A Day of Writing (Day Five)

This year I’m making an extra effort to write a piece everyday (so far, so good!)*. And I’m thinking that anything I probably wouldn’t look to get published in the future, but otherwise enjoy, I’ll stick up on here. So with the preamble over, here’s my piece from Jan 5th:

As I sat down at my desk to write my novel for the fifth time that day, having now reorganised the living room so that it was almost a mirror image of its previous setup, fed the dog, walked the dog, and gone for a nice long shower, I realised that I did not have a cup of tea to drink while I ponder my epic, and that simply would not do. I didn’t even make it back from the kitchen with my tea in hand before I realised that I was actually now quite hungry, and could do with a snack. I decided after opening a pack of crisps and almost sitting down at my desk that I should probably eat something more substantial. That way, I wouldn’t have to get up anytime soon and could focus on my work. I noticed that I didn’t have any bacon, which, despite the fact that my take on a fry-up didn’t actually normally include bacon, meant that I would need to head out to the shops to buy some, since no fry-up is complete without bacon.

Half an hour later I got back from the shop with bacon in-hand, and I made my way past my desk, noting with some distaste that my cup was again absent of tea, and began to cook my fry-up, sans bacon. I sat back down at my desk, naturally, in case while eating I had any ideas that I would risk losing forever if they weren’t committed to paper immediately, and ate my well-deserved food with gusto. I reflected that it had been a most productive day so far, and while I hadn’t yet actually written anything, I had gotten a lot of things done. Because I’m not an animal, I got up and washed up my plate, cutlery, the frying pan and assorted cooking utensils from my fry-up, and on my way back to the desk realised that I’d not made the tea I planned to have with food, so scooped up my cup and rectified that little blunder. I took the time to read a few chapters of the new Stephen King novel I’d been reading, since it never hurts to read when you’re short of inspiration, because as Mr. King himself once wrote: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Suddenly it dawned on me as I booted my computer in case I needed to do any research for the piece I was going to be working on– the wash tub was full to bursting with clothes that needed washing. What would I do if I ran out of clothes to wear in the days that would follow? That would be embarrassing beyond belief. So I finished my tea, popped a colour wash on, sat down and was about to get comfortable when I realised that prior to putting the wash on, I’d finished my tea. Shortly after, with another tea in hand, I finally, finally, sat down to write only to come to the conclusion that I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I wanted to write today. And looking at the clock, I only had two hours before my girlfriend would get home from work, and my workday would sadly come to a screeching halt.

So in an effort to dredge up some emergency inspiration, I made my way to the bookshelf where I kept my array of notebooks with several pages filled in each (each notebook being for a different subject or sequence of potential stories, of course), and brought roughly all of them over to my desk, where I began to flick through them, cross referencing where needed with various wikis and generally fleshing out timelines and tables and genealogies for no story in particular, but rather several, thus massively improving my productivity for the day even further. I hear the beep of the washing machine in the other room. A procrastinating kind of person would put it on a spin cycle or two, but I like to keep on top of these things, so I immediately jump up and put the washing out on the line in the garden. Once again on my return I realise that I’ve found myself yet again in a situation where my cup is empty and make a tea before sitting back down and finding myself with a mere half an hour before my girlfriend gets home. I wonder how much writing I’m really going to manage with what’s left of the day and briefly consider doing something hitherto unheard of and sacking it off entirely. After all, wouldn’t it be nice for her to get home and dinner already be on the go? Ready to serve, even? I flick through another notebook or two before realising two things: I’m out of tea, and I have an idea for my masterpiece. But, not having the time left in the day to make another tea, I push on with my writing, as prepared to write as I have ever been.

And so I begin: “Once–”

My phone rings, it’s my girlfriend, and of course I answer, because I didn’t grow up in a cave.

“Heya, I just wanted to let you know I got out early and am just round the corner. Could you stick the kettle on?”

Ah well, I thought to myself. I’d just have to pick this up again tomorrow. Phew, it had been a busy day.

Well, I feel personally attacked. By myself. This admittedly quite short piece (because ironically I couldn’t think of other ways to procrastinate on short notice) came out of the Writing Excuses writing prompt “Write a story about something unusual stopping a novelist from finishing his or her book”, and when I started writing, I had an entirely different story in mind with the title “A Bottle of Milk and a Pack of Smokes”. It would have opened more or less the same up until just after the fry-up bit, but would have followed on to the protagonist finding his thoughts drifting to his absent father who had gone out for a bottle of milk and a pack of smokes two decades ago and never returned. As he snaps out of his thoughts and puts pen to paper, there’s a knock at the door, and it’s his father, looking exactly the same as he had some twenty years before with a sword strapped over his back. The story would end with “Son, you’re never going to believe where I’ve been”. Well, I guess I won’t be getting any writing done today after all. But no, instead the villain of the story is just procrastination itself, or perhaps self-sabotage. Neither of which are traits I embody in any way whatsoever, and this absolutely isn’t just a fictionalised retelling of the events of pretty much every weekend that my girlfriend has ever worked ever.

*It did not last.

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