Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Static Friction

Oh, a blister to the eye, indeed!

Around 1250 words tonight. Acceptable, all in all. The blister begins to subside.

So what kept me from writing for so many days? Depression, my usual enemy. I'm very prone to it and slip into it too easily. Some slight thing will trigger it.

I was feeling a bit down for various reasons and took time off to read the new Dick Francis novel. Francis had announced his retirement, but I suppose his publisher waved an enormous checkchecque in front of him and he felt he had no choice but to turn out another novel about horses and murder and an intrepid but introspective and sensitive ex-jockey. I read light fiction to recharge my batteries, and the new Francis novel accomplished that end.

I wrote a bit last Friday and then went down to the basement to lift weights and did something weird to my wrist.

That wrist has been bothering me for years. Many of my joints have been bothering me for years. Both of my parents suffer/suffered from severe arthritis, and now it's my turn. Exercise and supplements seem to be keeping it somewhat at bay, but only somewhat. When I was young and hurt something while exercising, I didn't think too much of it. Now I always fear it means The End. The great decline begins! I'll have to stop lifing weights, and I'll turn instantly into a withered, decrepit, disgusting old man! I'll become that eventually, anyway, but I'd rather it be well in the future. So the wrist injury, which didn't seem to be improving over the next few days, cast me into gloom.

Which finally began to lift today. I don't know why, since my wrist still hurts. Maybe it's the Guinness Gary gave me as a birthday present today.

Writing and exercising both make me think of static vs. dynamic friction. It takes less force to keep an object moving than to start it moving. When the object is at rest, the force binding it to the surface beneath it, static friction, is actually greater than the force binding it when it's in motion, dynamic friction. I think we all know that from experience. When you don't lift weights for a while, I like to joke, the weights put on weight from lack of exercise, so they're that much harder to lift when you finally get back to it. It's also harder to make yourself get down there and start lifting again. The longer you stay away from writing, the bigger and more daunting the task of writing seems. I think it was Frederik Pohl, the science fiction writer, who advised against ending a writing session at a logical stopping point. He said you should stop in the middle of something, while you have momentum, because that way it's easier to get started the next time.

I'm writing a scene where Tommy reveals to Dolores that he's actually a time traveller. He sort of slips it into a conversation. "Nice weather today. Don't think there's anything good on television tonight. I'm a time traveler. You're going to have to go traveling in time, too. Read any good books lately?" She's disconcerted.

Originally, her name was Farani, which made no sense at all, as I finally had to admit to myself, but it did suit her. Her character has changed a bit, and I needed a name that did make sense in terms of the plot. Dolores is better, but it doesn't suit her. She's not a Dolores, but I can't think what she is. It sort of needs to be an Hispanic name, but preferably one that is also commonly used in the wider society.

I hope the right name will come to me in a blaze of inspiration after a wonderful writing session and while I'm vigorously lifting heavier weights than I've ever lifted before. If not that, then while I'm drinking a beer


Helen said...

David, I have been meaning to post this comment for over a week now, but haven't got round to it. I have bought a brilliant book that I highly recommend you get a copy of. It is called Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy (ISBN 0-340-83504-4). It is, I suppose, one of those self-help books, but it is more about implementing methods to improve productivity than simply altering your frame of mind. I have used it with regards to my writing career with great results in only a couple of weeks. My output has multiplied and I am much more motivated. And, I am only on page 25!! So, I'm hopig that the rest of it contains more similar great practical advice. From what you have been describing on your blog of how you are spending your time, it might help you.

I hope this may be of use to you. What you said about not stopping in a logical place is something I might try as the idea that momentum is easier to maintain than acheive from scratch makes sense.

It's not easy being a writer. There is much disappointment and is is very easy to slip into a downward spiral. But there is nothing better than doing something you love and believe you are good at, so we are really quite lucky in that respect. Hope you are on the up now!

David said...

Thanks, Helen. I'll look for that book.

Anything that helps is welcome.

I agree that we're lucky. It's sad to see someone who seems to be creative but is at loose ends because he hasn't hit on the type of creativity that fulfills and completes him.