I know, Groundhog Day isn’t until February 2, but it started early for me. In fact, this is me. That is what has happened; I am forming to chair shape. And that is my fork. Sometimes I use it, and sometimes I just use my hands. We need sophisticated musica for this one!
“What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.” From the movie Groundhog Day, which, if you haven’t seen it, you should RUN to get it; it’s wonderful.
Today I thought I would write about what it’s like to be a writer deep in the throes of putting together a book. They always say “write what you know,” and for sure, right now, this is what I know. Most people think that being a writer or an artist is a romantic way to live. You get to work at home; you get to take a blank piece of paper and give it words and color and change it completely so it’s not even just a piece of paper anymore, and you get to make it all up. Like permanently dreaming, or like playing house as a way of life. And it IS a lovely thing to do, a wonderful thing to do. Every morning I come down the stairs, somewhere between three and four o’clock in the morning. I wake up, excited, thinking, “Oh boy, I’m painting Beatrix Potter’s clogs today,” or, “Oh boy, I get to paint a bunny today,” or whatever it is that day. Morning is when I seem to have the easiest time concentrating. Because figuring out what I’m actually going to put on that blank piece of paper requires that I think, and make decisions. I don’t mind the thinking, but I could live without the decision-making. What shall I paint for a border? Does it look good enough? Does it make sense? Is it too little? Too much? Will the girls (that’s you!) like it? I never know for sure. I really don’t. How could I? I rely on faith. And try to write what I want to read. So down the stairs I come, with two little furry creatures leading the way. And, very often, the happy gene has kicked in and I’m singing on the stairs. Which brings me to this quote… Because even I can see that it’s a little pathological to sing on the stairs at 3 am. I’m glad Joe doesn’t like the morning the way I do; I enjoy having all the quiet to myself. Of the two of us, Joe is definitely the normal one. I take him his tea around 7 am and then spend about a half hour shooting the rubber band for Jack so he can leap over Joe and off the bed to chase it and bring it back to me. Girl watches calmly from her blankie in a chair. It’s family time. (although I’ve been asked by Joe to quit referring to him as Jack’s Dad!). Until 7, I have the house to myself; it’s me, the kitties, the hum of the furnace, and the scratch of my pen and this — the morning view at dawn.
I make myself a big cup of tea with honey and half and half; I cut up an apple and put it on a plate; I wrap myself in a shawl; I put one pair of clogs in front of the furnace vent to warm, and later, if my feet get cold, I change shoes and leave the cold ones to warm up. And then I head to my studio, through the dark living room, counting my blessings as I go because it’s so quiet and nice, where I write and paint all day. When Joe gets up, we put on a mountain of clothes, and go for a walk, as long as it is at least 32° and the ground is not icy. We come home, he makes a fire, he cooks us breakfast. I don’t know what I would do without him… he is making me Punxsutawney Pudding for tonight’s dinner (recipe to follow!). I go to my studio — then I blink, and suddenly, the sun has gone down, and another day is gone. Because writing is like playing racquetball. When you play racquetball you don’t think about anything else. You are too busy thinking about the game. Time goes by in a flash. And then it’s bedtime. In between, for entertainment, I have this:
I have no idea how it works for other authors, but for me, writing a book requires a kind of concentration that, it becomes more and more clear, I actually don’t even have. So I have to force it out of myself, it’s in there, but it’s down deep; if I was a country, it would be in another country, that’s how deep it is. I can lose that concentration if I go away from it for any time at all, even out to dinner. When I come back, I often find that I no longer know how to write a book, I can’t think of anything to say, I have to start over; I’m grateful for William Wordsworth’s words …
Aha! Now I remember. Of course, I can do that! Then I sit in my chair and wait until it all comes back to me; sometimes it takes as long as a week before my heart is once again breathing out loud; trips to the refrigerator provide the needed exercise while I wait. So, I’m careful and I try not to go anywhere. Hence, Groundhog Day. Tomorrow will be the same as today, because that’s how it was yesterday. Up, sing, tea, shoes, shawl, apple (for wild and crazy variation, maybe English muffin), paint, Joe/tea, Jack/rubber band, Girl/Kiss, eat, walk, paint, sleep. It doesn’t make for much of an exciting blog life, but at the end, a reward of a fat, cute little book and a long trip across country, the slow way, hopefully to meet many of you! The other thing is, sometimes (and this requires a stretch but it’s worth it) I feel like Diane Keaton in the movie Something’s Got to Give … remember, she’s a writer, and she’s in her bedroom writing, crying most of the time because Jack Nicolson is breaking her heart; it’s not the crying part for me, but the writing part! She makes it look so cute!
OK, back to work, but now, to celebrate my groundhog life, here’s a delicious little winter-night dinner I have no doubt at all that you will love! Makes the kitchen smell like heaven tastes just delicious. Defraptious as my mom would say.
I’m on page 157 of A Fine Romance! Could someone please say, You go girl?” xoxo Uh oh, I just noticed — the two cups of pineapple juice that goes into the Pineapple Spareribs is missing on the recipe! That groundhog probably drank it! You just mix it in with the rest of the ingredients! Sorry!