What I am writing…not what I planned, that’s for sure. The cartoonist Lynn Johnston once wrote that when people ask her where she gets her inspiration, she likes to answer “my deadline.” And I, too, gave myself a deadline of Friday to restart my stalled novel, hoping that would be inspiring. But then I allowed my chest cold to be my excuse for missing said deadline.
As a habitual student, I have become conditioned to need a deadline. And apparently, I need the added pressure of “Students will be penalized 5% for any class missed for any reason. Late workshop submission will be penalized on the portfolio grade 5 marks per late day.” Without any consequences (other than the obvious long term failure of never finishing the novel), my deadline of Friday came and went. But I did some more work on my ‘according to’ narrative long poem which morphed from three line stanzas to five lines, with a much improved rhythm, if I do say so myself.
So now, what I’m reading. It is Reading Week at UBCO and at other institutions across the country, and that assuages my guilt somewhat at being less than productive the last few days. It’s our version of spring break, but a month or so early, as our term ends mid April. And because my next assignment is ready to upload for its due date February 19, I indulged in some recreational reading, a luxury for me. Otherwise, I am usually reading something required for a class each week.
First I re-read Michael J. Fox’s “Lucky Man” after he reprised a role on “The Good Wife” last week, and after I heard a childhood friend had just been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Michael’s book is well written, although I haven’t read many memoirs to compare it to. But I find his book actually quite suspenseful. Maybe not everyone who reads it has this reaction, but I was almost on the edge my seat throughout the story, even the second time around. There is just something about reading (in hindsight) all the clues that lead up to his diagnosis of Young Onset Parkinson’s, interwoven with his real life that involved making movies that were showing up ‘in a theatre near you’ every year or so. And then he was on Spin City, all the while trying to hide the progression of this degenerative disease. He even underwent brain surgery in secret trying to buy himself a little more quality of life, and a little more time in front of the camera.
Then yesterday I read two out of four of the short novellas from Stephen King’s latest “Full Dark, No Stars” and loved them. I really like Stephen King in general. In my experience of short story and novel writing classes where we have dissected many a story, I think Stephen really knows how to tell a good one. The mechanics are always there, perfectly executed, it’s just the subject matter and length that put some readers off. For example, not everyone connects with a novel about an artist struggling to reunite with his young son after a mysterious signal broadcast over the global cell phone network turns the majority of his fellow humans into mindless vicious animals (Cell, 2006). But it’s still well written.
I really like Stephen King’s novellas, especially when I’m limited for time, because you get all the great Stephen King story elements, well written, nicely described, in a compressed version perfect for Sunday afternoons in bed with a chest cold. I started “Under the Dome” months ago but a novel of that immense size, and a lot of King’s novels tend that way, involves the kind of time commitment I just don’t have right now.
Now, to come up with a ‘consequence’ to help kick my butt in gear before this Friday.