Friday, December 28, 2012

Resting and Garbage

Leisha here.

Everyone knows garbage trucks are not supposed to come on holidays. They're supposed to stay parked in their garbage truck garages. Because everyone knows this, my hubby and I didn't bother to put our cans out this week.

Our only problem was, we didn't realize Christmas Eve day didn't count as a holiday. Apparently it counts as a garbage day. Waking to the sultry sounds of an approaching garbage truck at five-something in the morning the day before Christmas isn't fun because somewhere in your sleep-clogged brain lives a garbage warden. It sounds a lot like a warning klaxon.

This is what it said, and yes, klaxons are well know for their dialog.

Klaxon: Wake up, you fool! The garbage truck is here! You'll be swimming in post-Christmas garbage in less than twenty four hours, and the recycle truck won't be back for two weeks. This equals your own personal landfill. Wake up and run for your cans!

Me: Uhhhhhhhhh?

Klaxon: The garbage, woman! The truck is here! Run!

Me: Ubb nnm uuhhhh?

Klaxon: Run, you fool! Run!

Me: The garbage truck!

I bolted from my bed and ran for my cans. Down the stairs, across the house, out the door, and into the fresh cotton-candy snow.

Did you know snow is slick? I went down like only a forty-year-old, pajama-clad, bare-footed, klaxon-crazed, landfill-fearing-woman can. (Falling hurts.)

But! I had to get my garbage out. I scrambled up, slushy and wet, and limped for my cans. I grabbed the first one, dragged it to the curb, and faced a smirking garbage man. (Garbage men are the best smirkers, by the way.) He had one word for me: Recycle.

I glanced down and realized I'd grabbed the wrong can. I asked him to give me a minute and went to retrieve the correct bin. He waited, politely laughing the whole time. As he drove away with my junk, I hobbled into the house, bruised, cold, and somehow triumphant.

Now, I know this sounds like the typical Leisha adventure, but it really does have something to do with writing, and no, I'm not suggesting we take out our writing garbage. That's a whole other story. I am suggesting we slow down a little in our sprint toward publication.

Sometimes we, as writers, are like the sleep-drugged version of myself. Except, we're anticipation-drugged. We want to get our stories out. We need to get them out. We must get them out. We have some deep, irrational fear that if we don't run full-out for publication we'll miss it, and our stories will clutter up our heads like a literary landfill.

Here's the thing. Running like a crazy person toward publication isn't always the best plan. You might fall and get hurt. You might take out the wrong story. You might get smirked at.

Several of the recent posts here at Scribblers Cove mentioned taking a writing break and refocusing. That doesn't have to mean eons, years, or even months, but we do need to let our stories rest. As an example I finished my latest WIP during NaNoWriMo this year. I was jazzed. I was pumped. I was ready to rush into revisions December 1st. Then I got the flu, followed by bronchitis. I felt like garbage. Long story short, I took the whole month of December off, and the best thing happened. Ideas started percolating in my head. Unanswered story questions started answering themselves. Plot holes started filling in. Characters deepened. Settings became more vivid. All because I didn't rush on.

Now, not only am I rested and ready to move on, my story is, too. I'm awake, I'm rational, and I'm armed with fresh ideas. Perhaps if I had slowed down to think and plan in my race for my garbage cans this week, I might not have ended up splayed out on my sidewalk. And perhaps if we do the same thing with our writing, we won't injure our careers either.

Just keep in mind resting is good, waiting forever isn't. After all, we must get our stories out. And if we do slip and fall, there will always be a garbage man watching. At least we'll make his day.

Leisha Maw


  1. Loved this post, Leisha. I've been having similar thoughts. An unexpectedly large teaching load this past semester train wrecked my writing career, and now that the semester is over my writing is finally coming out of a coma. Since September my brain has been so busy thinking about how I can possibly explain combinatorics to people who failed high school math that I haven't even been thinking about my stories.

    This is a good thing. Really, it is. Once I've written something I tend to cling to it fiercely, bend over backwards and stand on my head to get those parts that aren't working to work, when instead I should be willing to delete the whole thing and start over. Or at least put it in a drawer and wait until I can recognize what's really wrong with it. This semester I've been forced to let everything cool off. It was great.

    I was in a mad, headlong rush to publication, and I blame it on Dave. You were there, Leisha, so you know what I'm talking about. Well, I went splat in the snow and lay there crying for a while because in my rush I'd sabotaged some good opportunities. Really good opportunities. But I'm ready now to stop kicking myself, stop feeling sorry for myself, get up, and get going again. This time, I'm going to do it right.

    1. Yay! I'm so glad you are going again! :) New, awesome opportunities will present themselves. I'm sure of it. And everything you write will be more rich, more inspiring, and more awesome for your growth and experience. So, here's to not kicking ourselves and moving forward.

  2. It sure seems like a fine balance - moving ever forward vs. taking time to let our stories season, and let our story-related thoughts mature. I love this post! It hits it right on the nose. I've rushed it before, and I have bruises to prove it. It's better to wait a little, just a little, and make sure.

    1. Balance is right. Lol. I've never been too good at that, but it doesn't stop me from trying. Thanks for always being there to steady me. :)

  3. Great post! The slushy world has a way of forcing us to slow down sometimes, doesn't it? I'm in a constant battle to slow myself down, rest, recharge, rebuild. I'm getting better at it, and reminders like these are just what I need!

    I hope the New Year contains all sorts of wonderful things for you!

    1. Thanks, Susan. I hope the New Years is bursting with great things for you, too. :)


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