Lockdown: L & L & L & L & L & L

I actually got nearly four and a half hours of good, hard sleep Sunday night, probably because I was so, so tired when I finally crashed at five in the morning. It wasn’t enough, but ah well. The day had begun and it demanded seizing.

I worked on this info sheet that’s been a lot more difficult than I expected. It took far too large a chunk of my day, and it was late and I was annoyed with myself. Normally I’m good at just making up stuff I don’t know, and then I send it to people and they correct me while leaving my organization and structure intact. It’s not a bad way to work when I’m out of my realm. I just didn’t like my organization and structure most of the day. Ultimately (and by this I mean seven in the evening) I just put the headers I had in mind and sentences like “something in here about honoring loved ones” and “quote from UH president or maybe an endowed professor.”

Then the joint proposal for three funds. This was in second draft stages so it was just a lot of slow, tediuous detail-attending-to. I think it came out okay. I can’t decide if the three different voices (three development officers each wrote a part) is cool or if it’s sloppy editing on my part. I mailed it at nine, just in time for the NaNo Skype.

Without the forced structure my days take in response to waking up for sunrise swims, I find myself shifting into vampire mode again. I just didn’t realize it until sometime Monday. I’m trying to get up and get started at my usual time, but I’m working later and getting to bed much later. Can’t keep this up.

The NaNo Skype session was a struggle for me. While the company was great, I mostly let the others hammer out their words while I struggled to stay awake. I decided I needed a break, needed to do a few chores to get my blood flowing and my brain thinking about other things.

I filled the trash bin, mostly, with a lot of stuff that’s been waiting ages to be tossed. Worked on a few other things and finally sat down to write every one of the other had already signed off. One of them (the one Skyping from Korea) signed back in and we kept each other company as we worked. I wrung 1700 words out of my body and called it a night.

This is from Katherine Paterson’s pep talk for NaNoWriMo participants in 2008. I’m surprised I never read this one because she’s one of my favorite.

I live in Barre, Vermont which calls itself the “Granite Capital of the World.” Outside our town are enormous quarries, so when I speak in local schools every child has a mental picture of a granite quarry. “You know how hard it is to get granite out of the quarry,” I say. “You have to carefully score the rock and put the explosive in to make the great granite block break loose from the face of the stone. Then you have to attach the block to the chains so that the cranes can lift it slowly out of the hole and put it on the waiting truck. That’s the first draft. It’s hard, dangerous work, and when you’ve finished, all you’ve really got is a block of stone. But now you have something now to work on. Now you can take your block down to the shed to carve and polish it and turn it into something of beauty. That’s revision.”

But first you’ve got to get that block of granite out of the earth, friends. You won’t have anything to make beautiful until you do that. Now go back to work. That means you too, Katherine.

I thought it was a nice metaphor, but I imagine a block of granite is much neater and cleaner than the stuff I end each November with. You know that floating garbage patch in the Pacific? My 50,000 words are more like that.

This is Kevin Kwan’s pep talk in 2017. It’s not the most inspiring of the pep talks I looked at but it has a couple of good moments.

This is what I did. I went home and turned on my email auto-responder. The next morning, I got up at 7:00am, made a cup of tea, and sat down at my computer. I did not turn on my phone or load my emails. I told myself I would check my messages and emails only after 4:00pm, and even then I would only respond to emergencies. And then I wrote. Or on some bad days, I at least tried to. I wrote and wrote from morning to late at night and paced around my apartment and screamed and cried and laughed and kept on doing it for thirty days straight. I didn’t shave for a month, I did not bathe sometimes for three days in a row, I did not see any of my friends, and I ordered way too much bad Chinese takeout. But at the end of those thirty days I had somehow, miraculously, finished my novel. And I had written far more than I had even intended to—my final draft came in at a little over 140,000 words, and yes, my agent kept her word, found an amazing publisher, and a year later Crazy Rich Asians was published.

I collapsed without putting myself properly to bed, then got up at about three and did it correctly. I think I got four decent hours of sleep before the alarm went off.

I picked up all three meals from L&L for reasons I can’t remember. I had a loco moco for breakfast, then chicken katsu and rice for lunch and dinner. Too much food. I had leftovers.

Sharon texted me to ask for help with some work stuff I couldn’t help her with. It led to some talk about our weekends. Sylvia and I chatted about one of our new coworkers and how crazy Sylvia’s work schedule is. It’s pretty demanding. Vicky and I talked a little more about the product she sells with her MLM. Ali sent me a photo and we chatted a little. Crush Girl and I texted a little about some takeout she had over the weekend. I’ve actually had some takeout from the same place, so we compared notes. Susannah texted to encourage me in the last week of NaNoWriMo. She’s done it, so she knows what it’s like.

Honestly, I can’t wait until it’s over. I’m pleased about producing this work, and I think I have something I can really turn into a novel. But geez I need that time for, ugh. Probably wasting to be honest. Wasting time is restful. Writing a novel is strenuous.

Don’t go through the pandemic without connections. Leave a comment if you need someone.

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