Early winter, I was staring down a lengthy rehab assignment, following rotator cuff surgery. As such, I was limited in work and workouts.
Teaching was feasible, but not in such pain. And the effort to tote my myriad number of bags up and down stairs loomed large. I would have provided little inspiration to any student who sat in my circle.
Workouts too went by the wayside, other than yoga. I became not really a student of yoga so much as schooling myself in who were my favorite yogis, most of that education based on what time the classes were held, and which ones did not interfere with therapy.
Thus, I did what I had to do. I wrote.
At some point, I had read that Faulkner or Hemingway, one of those drinking and writing giants, wrote 1,000 words a day. I had ample days to do so, and felt like, if anything could wake up my lazy shoulder, which was not rehabbing as it should, it would be the pounding of my fingertips on keyboard keys and the blood flow being urged back up the arm, to the shoulder, where healing most needed to happen.
My rehab time was often spent listening to audio books or podcasts, about writing, or thinking about writing. I had known, in my heart, the general direction I would take any new novel I embarked upon, and those audio recordings fed my fire until at last, I sat, and explosion occurred on page, and I wrote the first 1000 words.
Ask any high school student (Son) and he will confirm that 1000 words is arduous, torturous, and downright dumb. One might say the same if one were attempting to fly 1000 miles solo for the first time. But once autopilot kicks in, 1000 miles or 1000 words are a breeze. It was as if I had a tailwind, the full length of the journey towards 50,000.
50,000 words were my target based on – nothing though I knew National Novel Writing Month’s goal is 50,000 so that tempted me. I like to push the limits and figured I would align my conclusion of rehab with the completion of a first draft.
When I was about 5,000 words in, I shared my secret at the dinner table with Husband and Son. “What’s it about?” they asked in unison.
“I can’t talk about it.”
Husband replied, “You mean, it’s like Voldemort. It’s the novel that shall not be named.”
I said with certitude, “Its exactly like that.”
Both males rolled their eyes, knowing I would hold fast to the mystery.
I went on to finish rehab and a first draft mid-April and still had not shared the concept, though I had already written the book description, a.k.a., the elevator pitch. One day this past June, Husband and I sat lakeside, just us two.
I pulled out an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, with three paragraphs on it and handed it to Husband to read. When he looked up, there was no need for words. We exchanged a knowing glance about the subject matter and motivation.
I have since shared the description with one other woman who is in Japan, and won’t tell a soul. She is a writing sister, who is also a writing soulmate, if that makes any sense. And a few chapters have been read in small group at WWfaC.
I sit here this afternoon, a summer rain tapping louder than my fingers on a keyboard, having completed another draft. I still won’t give out the name, though t.n.t.s.n.b.n. has already been titled. The novel was titled long before I started writing it, which is how I write best. One phrase, one line is usually my first seed.
In the end, the title and number of drafts won’t matter, (I lost count after six on I’ll Be in the Car). What will matter is the quality of the work, the impact of the story, and completion of a goal. Nine months ago, I had giving up writing. I hadn’t been able to locate my writing voice, lost amongst other competing voices inside my head.
My next step will be to buy another ream of paper to print out the novel, (sorry trees, I do recycle), so I can read it front to back on my tiled patio, in the waning days of the summer winds, with a glass or bottle or two of rose in hand.
As Mom said, when our family was discussing highs and lows following dinner a few night ago, “A good day is still a very good day.” As much as I cringe at the use of “very” in my writing, a good writing day is a VERY good writing day.