Thursday, March 11, 2010


Ah, yes. There will be days like this.

For so many reasons, the writing process is filled with ups and downs. Flashes of inspiration followed by bouts of blandness. Crests of confidence flattened by form rejection letters. Moments when my schnauzers pretend to listen as I hash out a plotline, then days of doggy indifference. The highs and lows are inherent in the life of a writer. How many of us have checked bipolar symptoms online—professional hazard or psychological concern?

Yesterday was an amazing day of writing. Everything clicked. In fact, I was riding a three-day streak and feeling mighty fine. It was just the boost I needed after letting the Olympics and the Oscars sidetrack my productivity.

And then technology came along and slimed me. First thing this morning, I turned on my laptop, did what was supposed to be a quick email check and then after reading one email, “Problem Loading Page” flashed atop the screen. Refresh. Same message. Refresh, refresh, refresh. (Hope does spring eternal.)

I restarted the computer. No change. This forced me to dig out the new modem my cable provider sent me months ago. I’d tried to hook it up on a Saturday in December, but when I called the Support number, as instructed, to complete the change the technician half laughed and said there was a problem. Call back in a few days.

The fool! Didn’t he know whom he was talking to? Technology only gets one chance with me. I do have a low threshold for pain, you know. (I’m a redhead and medical research proves I’m not just being a wuss.)

I had no choice but to call the number again. I went through the annoyingly long automated sequence, pressing 3s and 4s only to wait for more options, more numbers to choose. Upon First Contact with a human, I broke out in a sweat. The guy started giving me instructions about cables and routers and electrical outlets over the phone. Another fool! Again, didn’t he know whom he was talking to? He must have been on his coffee (or medicinal marijuana) break because he gave each direction only one time and then contentedly waited in silence, possibly looking at butterfly decals, as I fumbled around with cords and black boxes for minutes on end. I don’t know why I felt I needed to rush. The guy—oh, let’s call him Darryl after my favorite “Newhart” characters—could have held the line all day. He knew a good gig when he had one.

An hour later, I had service restored. Of course, by then, I was too frazzled to sit down and write. I treated myself to a heaping batch of blueberry pancakes and mindless Internet surfing which led to exciting nuggets of information, such as: (1) Betty White is hosting SNL in May; (2) Nikki Yanofsky’s CTV Olympic song “I Believe” is still number one in Canada (and nowhere else); and (3) head shots in hockey, while unanimously deemed penalty/discipline worthy by the NHL’s GMs, will continue without sanction at least for the rest of the season due to several procedural hurdles. (Yes, let’s be fair. I’m sure Marc Savard and the next unsuspecting player who sacrifices his health and career will thank you for it.)

Back on track again, I had a productive afternoon fine tuning a spec script for a television sitcom. It was finally ready to print and I was so excited I cleaned the kitchen as the printer hummed along. (I’m not sure how tomato sauce stains landed atop the refrigerator, but they’re gone now.)

And then another snag. I had purchased a copy of an aired script for the sitcom to ensure my formatting mirrored that of the show’s writers. No way was I going to get tossed in the recycling bin on a technicality! However, when I collected the pages from the printer, all of my customized line spacing and underlining were ignored, deemed incorrect, by the Celtx program’s typesetting mode. I tried again but Celtx had a mind of its own. I searched the forums and FAQs online to no avail. After feeling entirely deflated, I sent off a polite, yet desperate email, setting forth the problems I’d encountered.

The script, as printed, is passable. Yet I know it can look even better so I sit and wait. The package I’d hoped to send off at the post office must wait another day, week, perhaps longer.

I’m glitched out. I look forward to a writing upswing come tomorrow.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I have prided myself in putting in solid writing days six days a week. Pot of coffee on, an early morning dog walk and then it’s time to write. Midday exercise break, an email check over lunch, more writing. The self-discipline has been surprising but I only need remind myself that this year of writing is both an opportunity and a luxury.

And now, in a moment of truth/guilt, I must ask: Where did my routine go? Three weeks ago, I fell off the writing wagon. The Olympics sucked me in. How could I not stop everything to marvel at k.d. lang’s “Hallelujah”, Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal run, the elegance of Virtue & Moir, the grit of Jon Montgomery on the skeleton, the speed and stamina of Charles Hamelin and Clara Hughes and the bring-it-home performances of the men and women in hockey?

As much as I enjoyed the entire two-week run, I was relieved to see it end, knowing that I could awaken Monday morning, coffee on, and pound away on the laptop. And then, half an hour into a solid beginning, the phone rang. I was summoned to the school board office for four days of marking provincial tests for students in grades four and seven, a much needed bank account booster and a wonderful experience to dive back into the minds of children, but another setback in restoring my writing gig.

Oh, I tried. I came home each day and wrote. Just not as much as I’d hoped—and I found myself doing smaller writing tasks instead of killing off a beloved character in my novel. Going back to work, albeit temporarily, reminded me how difficult it is to have the fresh energy and thinking to log in significant writing time. My writing life has been a solitary endeavor and it seems that the added social component in a more customary work environment may have been the biggest factor in my feeling drained as soon as I returned home. It wasn’t just the writing that suffered; I couldn’t drag myself to the gym either. Naps, snacking and mindless television ruled the evenings.

Yesterday’s Oscars provided another excuse to shorten my writing block. In truth, it had been a day of struggle even before the insipid red carpet interviews began. (How aggravating was it to see a host ask a starlet a question and then pull the mic away when she went beyond the two-word response limit? And why did I seem to care about Rachel McAdams’ dress?) Frankly, my 5K Sunday swim was more exhausting than usual, a final Olympic legacy as I passed on the pool last week to catch the gold medal hockey game. (Thank goodness, the end result was the right result!)

And now, it seems that all is clear. No more excuses, no more getting sidetracked. I have the first draft of a manuscript that I expect to finish this week and I’m itching to get moving on several other projects. Absence makes that heart grow fonder? Oh, let’s hope!