Sunday, April 01, 2007

the gods are whispering about me (and not in a good way)


So, the fingers' ire is soothed somewhat, after a morning knitting class. No, not crochet. The class falsely advertised knitting or crocheting, but was knitting only. So, oh well. Take what you can get, fingers! Here I am "in action"--
So, that was part of my Saturday brain rehabilitation project, after many straight days of all-day writing. Post-knitting I went to see an exceedingly stupid movie with Alexandra and my mom (Blades of Glory) -- Alexandra fairly wheedled to see it; she does love a goofball movie. As an antidote to the lowbrow humor and glimpsing Will Ferrell's troublesome midriff, I watched Lord of the Rings last night at home, while. . . yes, knitting.

Gandalf: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!
Laini: knit one, purl two

Okay, okay, so more like: knit, knit, knit -- I don't know how to purl yet. That's next week. But enough about knitting. More about brain rehabilitation.

You writers will so know what I mean when I say there is a chasm, a huge emotional trench that separates a good writing day from a bad one. On a good writing day, or better yet, a string of them, it's like orchestras playing sunsets up the sky, and a pantheon of gods looking down in benevolent approval. You can almost hear them whispering amongst themselves about you, reading passages aloud from your work in progress and, you know, marveling at them. A bad day? That is, a day in which a little seed germinates and grows a shoot of "Oh God, my book is boring," or "Oh, frick. Where do I go from here?" in your brain? Days like that give you cut-puppet-string posture. Days like that make you desperate for the other kind of days, eager to get the gods whispering about you again, in a good way, not a pathetic way.

Zeus: Poor Laini. Did you read that last chapter?
Athena: Whew! But she's trying so hard.
Zeus: Don't you think you could, you know, help her out a little?
Athena: Me? That's not my job. Send one of your others daughters, the what-are-they-called? Muses? Yeah. Send them.
Zeus: I did! Nothing's working.
Athena: Poor thing. Maybe she's just used it all up. Maybe she's done.
Zeus: Yeah. Maybe she should take up knitting.

Alright, alright! No, I do not hear gods whispering about me. And I also do not think my book is boring. How can a book be boring when you get to write about vanishings and weird fruit and flying carpets and sea serpents' parasites and caravansarays for dragonflies and jars of baby teeth you can shake like a maraca? When you get to write lines like, "Don't squish my larvae." ?? It's just that I'd been on such a roll, days -- weeks? -- of feeling like I had broken through some barrier in my brain (leaving a person-shaped hole, limbs wildly splayed, like in a cartoon) and found out that actually, despite what I previously believed, writing is easy. It was nice, believing that for a short time -- kind of like believing in the tooth fairy or beneficent government.

But it's not always easy. I'm not one to write straight through a messy first draft. My brain doesn't work like that. I need to write and write, and then reread and reflect and revise, and then continue writing. It's my one step forward, one step back approach. Guaranteed to drive you crazy and make you think you overhear Zeus pitying you. But it's what works for me. So I hit a reflect and revise stretch. It's all part of my process. It makes my brain hurt a little, hence the knitting and the stupid movie: rehab. When I was an editor at Lonely Planet, I used to take the occasional "mental health day," and that's what this was.

Now I'm back to work (or will be once I finish blogging!) and determined to squirm my way back to the 'writing-while-the-gods-and-woodland-creatures-beam-at-me-with-their-big-manga-eyes' stage. Because DAMN if that isn't just the best thing ever!

16 comments:

Alexandra S said...

I have never ever read anything boring by you in all the years I have known you Fatty and that is the truth of truths! Jim just told me that you have been knitting away. I hung my head in shame because I left my little tangle of yarn in the car and haven't glanced at it once since leaving the shop! (but by next Saturday I am going to leave you in the dust of your knitting failures as I arrive with a scarf that can stretch down Burnside from 23rd to the bridge-just you wait.)

Frida said...

You know we have the same days in human rights work - the days when you get the christian convert safely out of the country ("yah!" the gods cheer, for they are very open minded and keen on religious freedom, they all must have their turn at being worshiped) and the days when every call you make leads to a dead end and you are quite sure that the deities are wishing you would move on and let someone more competent do their work for them.

I've read a little of your writing and it it all brilliant, really, I'm not just being polite, oh no - not polite, not me.

I hope you get your hoop rolling again and I CANT wait to curl up with "Blackbringer". I have a strong feeling that I'm about to discover a new role model/ heroine!

xx

Kristy said...

Uh Oh. She's picked up the knitting needles (and I, for one, am so glad it wasn't a crochet hook...). Welcome to the dark side. ;-)

K

Amber said...

So the gods were talking about YOU? I thought it was me... except it'd be more like:

Zeus: What is she DOING? That's not writing. That's just typing out letters and stringing words together.

I'm excited because tonight two of my writing friends and I are getting together at a tiny little bookstore that just so happens to be attached to a Pannikin cafe. Yum! We'll be doing a bit of Birthday Prompt Writing (it's a surprise for one of the girls). I'm crossing my fingers that it'll bring me in better graces with Zeus' fine and frilly daughters. (Don't the Muses wear purple and light green? They should...)

Jamie said...

My sister and I learned to knit together this winter. Ever since I don't think I've watched a movie at home without knitting! (including LOTR too hehe) So far it's all scarves and cat blankets :)

Here's to the gods and their creatures smiling on you with joy and the sun beaming down on you with love. Write away!

Mardougrrl said...

I don't think you COULD be boring, even if you tried. So there.

I know what you mean about the bad writing days, though. Lately, I just long to cheat on my novel with, well, anything! Old novel, new short stories, SS, blog, anything but that...novel. LOL. I wonder why that is?

tinker said...

I don't know about the gods, but I don't think I could find your writing ever boring - nor do I see how even the most jaded of the gods could find your weird fruit, caravansarays for dragonflies and characters who warn you not to squish their larvae anything less than fascinating! Sounds like you've been running full steam ahead though, for quite a spell. To completely switch metaphors midstream, even the best marathon runners have to take a break in between races...Hope your fingers are happy with the knitting!

Left-handed Trees... said...

When we met in New York, I don't think I mentioned it...but the scarf/wrap I was wearing was handknitted by little old me as I unraveled some snagged writing ideas (and tried to heal from my nasty health issues of '06). I am now an advanced-beginner (but still a beginner) with knitting...but I have problem with always being seduced by the next possible project (sounds more than a little like my writing as well!!!) I hope you find your stride with both the needles and the words...
Love,
Delia

Left-handed Trees... said...

Oh, I KNEW we should have gone to the exhibit of "Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting" at the Museum of Art and Design that day--think of how that would be influencing you now! ;)

Sijbrich said...

I love that you were knitting while watching a movie. Anytime I sit down in front of the TV, I have to have knitting needles in hand. It makes me justify watching TV, since I am technically doing something productive at the same time.:-)

You were an editor for Lonely Planet?! LP is definitely my preferred choice of travel guide and I've used several of them for different parts of the world and never been disappointed. LP Italy has been my "bible" for the last 2 months and is getting lots of use. Which one did you edit?

I'll try to send some good vibes your way to help get you back to writing.

Bug said...

Good luck! I know that chasm all too well! And have fun with the knitting. It's so great, when it's not really frustrating. Much like writing!

Amber said...

No, no. I thought they were talking about me! Only they said something like, "Do you think she knows she has that sticker stuck on her butt? Do you think we should tell her before she runs into her ex-boyfriend over there?...Yeah.Lets leave it. Too funny!"
(true story. happened yesterday.Pft!)

You can DO IT Laini! We can't wait to read it.

:)

melba said...

I love that you keep this blog...you let me in and See what your life is like as a writer. You do it so well. Both the writing and revealing. Thank You.

And I LOVED the pictures of your home. Inspiring!
XO,
melba

liz elayne said...

ah yes...the love affair with yarn begins. i am having one myself, especially after being inspired by alicia's posts. i want to make a ripple blanket...
so far, crocheting is my favorite because it is so easy to just unravel and start again if you mess something up. however, i find knitting to be so meditative...
love them both!
(sidenote: jon and i are thinking of coming to portland the weekend after next. i hope we can see you guys. email to follow :))

la vie en rose said...

what a great post lainie! you had me laughing through the whole thing...

ceanandjen said...

So glad that you got that mental rehabilitation day, because lords knows they are imperative at some point. And enjoy that knitting, and I can't wait to see what you create.