Down Days

Some days, the words aren’t coming. Some days, the to-do list that hasn’t been done is oppressive in the energy spent not dealing with what needs dealt. So, some days I just take a breather. Why beat yourself up? Who does that help?

This isn’t a day to do nothing at all – this is a day to do something that needs doing, that I didn’t want to do, and then reward myself for doing that. For example, Monday I couldn’t write, so I pulled the airplane out of the hangar and gave her a bath. While she doesn’t wriggle like a muddy matted half-feral kitten, she is a lot bigger than I think, and every time I start scrubbing down the skin gently, I remember she has 288 square feet of wingspan alone (because the underside of the wings do get muddy)… not counting the fuselage with all 4 sides including her dirty, dirty belly.

And every time you pay close and careful attention to her, you start seeing things that need attention – a stall strip that needs to be re-attached, a bit of flaking paint, a little rust… I realized that I dreaded washing her not for the physical work of washing her, but because I was afraid of how much wrong I’d find, and how broken she might be. She wasn’t near as bad as I feared, which was a weight off my heart…

…though trust me, it wasn’t a weight off my shoulders. My shoulders are still sore.

And there you have an emotional character arc: The failure to write, the dark night of the soul, the girding of the loins, forming a plan and setting it in motion, the battle (with dirt and exhaust stains, and with my own fears), the victory, and the reward of not feeling guilty about getting anything else done. And possibly some brandy… Okay, definitely some brandy.

Today, the words are starting to trickle back. I’ll take it!

11 comments

    1. Don’t feel stupid! You’re just unfamiliar with that particular area!

      On the one hand, yes, they get muddy when they encounter the earth, like a grass or gravel strip, or wet asphalt. (mostly the underside of the wings where mud gets thrown up on them, and the belly, and the underside and sometimes top side of the tail feathers.) On the other hand, given some of the dust storms that try to relocate the topsoil from New Mexico and the Texas panhandle through here and over to East Texas… anything that sits in a not-sealed hangar gets a coating of dust, too, on every surface, but mostly piled on the tops of the wings, every nook and cranny, and the top of the fuselage and tail feathers.

      And then there’s the grass in the landing gear, the bird poop from being out on the ramp, the exhaust stains on the belly… Yep, she gets dirty just like any other vehicle around here, even though she’s not driving on the highway (at least, I don’t in Texas. I’ve done highway landings elsewhere, including this lovely roadside restaurant and gas station up in Alaska where they have good, cheap coffee and awesome, awesome pie. And tourists who have to be gently told that they need to move their RV, because they’re blocking the aircraft parking, so I need them to move back in order for me to taxi out to the road and take off.)

      1. Does the stuff on the skin of the plane cause drag? Like barnacles on a ship’s hull?
        I learn something new every day. I suppose everything needs maintenance and cleaning, so why not airplanes too?

        1. Yep; the buildup of dirt causes drag and spoils lift, causing the airplane to require more power (and fuel) for the same airspeed. Also, it doesn’t look good.

  1. Since my grandfather flew, I was up in Cessna 172’s well before I was in a jet.

    He also survived crashing into a mountain, although a lot of plastic surgery was required.

  2. I had trouble concentrating on “character development and plot stuff” this afternoon due to a variety of things, including a bit of author-emotional stress. Instead, I wrote out an important technical scene (ah, the joys of blue-collar fantasy). It was needed progress, and didn’t use the same “mental muscles” as other types of writing.

  3. I scrubbed the part of the hallway where the dog believes he has license to relieve himself (if he can SEE the puppy pad, he thinks that is close enough). Spending time on my literal, and not just metaphorical, knees was probably good for me.

  4. I am doing a few hundred words to keep the NaNoWriMo going. Weekend’s going to have to pick up. But today was interesting.

  5. The last few days have been, counter-intuitively, good for the word count because keeping my head in the WIP prevents me from obsessing over the news. Reading fiction may be escapism, but writing it is even better escapism!

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