Mr. J (opens the door to go to work): Hey there’s a new cat outside!
(We live in an apartment complex with lots of stray cats.)
Mr. J: Yeah!
Me: Yeah (Not the happy, enthusiastic “yeah” but the uncomfortable, defeated “yeah” of a person who all cats know will do anything for them and will ultimately suffer the displeasure of her inside feline overlords because the outside cat made big eyes at her yesterday and she doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to go without paying homage to the outside cat by giving him/her the inside feline overlords’ treats. And once they find out I’m giving an outside cat treats there will be HELL TO PAY!)
Me (again): Yeah.
Disclaimer: Mr. J loves my cats. But he came into my life many years after they did. They were here first. They don’t understand why he’s here now. They hate him. He does not understand why they hate him, or rather he does but he doesn’t care. Also, we are both vulgar people and swear at our pets just as much as they swear at us in cat language. No cat feelings or human feelings were harmed.
We were watching Master Chef.
Me: Describe the spirit of Tiny Rick if he were food.
Mr. J: A really good stew that you crack a raw egg all over at the last minute.
Mr. J: Because he sneezes all over everything.
Me: Okay, what about Leela?
Mr. J: Tiramisu but you dumped the entire jar of cinnamon over it.
Mr. J: Because the core is good but if you scrape away the top it’s just overwhelming and slightly annoying.
Me: Okay, Titian?
Mr. J: Chocolate pudding. Because she’s a fat piece of shit and slightly runny.
Note: Titain weighs 18.5 lbs. which is big for an American shorthair.
So I just had an epiphany.
I was writing an email to a friend, I like to let her know what I’m working on even though sometimes I feel quite intrusive because she’s made of awesome and does all the awesome things (more on confidence and conversations with other creatives later). I wrote sometimes I get discouraged or find things hard because a project feels too big for me to handle. And then I thought about that.
Havoc’s Moon, my work in progress, feels too big for me to handle.
In a way, that’s kinda cool. I feel like I just got a positive diagnosis or something because I’ve identified something I can work with.
I’m not going to shorten my book. One of the things that made writing Past Life, my sci-fi novella, fun was its smallness. So I just need to figure out how to translate that into a longer thing.
I’ve got way more characters in The Slaughter Chronicles and many plot lines. Whenever I think about my story I feel like I’m looking at a huge world map, my scope is so wide I can’t see any of the topography clearly.
So now I’m going to work on zooming in.
Now I only write numbers.
05 line the 26 day line 2018
My initials are not letters but curves in the road, a roundabout, a punctuated swirl.
I never write my initials the same way twice
But the lab techs and quality know every time it’s me because they
I don’t know what they write I do know
I don’t write words anymore, only numbers
10 line 04 line 2017 JH
And so on
And so on
With ballpoint pen
I used to hate writing with ballpoints but you can get used to anything if you do it long enough curls in the road like a ribbon, a strand of hair, a stray thought that begins where you are and takes you where you want to be with who you want to be with but if you lose focus you have to error correct and then there are more numbers and more lines
The physical physicality of writing
So I’ve got some wasps trying to make a home behind the aluminum siding next to my front door. I was standing on my balcony zoning out after the storm and one of the wasps flew straight at me. Usually I move and make my slightly disturbed distress noise but because my brain has been in a fog all day I didn’t really register that the wasp was there. When I didn’t move right away it hovered in the air about a foot in front of my face and made this little loop in the air. I, finally realizing that there was indeed a wasp at face level, moved over a little to the right and said, “sorry.” The wasp then flew through the empty space and into the gap between my door and the siding. I think the only reason I didn’t get stung was because it had a mouth full of food or construction material for its house.
For some reason we were talking about directions first thing in the morning, literal directions and written instructions.
Me: wow thanks for making sure the left and right side of my brain are working.
Mr. J.: Yes because that’s how you know to take a left instead of two rights.
Me: Two rights EQUAL a left so fuck off!
Mr. J.: No they don’t…(dramatic pause)…It’s three rights make a left.
Me: fuck off
Mr. J: wow you really learned a lot from those gen ed classes in college
Me: If I were a god or goddess who would I be?
Mr. J: (silence)
Me: Take your time.
Mr. J: Ok you know when Hercules fights all the centaurs because he opens a bottle of wine too early or whatever? The wine could only be opened at such and such time on such and such day? Something like that. Because the wine belonged to all the centaurs and it was special wine.
Mr. J: You’re whoever gave Hercules’s friend that wine.
Me: I’m Bacchus? Why? Because I used to drink a lot? I barely drink anymore!
Mr. J: No. Because you’re neurotic as fuck and need things to happen in specific ways at specific times otherwise everything goes horribly wrong.
Note: I think Mr. J made up the part about the wine being reserved for a specific time and place and I’m not sure if Bacchus gave the wine to the centaurs or if they just got it from the local ABC store but it’s still funny.