The official start of the winter solstice is still a month away, but you would not know it from the looks of Columbus this week. I walk at a pretty brisk pace wherever I go, but I’ve had to dial this down quite a bit, almost to the point where I’m walking like an old lady.
This is due to the wrist I broke earlier this year in a fall on the ice, and this was a reminder that I have reached that stage in life where a fall can have more dire consequences than when I was still young and stupid. I panicked a little this morning when I slipped a little on an icy sidewalk while I was on my way to catch my bus this morning, doing my usual Dagwood Bumstead dash out the door.
It looks like I have hit a brick wall with the Fifty K in Thirty Days manuscript. I’ve decided to take an approach that has worked with me in the past. Namely, I’m going to purge my mind of it, and “least expect it” for the time being. I’ve always heard that’s when you find love–when you least expect it. (I parroted this cliché to a lonely co-worker of mine at The Boston Phoenix, and he said, “Yeah, but I’ve been ‘least expecting it’ for two years now!)
It’s how I’ve found items I’ve thought I’ve lost. Put them out of my mind, focus on something else, and then, lo and behold! they appear.
Yet, I’m not able to block the idea of the novel, and its current stagnation, from my mind altogether. An elementary school teacher once told us, “I want you to sit totally quiet for the next two minutes. And don’t think about blue elephants.” At the end of the period of silence, he said, “You’ve been thinking of nothing but blue elephants the past two minutes.”
But I am armed for bear when inspiration finally rears its head. Since my last few months in Athens, I’ve been in the habit of carrying a 3″ x 5″ spiral notebook and pen on my person, usually in the breast pocket of my shirt, or in my pants pocket. (I know I started this practice in Athens, because my earliest notebook has HOCKING VALLEY BANK on its cover.)
If I think an idea will be so transient that I’m afraid I’ll lose it if I don’t record it right away, now I can record it, literally. I bought my newest toy, an Olympus VN-7100 digital voice recorder, at Radio Shack Monday night. (Ironically, it was kind of an impulse buy, while I was there to buy C-60 blank cassettes!) It’s not much bigger than a domino, and has a storage capacity of about 40 hours at its highest speed. I’ve christened it Digital Diane.
I have had a succession of microcassette recorders, which, until now, recorded on standard magnetic tape. I named all of them Diane, after the unseen (but probably infinitely patient) aide of Twin Peaks‘ FBI agent Dale Cooper. Several times an episode, Agent Cooper spoke his thoughts and information into a portable Dictaphone, and each one began with “Diane…”
So, now that I have the appropriate equipment (ancient and modern) to record all significant thoughts and inspiration, I have to “least expect it.” In the meantime, my word count is unchanged.