The irony of the years I’ve lived in the DC suburbs is that for as anti-team-sports as I am in general, I’ve participated in office pools for the NCAA men’s basketball tourney… and done well. In fact, I won both of the past two years. And my bracket this year still has seven of the eight final teams playing alive and well and in the running. It’s an odd, statistically improbable path to office camaraderie for me, and in some part of my mind reflects on the George Bernard Shaw quote I’m sharing this week. What is it to live like humans?
In my case, and in the case of everyone I know, it’s mostly down to how to live with failures large and small. I’m back to that old Buddhist saying of “life is suffering,” but also, how do we move past that? Live in the moment? One author buddy of mine was noodling on that theme in her blog this week and reminded me of the power of the phrase “at this time.” Another author friend of mine is dealing with the repercussion of a new diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis, and how that means she must learn to budget her energy. My mom is re-learning how to walk properly after hip replacement surgery this week–and what it means to have one key component of her body fail her sufficiently to require that kind of intervention.
My failure of this round was my inability to finish my latest novel. Looking back at my original goal of February 10 for a completed first draft just made me shake my head. I’m not sure where I was imagining I’d find the time or energy or focus to get back to my fast-drafting mode. I’ve been lucky to get a thousand words a week; this week I managed zero. Between the migraine that morphed to a 24-hour flu that had mostly passed by the time mom went through her surgery, and the follow-up duties that went with that, as well as the freakish return of winter, I’m having a hard time remembering much about the week, let alone that I was to have written at some point during its course.
On the other hand, I read an interesting article on “transrealism” and discovered I may be part of the first major literary movement of the 21st century.
Seriously. From the article:
Through this realist tapestry, the author threads a singular, impossibly fantastic idea, often one drawn from the playbook of science fiction, fantasy and horror. So the transrealist author who creates a detailed and realistic depiction of American high-school life will then shatter it open with the discovery of an alien flying saucer that confers super-powers on an otherwise ordinary young man.
The connection of the fantastic with the realistic has played a major role in every one of my stories, and offers such richness for my imagination, I’m guessing this will remain largely the playground I explore. Certainly, the theme of challenging what constitutes “normal” figures greatly in most of my conversations, as well as bleeds into my writing. I may have to become more intentional in pushing my writing that direction. Normal, to again refer back to Bernard Shaw, is a human illusion. Each of us faces the difficulties that land regularly at our feet with varying degrees of grace or unconscious ineptitude.
I read two more books this week. One great, one not. Comparing what makes one author’s work a hot mess where another leaves her readers with the warm, fuzzy feeling of completion is another way of becoming intentional. The first included allusions to so many threads to other works in her series none of her secondary characters managed to differentiate themselves in my mind. Given the brevity of the story, too, the leap from “getting to know you” to “we’re mates” was also jarring. In contrast, Gail Carriger’s Romancing the Inventor was an enthralling journey. The characters jump off the page and nestle themselves into your brain long after you’ve finished reading. Neither story could in any way be stretched to help define “normal,” but the exploration of ethics and relationships certainly helps add color to what “being human” ought to mean.
Hubs and I also stayed on top of Designated Survivor. I suspect our jaws are still clattering around on the floor as we consider the radical plot twist the writers on that show threw our way last week. I’m crossing my fingers that the mole in the White House isn’t the jingoistically indicated character, and am having a hard time figuring out how the darkness of betrayal could be reflected in any of the primary characters we’ve come to know so far.
Aside from the entertainment breaks and care-taking duties, we did manage to keep up with our walks. Tashie is definitely stronger, and the small up-tick in my average step count reflects that fact. My phone says I managed a 2,828 daily average this week.
I have renegotiated my new deadline with my editor in the meantime. My new goal is 2,000 words per week. Given how I’ve done so far this year, that could be an invitation for yet another renegotiation this summer, but a different part of being human is to push ourselves–stretch for things that seem beyond our reach. I’m glad I have the ROW80 group to keep me honest in my goal-setting and -pursuit, so I’ll be back again next week, even if the rest of the group isn’t.