Campfire Sparks

I’m exhausted. I know I’ve written enough essays here, and on my personal blog, about fatigue and it’s detrimental effect on the human mind, that I don’t need nor want to rehash that all again. Suffice it to say, I can haz a dumb. I’m forty hours into a fifty hour workweek and by the time I’m answering comments, I’ll have done all fifty of ’em.

On top of that, there was Drama earlier this week. Which has been sorted, but really. Who let me be a parent? I’m in no way, shape, nor form prepared for this. Any of this. I need chocolate, and heck with wine, something stronger would be just groovy. Instead, I have temporary loneliness, and let me tell you, sleeping without my husband in the bed is not good sleep.

It’s not all bad. I don’t think the story is going to burst into flames in my mind, but rather like poking the embers of a campfire, bits of sparks are flying up. Tiny glimpses of… something. Not connected, sadly, and definitely not connected to works in progress, because my muse is a perverse wench. Or curmudgeon, personified. But it makes me happy to have these sparkles of hope. The other day I had a little thing, a woman gearing up to step through an airlock into… well, that’s all I had. I knew it wasn’t space. She was fussing over socks, and respirator cartridges. I don’t know where she was coming from, other than a sense of home. Likely, there’s no story there, and I’ll never write it. It’s just a moment of the veil thinning and I could see, clearly. Just for a second before the spark cooled and vanished.

I had another moment, less story and more memory, where I was thinking about panning for gold. Mind you, I have not panned in almost thirty years. But the wrist motions are still there. I wonder if there’s gold in Texas? I grew up panning (and helping Dad with the dredge and sluice) all up and down the West Coast well into Alaska. I sometimes think longingly of those long trips, camping, making jam on the tiny portable woodstove, panning and picking out the garnets and the adult me looking over the child’s sun-browned shoulder thinking it’s a pity I didn’t keep a handful.

I should write that into a story. The little things you learn, how to tilt the pan. How to add a little more water, but not disturb your work. The sheen of the black sand, and then the glimmers of color, like sparks in the night sky, rippling under the cool water in your goldpan. It’s been years since I thought about those days, those motions, the rhythms of childhood for me. I don’t know why it came to the surface just now, but here it is and I’m all nostalgic.

Because I can’t write, I’ve been reading. Not a lot, not hours and books every day. Yes, I was plural there, and I meant it. I used to read a book, a novel of no great length, in a couple of hours. Now, I peck away at them ten, fifteen minutes here, standing in the grocery line for five minutes there. I’d listened to Mike Rowe raving about Travis McGee on his podcast, and it dawned on me I’d never read this classic hero from John McDonald’s mind. I’m rectifying that. A gift from a friend is helping, and I’m deeply appreciative. I usually stick to non-fiction when I’m writing, to keep from flavoring my own work too strongly. But right now? I’m not writing, so I get to read!

I tried to read a sequel, having enjoyed a first book in a series. Well, let me back up a little. The first book had a really interesting premise and original approach to a genre that I regard as a bon-bon book. You see, I don’t read romances on the down-low. Nope. I read mysteries, and thrillers, and sometimes these really cheesy takes on what Clive Cussler used to write, where history meets present and there’s a wild goose chase… And that’s kind of what this book reminded me of. Only there was no spark. It never really caught fire and pulled me in. It was a bit stiff and wooden the whole way through. But I read it anyway, and it’s not bad, it’s just not a good as I’d hoped it would be. The second was… well, it was a bit slow and ploddy starting. And then they introduced the villains of the piece and I didn’t wall the book because I was reading on my phone and I can’t afford to replace that. Honest to pete. Any chances of recommending that author are down the toilet. Cardboard cutouts of what the mass media wants to push as the cariacatures of villainry do not make good villains. Really they do not. Life, real humanity, and I’d buy into it more than just rattling off a laundry list of what the ‘news’ says. I did have a brief moment of wanting to send the book to a friend who lives and works in the rough area the book is set in (on the southern US border) just to hear the paint peeling from his opinion of it. Now, that’s entertaining.

Almost makes me want to take a page out of Dorothy Grant’s writing motivation and write a grudge book. To do it better, to give it the justice it really deserves. But nah. I’m tired. I’ll just scrape some dirt over the wet charcoal and move on. Find my own fuel for the mental fire.

Whenever I can coax it back into flame from these banked embers.

6 comments

  1. A good night’s sleep and I’m roaring right along. Last night wasn’t. Writing might not happen today. Which will break a nice long string 3K word days. Drat. I feel your pain, for the lack of that flow of words and ideas, and hope the other houses sell fast and your first reader can follow you to the new home.

  2. If I could write the blasted grudge book. I got hijacked by something impromptu that some friends are turning into a writing prompt book…

  3. I knew it wasn’t space. She was fussing over socks, and respirator cartridges. I don’t know where she was coming from, other than a sense of home.

    I bet there’s at least one airlock to Somewhere Else in the Lab Gremlins ‘verse. Or say Tanager is half-grounded in a junk heap-cum-pawn shop and there’s nitrogen atmosphere pumped into the storage spaces to preserve the (remains?) of the ship(s) for sale…

    Moving is on a par with death and divorce for sheer exhausting stress. I hope you can enjoy your reading break and get through to the other side.

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