It's Friday morning, 1:45 a.m., five days before my writing class submission is due. I should be asleep. I shouldn't be obsessing about what I can write my submission about. I did this last night too. In bed at 11:00, awake until 4:00. No ideas that I remembered in the morning.
I was in bed again tonight until five minutes ago. I finally got up because I realized nothing good was coming from staying in bed and listening to TV. They were selling Italian purses on the shopping network. When I found myself wanting to buy a purse so I could write about it, I knew it was time to get up and do something else. I can't afford Italian purses.
2:00 a.m., and I'm sitting at the computer with a cup of black coffee and six Hershey Kisses with almonds that I like to eat by twos. I checked my Facebook page, but none of my friends appear to be awake. Not surprising, I guess. Usually the only reason they'd be up at this hour is to go to the bathroom. I just thought they might check Facebook on their way back.
My daughter gave me the writing class for Christmas. She thinks I like to write, but she's only half right. I like to write when an idea pops in my head and the words flow. The last time this happened and I wrote something long enough to be a submission was over seven years ago. I wrote a lovely piece ranting about Bush's victory and the Republicans gloating about having a monopoly on moral values. Maybe it takes outrage for ideas to pop into my head. The Italian purses weren't outrageous. They were just nice leather.
The class she signed me up for is memoir writing, of all things. I'm not terribly old, but old enough to know that my memory isn't my best asset any more.
I have a game I play with myself at my bookstore. After a customer leaves, I play FreeCell on the computer. My rule is that I have to win three games in a row for a new customer to come in. I end up playing all day because I can't remember if I won the last game. Although usually I can remember the very last game; it's the one before that I almost always forget, which means I'm continually stuck at two. Sometimes customers come in anyway and things turn out okay. But I think my store would be a whole lot more profitable if I could just win that third game. I might even be able to buy Italian purses.
It's now 2:30 and I just made my second cup of coffee--this time with two teaspoons of instant granules instead of one because I couldn't remember if I had put the first one in. My first sip told me that I had.
There are strange noises in the ceiling of my apartment that I'm pretending are from water pipes, but fear are from critters. This might upset me except that it makes me remember the raccoons in the house I had before moving here. I think I might be able to make a story out of that if I remember it in the morning.
I've actually managed to complete most of the shorter assignments for my class, which makes me happy. Thankfully, the instructor comes up with the ideas for the shorter pieces and my job is a whole lot easirer.
Although last time in her critique she said she'd like me to do more of a story and not just a description of her idea. Which I think is a valid criticism, but also why I'm still awake. Because now I need both an idea and enough memory to make a story. And if I can't remember if I put two teaspoons in my coffee, I'm not sure how I'm going to get through a whole story. Perhaps a short one.
3:00 o'clock and a "Law and Order" is starting as soon as the "Cricket Expressions Scrapbook Etcher" commercial is over. I'm hoping it might provide some ideas, since I have a long history with it. Watching Law and Order is one of the few times that I'm grateful that my memory isn't as good as it used to be. I've watched every show several times, but I hardly ever remember them. Certainly not enough to ruin watching them again. A person will walk into a scene and all of a sudden I'll remember that I've seen the show, but I don't remember the plot or ending, so all is well.
Mining my memories, which I'm supposed to do for my class, is sort of like that too. A memory will pop into my head. I'll recognize it. But when I try to remember the facts--the important descriptive detail--they're just not there. All is not well with memoir writing.
3:45. I'm now drinking my third cup of coffee. This time I laid the spoon across the top of the jar after putting in the first spoonful of coffee so I wouldn't make the mistake of two spoonfuls. Just because the memory goes, doesn't mean the problem solving skills do.
In fact, I just realized that I could keep three spoons next to my computer at work to keep track of my FreeCell wins.
In reading that last sentence, I also realized I might be more tired than I feel.
It's now 4:00. Law and Order is over and there's only paid programming for the next hour. Unless they're selling purses, I don't think I'm going to watch. But a purse buying story is sounding pretty good.
I'm surprised to see how long my ramblings appear on the computer screen. Out of curiosity, I do a spell check and am not surprised to find that my spelling suffers from lack of sleep. So does my grammar. I do a word check and find that I've rambled halfway to a submission.
I'm suddenly more alert. A conversation starts in my head.
"I've almost written enough for a submission."
"You can't submit a stream of consciousness musing. You haven't mined any memories."
"Yes, but," my problem solving side counters, "my submission isn't due for five days. When I write and rewrite, this night will be a memory."
"That might work."
4:45. I have words on paper, an idea, and almost two hours before my alarm goes off. I'm feeling better. I might even be able to sleep
I just hope I remember to press "Save." Maybe I'll put a spoon by it.