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You know you’re getting old when…

by Brenda Dayne on February 8, 2008

Today I increased the font size on my browser. I turned off “let websites dictate the font style”, and set the default to 12 points. I just can’t deal with tiny type this week. Eight days into the proposal, seriously feeling eyestrain and shoulder tension, I am just bloody computered out. Yesterday I fiddled with the brightness and contrast settings on the laptop. It helped some. As did the increased font size, but it makes me feel… No. Not old. I’m not even sure what old is supposed to feel like. Just older, and more aware of the changes in my body as I age.

Experimentally, I tried writing some of the concept statement by hand, lying on the sofa with Ruby, but didn’t get very far with it. I scribbled some lists, and then picked up my knitting and worked on Dulcie for half an hour. A growing sense of urgency drove me back to the computer. Only twenty-one more days left in the schedule. So little time.

Feeling refreshed, I wrote one mind-blowingly kick-ass lead for the section, felt brilliant and powerful and in command for twenty seconds, and then managed nothing of note for the next two hours; merely shuffled words and sentences around the page. If it’s a good sentence, and I think I’ll be able to use it later, I’ll hit return and write a new one on top of it, and then another, and another, and the words shuffle downward, ahead of the typing, as if they’re being pushed by a snowplow. Yesterday there were four pages of useless crap below the single, shining sentence, and I had to scroll and scroll to find a few less-sparkling gems, and then shuffle some more to make them work together. It was a long, hard day, and the word count was low, but in the end I felt satisfied. For now.

All in all, despite a few hiccups, and having to learn to manage computer-body issues, the proposal writing is going really well. Using this book as a guide, I have set up a schedule for the project using Basecamp (coolest web-based project management tool ever) and am work-shopping the process there. I’ve walked this ground before, written part of a proposal, for a book called The Knitting Muse – a mythic path to creative knitting. It was a good proposal, but right about the time I wrote the section called About the Book, I lost interest in the project, as a book. It’s such a long process, book writing. I loved the idea of it. I just didn’t want to spend that much time with the Muses. But I didn’t want to abandon the idea either, so I used it in Series Two, and I feel like I did the subject justice.

About the Book was the last section of the old proposal I finished, and I am nearing that point again. Despite the fact that this new book is also knitting related, I am hugely surprised by how very little of my previous work can be used. I was hoping. I thought it would make the task so much easier, having the old proposal to draw from, but it hasn’t. Maybe books are like children, and they’re all different; maybe I’m two years older, with different things to say, and different ways of saying them. Reading back on the old proposal, and comparing it to this one, I think I write with more confidence now, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Oh, nuts. I really just meant to pop in, wave cheerily, and share a couple of links, and look what happened.

Anyway, I followed some links from Neil Gaimans’ blog the other day, and read about Patry Francis, and her book, and the community of writers who helped her promote it. This really got to me:

This effort has made visible a community that is, and has been, alive and kicking – a community that understands the struggle artists go through and rejoices in each other’s successes. It’s a community made up of many small voices, but – guess what? – those many small voices can create some noise. So while today is for Patry, it’s also a symbolic gesture for all of you who work so very hard for little or no recognition, for all of you who keep going despite the rejections, and for all of you who have had illness or other outside factors force your art or your dreams aside. We are in this together.

What a wonderful thing, eh? Made me happy to be writing again, and happy to be alive.

1 tini February 8, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Neil Gaiman has a blog?
I’m so looking forward to your book 🙂 so *whisper* keep going!

2 Debi February 8, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Sitting at the computer with my purring cat curled up in my lap and holding one of my hands prisoner, typing requires more concentration than usual.

The movie “Finding Nemo” comes to mind. And Dora’s words, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. What do we do? We swim.”

3 Natalie February 8, 2008 at 3:33 pm

I love it when you get those little outside messages that whisper (or yell) *just keep going! we’re here for you!* I imagine it’s like knitting, every little bit of time that goes into it helps, even if it doesn’t seem like it in the beginning.

In a creepy stalker moment, do you walk/run Ruby on Swansea Bay sometimes? I think I saw you last week. Ruby came running up to me, and it was only afterwards that I realized that there couldn’t be that many American’s in Wales with dogs named Ruby. Next time I’ll say hello!

Just keep going, we’re here for you!

4 Tom Murray February 8, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Why do you call Basecamp the best tool ever? I’ve tried it, but was really disapointed to find out that they don’t have the important stuff like Gantt charts, due dates for tasks and other features. The worst thing – they don’t even plan to add them! I had to look for an alternative, here’s what I use now http://www.wrike.com.

5 gerald February 11, 2008 at 6:41 am

Thank you for continuing to write. Simply put “We need this book.” You can tell in your heart that we need the book, I heard it in the last podcast.

6 Libby February 11, 2008 at 7:09 pm

I knew there was a reason why I liked you! All the best people like Neil Gaiman!! his blog is http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal

Keep going Brenda we’re all rooting for you and it’s lovely to have your blog to read between podcasts. ;o)

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