Getting Rid of the Elephant

I’m writing a book. That’s nothing new, really. But I’ve been struggling with it. I have this scene I was trying to get to, a scene I had envisioned months ago. I built steps to get to this scene, I planned it out. I put in references ten chapters ago that would become relevant here in this scene. I looked forward to getting there. I finished the last two chapters in a bit of a hurry, saying “Oh, I’ll go flesh that out later, I need to get to that scene!” I finally sat down a few days ago to write it…

And it didn’t work. I mean, at first I thought it was maybe just a little tweak I needed. I sat back and thought about it. I talked it over with some people. I gave up for the day, and right before I went to bed I got an inspiration and scrawled a bunch of notes. Went to bed thinking: ok, relief. It works now. Tomorrow, I can write it that way.

But I woke up at 2am, knowing better. It still didn’t work. I lay there for hours, rotating it in my head. He has to get there… she has to say this… he can’t do that… so he does this… no, that means… no. No, no. nonono… And before too long I was pretty upset. This wasn’t working in a lightweight, gee I need to tweak this a little way, but in a great big, ohmygodthisdoesn’tworkwhatthefuckwasIthinking sort of way.

So then it was morning and time to get up. I headed to work. But I was distracted by this, mulling, chewing on it like an old bone. All day. I get to work and am faced with a heap of fabric. A previous effort has fallen down, literally, onto the floor. And now, we have the elephant to consider again.

Photo by ArranET

Photo by ArranET

See, my boss is redecorating a room in her house. We’ve been working on it for some weeks now. Last week we bought fabric to hang on a wall. She had a batik elephant (beautiful thing) hanging there on the near wall, and we struggled to find things that went with the room, the situation… and this elephant. Not that fabric, clashes with the elephant. No, that goes with the elephant but not with anything else. This goes with the elephant if we get rid of those pillows. These go with the elephant if we remove this table. It went on and on. Last week, we thought we had it licked. Yesterday morning, not so much. On top of my failed writing, it was really wearing on me. Simple creativity is lost and lost. I am old and cannot function. Did I think I could select fabrics?

Did I really think I could write a book?

And then she says to me… it’s the elephant.

I nodded, but didn’t hear, worrying. She said it again: It’s the elephant. That’s the problem.

The elephant.

She was right, too. There was no reason not to move it. The moment we knew it, we knew it completely; we moved the elephant to another room and opened the world up for this wall. Much easier. Much, much better. And I stood there, thinking… duh.

Of course I can write this book. Of course I can. It’s not the book that’s stopping me. It’s the damned elephant.

So tomorrow, I’m going to delete my failed effort on this scene and move on to the next one. I am sure it will go much more easily now.

God, I hope so.



Sizing It Up

I just bought a watermelon. I could barely lift it.

They’re breeding everything for size anymore. Whatever size it is usually, that’s no good. If it’s usually small, bigger is better. If large is the norm, then the goal is smaller. Grapes the size of strawberries. Strawberries the size of apples. Apples the size of grapefruits. Horses the size of dogs. Dogs the size of kittens. Cats the size of… well, sort of large cats. They haven’t really gotten around to sizing cats much yet, I guess. Maybe cats the size of goats would be considmelonered dangerous. Maybe they’ll eventually make cats the size of mice. Then we’ll see who catches whom. Until they make the mice the size of lentils. They can do it, I know they can.

None of the improved fruits taste like much. They’ve bred all the flavor right out of them. But the one that’s really getting me down is the ghastly thing they are calling watermelon lately: Tiny “personal” watermelons that have no seeds and no flavor. Finding a normal, large (30lb) plain old-fashioned watermelon chock full of seeds is a rarity. Something I never thought I’d have to worry about: whether fruit would continue to be delicious.

I just bought a watermelon. I could barely lift it.

That made me absurdly happy.