Nothin’ That a Mountain Can’t Cure!
by Debra Chappell
Weather today: Sunny, breezy, and mild
View from the front porch (at ‘the cabin’):
Mood Reading: Pre-exertion – ZZ
Apres-exertion – ZZZ and a half.
(5 Z’s is feeling mighty fine!)
Okay, I admit it – I’ve been in “creative avoidance” mode for almost a week now. I’m not quite sure how I got here but it has definitely settled in. I think it started when I sent the first 5 Chapters of the book back to my editor for her final review. She’s had some other deadlines she’s been working against, so her final edit of this portion is still in the works. I can’t really proceed with the next chapters until she has a chance to go through those as well, so I’ve more or less been sitting on my hands for the past few days…and they seem to be growing roots!
There are so many things I shoulda (and coulda) been doing, but have had a hard time getting motivated. Checking my e-mail more than I’d like to admit is driving me crazy and even coming up with a subject to blog about has been drawing a blank. I briefly entertained the idea of posting my proposed dinner menu for the week, but thought better of it – you can thank me later. And to be honest, the mere thought of that sent me further into my state of despair – this isn’t Twitter after all! I’ve never had a hard time finding topics to discuss, as my husband can attest to, and even if not very articulate, can usually find something to yammer on about.
So, after almost a week of non-inspiration and absolute slacking – I decided I needed a change of scenery. I drove up to our mountain cabin yesterday to see if the fresh air and pine scent would jar loose some brain cells. I don’t know why, but there is something about being in the mountains that energizes me and restores my sense of optimism. It’s an exhilarating feeling of self-reliance and independence, probably induced in large part by sheer physical exertion, increased oxygen intake, and a few too many cups of French pressed coffee. The fact that I have to get off my butt up here, in and of itself is stimulating and gives me a sense (no matter how false) of productivity. They say (just who “they” are, I couldn’t tell you) that physical exercise opens the blood vessels in your mind as well as your body, and judging from my own experience this morning, “they” must be right. I’m giving them the credit in any case – this morning I stripped all the beds, shoveled off the remaining snow from the front deck, brought in several loads of wood, and walked into town for the morning paper and back – and already feel like a new woman! (Hear me roar etc. etc.) It must have done the trick cause I’m back and actually typing away and it’s not yet 11:30am!!
So…getting back to the reason for my voluntary exile, these first five chapters of the book, to my mind at least, are crucial. This is where I want to grab the readers, set up the story, and launch them immediately into the thick of things. I realize this may not be the way heavy, deep, and complicated literary sagas are constructed – where it takes many, many chapters just to introduce all the characters and lay the intricate groundwork, and you may be surprised or even shocked to learn that mine is not of that intellectually demanding genre. Alas, delayed gratification (or abiding patience) has never been my strong suit. I’m not the type to slog though the first 50 pages of anything, no matter how well reviewed, if it hasn’t distracted me enough to put off my chores and put on a pot of coffee by say, page 29. And if anyone even suggests I read this or that with the preamble “just stick with it, it gets better,” it for sure will be tossed immediately on top of the growing heap I’m saving for the winter from hell, or the post-op from a hysterectomy I hope I will never need, whichever comes first.
No, I wanted my book to be of the type a reader can open up, jump into right away and be off and running… without Wellington boots necessary to wade through the first 15 chapters. So at the behest of my editor, I ended up revising, re-writing some scenes, sharpening some dialogue, and re-arranging some of the events to hopefully do just that. Now I just have to wait to see from her if my changes accomplish that desired result.
So hopefully, this little respite at “the cabin” will restore me to my daily routine which has been (until a few days ago at least) to get up early, start writing, take a break around mid-day to take the dog for a run and grab a quick bite, and then settle in at the kitchen counter for the remainder of the afternoon. If I’m really on a roll, the hubby will come home and start dinner, which is a great incentive to keep my nose to the keyboard long after the creative juices have dried up and the chicken curry is just about ready! Sometimes I’ve been so absorbed in my imaginary world that the midday break gets pushed back to late afternoon, at which point the dog plants herself at my feet with that pleading look she knows I can’t refuse. To me, that’s the place that feels the best, and the one I’m eager to return to. Perhaps just these few paragraphs I’ve written already this morning will help me on my way. It’s better than that damned dinner menu I was going to post in any case!