The song came on in just the nick of time. And I’m not saying it saved the day, but it was a welcome respite from the internalized self-doubt that overwhelms all of us from time to time.
No, I don’t want a diagnosis, pity, or a phone call. There is no need to send me a shrink’s phone number. I know a couple, and those folks seem to have those days too. It was merely one of those days.
I’d gone out for an autumn drive. I had only a couple of destinations in mind. I toured my buddy’s new business venture, and then I went to pay a bill. I get a bit of angst when I receive an invoice in the mail from a place where I don’t commonly do business. I figured I’d drop off a check to save the postage. I know it costs far more to drive than mail a letter, but common sense is free, and I was short-changed in that department the day I got my driver’s license.
I knew that I needed to get back to the house as writing deadlines tend to loom over the life of a poor planner. While it probably seems to you, the reader, that my book just came out, so I should be able to take a bit of a break. It doesn’t work like that.
Late summer and early autumn have presented unforeseen obstacles to the writing of the next. Due to some family matters, I had already requested a more pliable deadline from Michael, the editor. He was kind, but I only asked for an extra month or two. I truly believed I’d be retired by November of this year; that will not happen.
I need to edit and re-edit a pile of stuff. At the same time, I need to throw out a smaller pile of writing that has no business going into book number three. To replace that poorly-written stuff, I need to write more stuff. It’s inevitable that some of the new writing will be poorly written, just like the stuff that I just threw out.
To do all of that, a mope—who tends to roam— must sit down and avoid all the other chores that can easily block success. No reading from the pile of books by my chair. Ignore the desire to have a short nap in a sunbeam. Avoid eye contact with Ellie as she determines that I have been typing too long and she has to make a “comfort visit” to the wood line.
In the midst of this, I must continue to talk incessantly about “Got Warrants?” to a lot of folks who are already tired of hearing about it; I am my own public relations firm.
Now, just like you, these thoughts come at me from every corner of the brain. You try to fend them off like manic swordsmen, but sooner or later you flail at them with no real defensive plan. That’s where I was.
Oh, the song?
I continued the drive toward a non-specific point somewhere east of the Penobscot River. I determined I would get a coffee near Bucksport, then travel back up the west side of the river while sipping something black and refreshing.
The coffee was a good choice, and I avoided accompanying the caffeine with easily-carried carbohydrates.
I pulled into a gravel lot near a wide spot in the river and sipped and stared for a few minutes. I was lucky to be suddenly serenaded by the sound of a Briggs & Stratton, and I was lulled into a space that was much more pleasant than my previous angst-filled wooden sword fight with unseen centurions who can be really annoying. There is something about the drone of a lawnmower off in the distance.
My focus changed. I was transported to a visit with my twelve-year-old self. I saw the rust spots on the red mower deck, and I could smell the unburned gasoline that was now evaporating from around the black gas cap where I had spilled a bit of it while filling the tank just moments before.
In front of me was a wide, tidal river bathed in the glory of a sunny autumn day. But all that I could see were imperfect lines of the wobbly plastic wheels on a lawn that was a bit too wet to mow. I knew I’d have to go over it again later, but knocking it down would be good enough for now.
I could see my hands on the speckled rusty handlebars of a second-hand mower. They were the hands of a younger me. Steady, but with dirty fingernails and a couple of cuts and scratches from pushing this, or pulling on that. I just listened to the mower for about fifteen minutes before turning the radio back on.
Oh, the song? I guess there were no guitars or drums, but the song was clear as a bell.
There is time for all of this, and it will get done. I might have to go over it again, probably many, many times. The grass will continually grow, and I will continue to mow.
I’ll probably take a couple of minutes to tighten up those wobbly wheels.
I have been so shocked and pleased by the support for the BuyMeACoffee application. I know I tell you all “Thanks” all the time, but it’s heartfelt and sincere. So, thank-you, again. The book sales are flowing along quite well, a sophomore author does not get real-time updates about sales numbers, but I feel good so far. That’s, a good spot to be in. Thank you for your support, buying my books, dropping me notes, and listening to the last podcast visit with Mike Rowe and Chuck. Every bit of exposure helps, and theirs helped a lot. Be well. Thanks for reading my stuff. TC