Say hi to my pal, the leafy sea dragon. I became infatuated with these fascinating, beautiful beings the first time I visited the California Academy of Sciences. I was planning to share this picture with you today and talk about my writing process, making some grand analogy or another. But my experiences this week took the post in a completely different direction – though I’m still going to go for the grand analogy. (In high school, I had quite the reputation for my analogies…all things considered, I could have been known for something far worse.)
Leafy sea dragons have no teeth, no venom, no means of defense whatsoever, but these clever creatures don’t let it get them down. They adapted to their environment – the lush kelp forests around Australia – evolving plant-like appendages that allow them to blend into their surroundings, hide from predators and sneak up on the larval fish and amphipods they eat.
This week, my usual 4 days of writing time was whittled down to 2.5, thanks to a minimum day for my kids and Tuesday’s plumbing disaster. I’ll spare you the gory details, but the nearly 1K bill and the 4.5 hours of rescue activities by a team of valiant plumbers tells you just how crappy it was. (FYI, I’m also known for my lousy puns.)
Like the leafy sea dragon, I found myself defenseless against life’s onslaught, battered by the swiftly changing tides of my schedule as my writing time was mercilessly gnawed away. (Ta da! But we’re not done quite yet. Wait for it…)
On Tuesday, I had a momentary panic attack, because this year, I challenged myself to complete two 90K first drafts between the end of the winter holidays and summer vacation, with my kids’ spring vacation serving as the break point between them. Losing time might blow my goal of writing four chapters this week. (Most writers use word or page counts, but those freak me out. Somehow, with chapters, I can stick to the “get to write” phrasing instead of the “have to write”. It’s a subtle distinction, but it saves my critique partners the trouble of talking me off the ledge.)
Since panic is counter-productive to creativity, I considered alternatives, like an early morning write on Saturday instead of a sleep in, and bestowing rare school day XBox privileges upon my sons in between homework completion and dinner, thus scoring myself a couple of extra hours of writing time. Above all, I decided, I had to stay relaxed, had to make like a leafy sea dragon and go with the flow, adapt to my changing environment and allow my working time to evolve as needed…
It panned out fairly well. I’m only 15 pages behind, and I have two hours this morning to take a bite out of that. Yum! Larval fish. Whatever is left will be waiting for me Saturday. Next week – hopefully – we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, but I’m not holding my breath, since I’m lacking gills and all…
Happy Earth Day, Everyone!