Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position. ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
One of the earliest lessons I learned when I was a kid – so long ago, you’d think I was there in the Age of Dinosaurs – is this: No matter where you are, what your status in society is, how much money you have in your bank account, or how nice you are to others (and let’s be frank here, you can’t be nice to other people all of the time), you will have your good days, and you will have your bad days.
For me, today was a good day, all things considered.
As you know, I am working on an ambitious (for me, anyway) writing project; I’m attempting to create my second self-published work of fiction (I self-published my first one, Reunion: A Story almost exactly five years ago via Amazon), which I hope to publish either in late summer or early fall of this year, depending on how fast I finish the first draft.
I’ve been working on it since early March, and even though I’ve had my share of “bad” days (which, in the context of this post, are those when working on The New Story seems more like the Bataan Death March [look it up] than like the Liberation of Paris or the night that I lost my virginity), I’ve had a fair share of “good” ones.
And today, Dear Reader, was a good day.
A very good day.
Admittedly, today’s writing session was easier than yesterday’s because I picked up the narrative right where I left off at quitting time (5 PM Eastern) on Wednesday, May 3. My narrator/character (yes, it’s another story told in the first person) was in the middle of telling a story, but I was tired and couldn’t find a satisfactory way to at least end that part of the scene (the second one in the fifth chapter of The New Story), so I left the page (and scene) in mid-thought.
I fully expected today to be another difficult day; I try to start my writing days (Monday-Friday, usually, though I will sometimes cave to the story gods on weekends if they are too insistent) with a can-do attitude. But I am not, under my present circumstances, the most optimistic person, and often, my frets about whether I’ll ever fall in love with anyone again, or whether I’ll be better off at the new place or not do pop into my consciousness, thus fucking with my ability to “make stuff up” for The New Story.
I don’t remember yesterday as being a good writing day (which, for the sake of this narrative, I define as a day when all my little gray cells are fired up and I write at least a minimum of 1,000 words. I might have come close to a 700-word end-of-the-day output, but I’m not all that sure. All I remember was being stuck at the midpoint of the scene I was working on (and wanted to finish) yesterday – and not getting unstuck.
Today, per Word’s word count function, I added four pages and 1,413 new words to The New Story. I am, of course, unable to be totally objective about my own work (especially on a day when – rarely for me in 2023 – I have a satisfied look on my face after a day’s writing), but I think that even if these words are not Stephen King-good, or Jennifer Egan-good, or Ernest Hemingway-good, they’re pretty good. Not great, mind you, but good enough to feel like I did a good job as a writer and did not, in Stephen King’s colorful metaphor, end up shoveling shit while sitting down at my writing desk.
Now, if only I had a nice, ice-cold bottle of Heineken beer, I might even celebrate!
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