Friday, March 23, 2012

The Long Hiatus Known as Winter (in review)

It's Friday, it's raining again, but at least a bit warmer than the last time. Or at least I think so.

We get the first day of spring off in this country, maybe because you are supposed to visit your ancestors on the first day of spring (I just learned). Whatever the reason, I think having the equinox off is an excellent practice. The better to celebrate.

Winter is all about the holding pattern, post Cambodia, it was a fairly happy or at least nonchalant cycle of work, reading, writing, various exercise, and housekeeping. It was like an endless ongoing movement of maintenance. Keep on trucking. Every week was not the same, but the entire season seemed to fall into a pattern of total sameness. Maybe you'll go swimming today or tomorrow, maybe you'll feel too puny. Maybe you'll buy more kerosene, maybe you'll cook something. Maybe there will be a get-together this weekend, maybe you'll be social by hanging out with one or two people, maybe you won't see anyone and will just indulge yourself in reading/the internet/pretending to do chores. Maybe you'll make coffee, maybe you'll avoid it because it's bad for circulation and your toes are freezing off. Maybe you'll go to kempo and rock it, maybe you'll go and suck, maybe you won't go.

If anything changed this winter, it was a change that felt built-in right away, and was in many cases a resumption of something old. I took up working on that novel again. I moved up a little on the coffee snob scale, because I started hanging out at Rocky just like I always thought it would be nice to hang out in a coffeeshop and 'write.' (Then I started buying coffee [at Rocky] and making it at home. I had a coffeepot for two years and used it twice [then sold it], and now I can't stop pressing myself cups of the stuff -- luckily I just got ahold of decaf, so now it's on day and night, and guilt-free for the circulation issues). I started swimming more frequently. I didn't exactly feel like I had all kinds of time to waste because I was spending all my time doing all these maintenance or resumption things.

Lately, I swim less often, partly because I wrenched out my shoulder on the only ski trip we took this year. I still go occasionally, and rent a kickboard so I can gimp along. I've also stalled on the writing, as I will now confide. The irony is that it happened because of something I did to help myself along in that department sadly backfiring. I had some comments on the first part of the thing, and someone referred to the George R. Martin series A Song of Ice and Fire to sort of compare how I used a bunch of different POV throughout the story. I had heard about the series before, and had seen one episode of it on HBO at Sagramore's (the episode with ALL the spoilers), so I kindled up a four volume set and stared in on it, telling myself it would be instructive and help my writing.

The first few chapters were okay, but once I was sunk into it, it built a nice ice wall between me and my ability to write or even edit my story. It was good. And that was a problem, not because I was so absorbed I no longer had time to do any writing (that is always and never true of life, rather than any book), but because as I read on I get the distinct impression that my story is nothing like this story.

I could never have written this story.

But I like this story, and that's a problem because suddenly all I can see is everything that this story has that my story lacks, everything I like about this book I'm reading that is glaringly absent from the one I'm writing.

An' lemme tell you, that shit'll stop your pen. Writer's block is and has always been a failure of confidence, maybe.

I'm sweet-talking myself back into it, of course. I've begun to find things I don't like about it, as a sort of salve. And I've also tried to explain to the little kid version of myself currently throwing an I-don't-wanna-play-anymore tantrum that, well of course you could never have written this story, it's not yours, you weren't supposed to, it's about a totally different thing, has a totally different appeal.

At first I was confused, because this is not by far the first good book I've read since I began working again on the writing. I've read a bunch of really good things, strong works, classics, award-winners. But I realized, they were all of some other genre, they were all something else. So I'm working my way back to a place where I can like this one and still make that one, different.

We recently set the date of my black belt (!) test, for early June, which set me off into a mental tangent about Shannon (while the June connection is obvious, if you can't see why Shannon and getting my black belt are related, I can't really explain it.. they aren't, and yet for some reason they are), which caused me to have a Shannon dream, which made me decide to resume my pilgrimage on March 20th after its long hiatus known as Winter.

The first temple of the season was Ichijo-ji, stop number 26 on the original route, and the second-closest temple to where I live.

I think I'll post that as a separate entry, because I don't have the photos ready yet anyway!

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