Silk’s post #22 — It’s been six days since our 5 writers deadline. Six not-altogether-relaxing days of catching up with the rest of my life.
Doing things like finally unpacking those last remnants of never-needed stuff left in the zip pockets of the suitcases I took to Maui. (Why did I take all this junk, anyway? No wonder I could hardly lift my bag).
Things like paying my bills (hey, if you’re reading this and I owe you money, the cheque’s in the mail – really).
Things like doing 10 loads of laundry, cooking some normal meals, making up for lost strokes with my two narcissistic Maine coon cats (what cats aren’t?), and re-learning how to have conversations with my husband where I’m not constantly interrupting with “sorry, can you say that again?” because my mind has drifted back to my book while he’s talking.
But now, I’ll let a few excerpted lines from Sting’s classic “Saint Augustine In Hell” outline what’s next:
If somebody up there likes me, somebody up there cares
Deliver me from evil, save me from these wicked snares
Not into temptation, not to cliffs to fall
On to revelation, and lesson for us all …
Relax, have a cigar, make yourself at home. Hell is full of high court
judges, failed saints. We’ve got Cardinals, Archbishops, barristers
certified accountants, music critics, they’re all here. You’re not alone.
You’re never alone, not here you’re not.
Okay break’s over.
Although this song about love and lust is probably more familiar by its chorus line (“The minute I saw her face, the second I caught her eye”) – and the only thing it has in common with writing is that the pursuit of any passion can certainly lead to hell – that line “Okay break’s over” has always stuck in my head, with it’s gleeful promise of more pain, followed by Sting’s maniacal laughter.
What better theme song for the Tortoise’s ongoing journey?
In word count, I was only about 20 percent of the way to my destination when time ran out. Of course, the research, plotting, character development and all the other work that goes into a first draft are a big part of the job, so if you look at it in terms of overall travel time, I’m probably more like a third of the way there.
But that still leaves me something like 80,000 words short. Or 410,000 letters, if you use the commonly accepted count of 5.1 as the average number of letters per word in the English language. Just half a million or so taps on the keyboard, each one a minuscule step towards redemption.
It reminds me of one of my favourite Gary Larson cartoons, the famous 1984 panel titled “Aerobics in Hell”, in which a gleeful, cloven-hooved beelzebub is conducting an exercise class for several overweight and clearly unhappy residents, who are shown standing on one foot with arms akimbo.
“Three more, two more, one more, okay! Five-million leg lifts, right leg first! Ready, set … ” says the devil.
In other words …
Time to hold my feet to the fire and write like hell.