgingly, very grudgingly, the Writer agreed to stop for the night. After all, his eyes feel strained and his neck hurts.
None of it is wasted time or effort. Working on the novel, I reminded myself that patience must be practiced. The novel takes time and discipline. I had just read a review of Rushdie's latest, "Joseph Anton." Here he was, writing while under death threat. Talk about pressure, but he wrote and published. he perservered. I need to remember that, to keep going, to perservere.
With the short story, I tried a direction and recognized it wasn't the right direction and caught a glimpse of the correct, hidden path. So the progress was mental and emotional, and not much in the sense of tangible progress.
Yet, that thinking about what's working and what isn't is part of writing. Maybe it's the hardest part. Why doesn't something work? How do you find the distance to see it and chart corrections? That's a process that I'm still learning. I don't think there will ever be one set process for me. I think each story is as individual as people. What works with one might not work with another story. It might even be a danger if the same process always works, no matter what the story.
I don't know. Maybe I'm writing out of my ass. There's a good chance I am. I'm a struggling fiction writer. Sometimes writing out of my ass is all I do.
Although, you know, when you think about that expression, it's pretty strange.... I remember the first time I understood it, when someone said someone else had pulled an answer out of their ass. That delighted me. Really, it's magic -- or trickery. Either way, it sounds apropos for fiction writing.
Until tomorrow. It's another opportunity tomorrow.
And I'll be back to my right hand.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com