I was commenting to someone the other day that I’ve created such an ingrained routine that I don’t know what I did on my weekends before I started writing. It’s probably been 18 months now since I began writing both days of the weekend, without fail. On Saturday I’d go about my usual tasks, read the paper, catch up for a coffee perhaps, do my grocery shopping, some housework, a load of washing, maybe play for an hour with my iTunes just for fun, before knuckling down to write. Every so often I’d get up, stretch my legs, put the washing on the line, make a cup of tea, and check the footy scores, before getting back to it. Time flies, and there’s a grand sense of actually achieved something.
Sunday’s are not much different. After all the usual morning stuff I retire to my study, Rigby at my feet under the table, and set about constructing a little more of the fictional world created in my mind.
I took a break in recent times from the novel to write some stories – well received stories by my testers. I’ve since returned to the novel for a forensic examination of it, line by line. Can I improve that line? Generally I can. Sometimes it goes bigger than that. I’ll subtly re-shape, or re-write some dialogue. I’m doing it non-sequentially because I don’t want to be drawn too deeply into the story – this is mostly about the brushstrokes. This week it was chapter 2; a couple of weeks ago it was chapter 4; next week it will be chapter 14. Once I’ve completed my first draft of the re-write I send it off to my most critical reader and he’ll come back with corrections, questions and ideas. I’ll make an assessment of those and then complete the final draft of the chapter. I reckon so far that the final version is a marked improvement on what I started with – more direct, but more intimate also, leaner, stronger.
(I’ve told the movie producer to hold off on her stuff until I have completed a version I’m happy with. It’s academic as it was unlikely to move that quickly anyway, but there was always a sense that there was a premature – but exciting – rush).
Yesterday was a bit different. For the last week or so my health has been sub-par. I’d had a heavy cough that refined itself to a thinner cough. As it became thinner I felt it more. I felt as if there was a lump in the middle of my lungs, and the usual aches and pains. Yesterday that was clear, but I felt something viral. I was off, as if hungover. I had no energy, felt fuzzy, and couldn’t focus to write. What to do then?
That’s how things have changed. Once upon a time I never wrote on the weekend and was always occupied. Now I had to search for things to occupy me, though no real shortage of options. I read for a couple of hours lying on my bed with Rigby snuggled close. I ventured out into the cold and wind needing to take Rigby for his walk, and when he returned I reclined on the couch and watched an old movie – The Day of the Jackal.
Of its type, a classic, and always fascinating, and very well made. Watching it was an act of nostalgia too, as so many things are these days. I probably watched this movie when I was about 20, and probably another 2-3 times since then. It was familiar, though having read the book also I had that in me.
The thing is that these things remain static, while everything else around it changes. Once the movie is made it’s locked in place. The actors age and die. The world portrayed in the movie moves on. We, the viewers, change also. Movies like this become touchstones, moments in time in which we are recorded also. Then the next time we see the movie, identical to as it was before, we sit in a different chair, our hair is longer, or greyer, our lives have changed and people around us added to or subtracted. And this too becomes a moment in time.