My husband and I are down to one working laptop and one semi-but-not-really-working desktop.
This generally doesn’t pose too many problems for us. After all, we both have Droid Razrs. But smartphones aren’t the best for writing novels, or for downloading 20th Century retro video games.
So Monday night when I wanted to work on my book and Ryan wanted to play Unreal Tournament, we had to pull out the ole marriage handbook and strike a compromise: I’d get the laptop until 8:30, and then I’d go watch Biggest Loser.
Normally it doesn’t take much to get to me crash on the couch downstairs in front of the TV for several hours. On one hand there’s washing dishes or putting away laundry…on the other there’s my stockpile of Big Bang Theory episodes, followed by Once Upon a Time, Elementary, and SVU. I know, right? Why am I always the one taking one for the team?
But Monday night was different. For one thing, I’d already watched all of those shows over the weekend (the ones that didn’t have a bye week, that is); for another, I couldn’t get my novel out of my head. I might have been listening to Jillian Michaels lament the probability of going home early after the likely demise of her White Team, now down to one contestant, but really I was talking with Darby O’Dell in the forest of Wyoming’s Grand Tetons, considering how to rewrite the scene that would come next, one of the many I’d tossed out in favor of a new, better-written(?) plot line.
Since reaching the end of this novel three summers ago, and actually thinking myself to have a readable manuscript, I have deleted half the book (eight chapters) and so far rewritten about seven. I think there are another two chapters in there that will need to be rewritten from scratch too, but time will tell.
Really, not having the laptop to myself was not a good enough reason not to work on my book, but I let it be good enough as I chose reality TV over the reality of my life: That I’m a novelist who’s been editing her first complete book now for close to four years and frequently chooses almost anything to actually writing or editing.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the story, and Monday night was a perfect enough example of that. My head was in the game, but my willpower was cooling its heels over on the sidelines planning out strategies while taking a breather with a gallon of Gatorade. The reality of noveling is, it’s hard. Even if you know what you’re going to write, it’s still more difficult than flipping through the index of your DVR and scanning through shows that have piled up over several months and that you still don’t want to watch but are considering anyway because you so desperately want to feel what you feel while writing your novel, only in an easier way. The crux is that nothing will make you feel what you feel while writing your novel. Movies and TV and other people’s books might come close; they might give you that fix for drama or comedy or heartbreak that’s similar to what you were looking to feel, like how Cadbury chocolate will do, if it’s easily accessible, even though what you really wanted was Hershey.
And that’s what ultimately made me turn down old Charlie’s Angels episodes that have been stewing on the DVR since the last time Cloo Network had a marathon sometime last summer, and instead work on my novel by hand. By hand is even better, by the way. It’s harder than typing and takes longer, but that’s what makes it the Cote d’Or of the writing experience.