My Dirt Ring

May 27, 2010 § 19 Comments


            Something different happened the other night. I sat down next to my husband on the couch. A hard copy of manuscript revisions was in one hand and the laptop rested on a pillow over my crossed legs. This scene isn’t that different. It happens rather frequently and is often what we consider our “quality time.” Hey, our knees touch. That has to count for something, right? The something different was that I started to nod off. I literally could not keep my eyes open. I’d made a pot of coffee at four that afternoon and drank every bit of it. I went for my typical evening run with the children in the jog stroller for that extra boost of energy. I sat down with all these grand plans to edit, write, and read over my queries, but fifteen minutes into all this, I started to fall asleep. My body couldn’t take it. Stubborn as I am, I refused to concede. I got in a less comfortable position and tried to keep at it. Still my head dipped every now and then.

            My husband looked at me funny. He does that a lot. “Maybe you should go to sleep.”

            “No, I want to get this done.” This had never happened before and I couldn’t stand it. My fatigue probably added to my stubbornness. Then I asked myself why? Why did I want to get this finished so badly?

            I don’t realize how hard I play with my children until I’ve drained all the water from their bathtub every night and look at the ring of dirt that lingers with the small patches of soapsuds. We are fierce in our play.

            At the end of the day, I look forward to writing. There are certain thoughts or phrases that have built up in my mind all day and I feel like I’ll explode if I don’t get them out.

             I don’t know much about writing. I’m still figuring it out as I go. There are others more talented and articulate than I who give great writing advice on their blogs. I’ll leave that to them, but I’ll say this about my writing at the end of the day. When I don’t get it out, I feel like my entire body will burst.

            The short story. Mine are never over 2k words. I write five pages, print out, edit, revise, consider critique, and repeat. I do this until I can hold a hard copy in my hands and say, “Look at this. I created it. This is something I’d want to read and it’s polished enough to send out.”

            I haven’t done this with anything novel length and ache, ACHE to get there. To hold 81k words in my hands and say, “Look at this. I created it. This is something I’d want to read and it’s polished enough to send out.”

            The manuscript I’ve finished is not even close. The new one I started leaves me emotionally drained, sobbing even. It is so difficult, dark, and sexy. I sit down to write and am terrified, but if I don’t? All the leftover drudge and dirt found in the bathtub is still in my head. All the things I’ve accumulated are still stuck in there.

            There are times I think I started blogging/tweeting too soon. The relationships I’ve made are precious and irreplaceable. I’ve received opportunities I would not otherwise have, but it’s distracting. Not in the sense that I want to be on twitter or read blogs more than I want to write. I do love reading what other writers have to say and find their advice invaluable. It’s a great community and I love how everyone encourages one another, but I also see everyone else’s success and ache for it that much more. I’m not stupid and know this isn’t why I should write, but it is an honest emotion just the same.

            This blog is somewhat a release for the dirt ring, and I’m always thankful when people read and comment. I’m rarely serious, but when I have been, it’s meant the world when people respond. It feels great when strangers respond, but even more so when people I know and love say validating things. My husband never reads my writing, or so I thought. The other day he said something that HAD to have come from one of my blog posts.  

Me:  You read my blog, didn’t you? You read it. What did you think? Did you like it? Did it make you laugh? What did you read? Did you read all of it? Did any of it bother you? Did you hate it? YOU READ MY BLOG. I’m so excited. What did you think?

Him: …..

Me: This is why you never admit to reading my blog, isn’t it.

Him: (huge smile)

            I stopped asking questions after that. It meant everything to know he’d read it (If you’re reading now, thanks. How does chicken spaghetti sound for dinner?). It reminded me why I’m on twitter and why I forget to blog. I should consider it my lifeline while I’m out here treading water in the writing/publishing world.

            I’m going to keep going, keep rinsing out my dirt ring. And if you’re reading, thank you. Would you like to come over for chicken spaghetti?

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§ 19 Responses to My Dirt Ring

  • Patty says:

    My gosh, do you have my house bugged????

  • I LOVE chicken spaghetti. But I’m making beef spaghetti tonight, can I get a raincheck?

    I know what you mean about length – I’ve got something coming out soon that’s my very first non-flash fiction, and it’s like my very first pub again. 🙂

  • jeanniemoon says:

    This is wonderful. It’s a great look into your day and what makes you tick. Play hard, and write what you love.

  • Jason says:

    I just wrote something on blog about this today — finding and making time; the other things that can pull you from it. No touching knees. However, in that ballpark of, “Okay, so with a family, commitments, a job and such, as well as a passel of distractions and other hobbies, when, where and how do i get my 2,000 words a night.

    It’s unanswered, but valid I think to what your waxing on here.

    Extra parm, please.

  • Simon says:

    My word, good lady. Seriousness? I’m shocked!

    I hear you, though. I was thinking the same thing recently. Did I start social media-izing too soon? It’s a distraction, when I could and should be writing. I don’t get nearly enough done on my own fiction as I should. And yes, other people’s success makes me happy for them, and also impatient to get my own craft perfected (as far as is possible) and my stories published.

    Wonderful post, Harley. You’ve outdone yourself.

  • Jo Treggiari says:

    I can just tell by your blog and your tweets that your full-length manuscript (whenever it’s done to perfection) is going to be something unique and wonderful.
    You just keep at it.

  • I actually count my blog posts into my daily word count. I still have a word count goal for the novel I’m working on, but blogs go into the overall count. I consider it a good writing workout.

    And I love the dirt ring analogy – evidence of all the fierceness of the day.

  • Peter Thompson says:

    I’ve noticed many similarities between not writing and not running or getting a good workout in any given day. And it’s not just the typical ontological guilt I feel every day after waking up, but I think it really affects my neurotransmitters. I can’t write unless I sweat first. And, no, I’m not going to prison. Maybe jail for a few days. We’ll see…
    Selah,
    PTh

  • harleymay says:

    Patty, yes I do have your house bugged. You freaks.

    thelittlefluffycat, yes to your raincheck and congrats on this published piece! I’ll keep my eye out for it on twitter.

    Jeanie, thank you for the encouragement. Yes. I’ll keep plugging along.

    Jason, YES, I agree. You said wax. Ha. And we’ll set three extra plates for you guys. Bring something Bavarian when you come.

    Simon, I know, what’s the world coming to? Me? Serious? You’re a great writer and I know you’ll get there. Thank you.

    Jo! Thank you for commenting. It means so much that you did and your words are so dear. I’ll keep your comment forever. I’ll print it out and tape it to my bathroom mirror.

    Jeffe, blogging can be a good writing workout. I like putting my satire/humor pieces up on mine. Writing is writing. I guess I know I only have so many minutes to write a day and want that time going to the manuscripts/short stories. It is a hard balance.

    Peter, that’s a great thought about the workout correlation. It absolutely affects/effects (I never get those right) my mood and mind. I’m glad you aren’t doing hard time. Let me know if I can do anything.

  • J. Koyanagi says:

    This was honest and beautiful. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Don says:

    I love the dirt ring analogy, too. This is why I interact with other folks, online and off–in a million years, I wouldn’t have come up with that!

    So, where’s my chicken spaghetti plate? 🙂

  • Patrick Alan says:

    You remind me of the Babe.

    The Babe with the Power.

  • The Power of the Voodoo. Who do? You do.

  • I know exactly how you feel about the satisfaction of writing and of blog comments. So here I am, commenting on your blog. Keep up the good work–it’s amazing that you balance all that you do.

  • […] Harley May asks the question of whether she started ’social networking’ too soon. […]

  • harleymay says:

    Hey Jac, thank you for reading. Your comments are always lovely.

    Don, I got your chicken spaghetti rights here, friend. This summer? I volunteer my camera expertise to film your losing youtube video with jazz hands. Yes, this makes me happy.

    Patrick and Elisabeth, LABRYNTH FOR THE WIN.

    Thanks, Jamey.

    I love my friends.

  • VALIDATION! 😉 AND you should post the recipe for Chicken Spaghetti… 🙂

  • Sometimes you read something at just the right time and it resonates just perfectly. So thank you! (For inviting me over for dinner.)

    No pressure or anything, but I now expect you to articulate all my thoughts more efficiently than me, so I’m following you on twitter. Seriously, no pressure. 🙂

  • harleymay says:

    Eisley, I’ll post chicken spaghetti just for you.

    Elizabeth, thans for commenting and welcome to the world of Harley May. I’ll articulate this sentiment for you: You are happy and you want some coffee. You want to bring me some while you’re at it. You’re a peach.

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