The Long Weekend

The heat settled into New York over the past week, and while it took its time getting here (mid-fifties in May?) It is here now, ongoing now where.  Our apartment in Queens, like a lot of apartments in NYC, is not centrally air conditioned, and we are definitely feeling the lethargy that the heat brings with it.  The cat has taken to flopping on the kitchen floor for most of the day, while Laura and I have opened all the windows and placed a couple of fans strategically to get the air flowing.  It works for the most part, but yesterday I spent a good hour trying to nap because I felt so sapped of energy, and yet... I wasn't tired enough.  Getting out of the house certainly helped because it's inevitably cooler outside than it is in the apartment, and so I've tried to spend a good portion of this Memorial Day weekend out in the world.  Yes, we have window units, and we could put them up, but the cost, and at least for me, the feeling of giving in to the heat, letting it defeat me, has kept us from doing so as of now.  Luckily, rain came in last night and is cooling us down a bit.

Speaking of this weekend, it's certainly been a long one, or at least it has seemed very long in the best way possible, and I'm pretty sure this has a lot to do with my decision this weekend to dispense with television, films, and iPhone games.  I just noticed that I had been using distractions in my life, distractions that took up my time, but not in a way that I was really enjoying.  I was spending my commute dawdling away on this mindless match three game, and then at home I was downloading "Ugly Betty" into my brain for a couple of hours a day.  Oh I was still getting things done, but I got to thinking about what I would do with my time, if it were opened up.  How much more could I get done. Because, looked at truthfully, I was using tv as an avoidance tool. consciously or un, and I hadn't come to New York to waste in passivity.

And so this weekend, beginning Saturday, I turned off the television, deleted my iPhone app, and am really pleased with the results.  Of course I did the normal things, laundry and cleaning, but I also read - and while some might think that's just another distraction, it has always been a much more involved and active pursuit.  You have to commit your entire brain to the task.  At night, rather than wonder what we were "going to watch" my roommate and I played card games and chatted.  I spent time researching agents, narrowing my focus, and finding out which was the best way to reach out to those I was interested in.  But more than that, I became aware of my life.  And what else did I do?  I wrote.  A lot.

I've been working on a long form project since November, and I've devoted a lot of this weekend to it.  Of course, I've been spending most of the last couple of days slogging through and working on the thirty thousand words I've already written, and finally got to the point where I am facing the future of the story again.  And now?  I know why they say to write a rough draft without going back.  It can mean death to a project.  And yet, now that I've done it, reviewed what came out of my brain, I definitely have a better understanding of what I'm wanting to write, what it needs more of, and who my characters are.  So I can't say I regret the months it's taken me to do it.  But now?  As an experiment, I'm going to let my heart guide me.  Trust what I've built, and let go.  Let them tell me what to do, in a sense.  Will it be messy?  Yes.  Will there be contradictions?  Yes.  Will it make sense and be clean and written with an economy of words?  No.  There will be a lot of deep diving later, but I also think this will help me get to the bottom of the story that I want to tell, and I'm looking forward to it.  And also?  When I allow myself to really get lost in it and write what is "fun"?  The time flies.  It feels less like giving blood than it often does.

I'm to sure when I'll go back to television.  Not tomorrow, because I have too much going on in the evening after work.  And for Wednesday?  I think I'm going to extend the "sabbatical" through then.  Hell, if I love the results, I might keep it going through to the weekend.

Joe Hartman