Move Your Tired Old Ass Like a Writer -- Reb MacRath
No. no, Austin Powers! I don't mean shake your booty, I mean move your butt--as in relocate from coast to coast, state to state, possibly country to country. Lord knows, I've done them all for a grand total of some 30 moves. So you can imagine my consternation, as an expert on the subject, when I found myself hamstrung and befuddled in the middle of a move: from Seattle to Tucson, Arizona.
With just three months to go before D-Day in August, and with a strong foundation already in place, my head had started spinning from thoughts of the puzzles I couldn't complete:
But one blessed day I wondered: what if I moved like a writer? In fact, I'd already started with months of research and prep work that resembled plotting: deciding on Tucson vs Phoenix, checking out apartments, completing an application and putting down money on one for an August move-in. I'd even ordered advance Tucson business cards to send to prospective employers before my arrival.
So, like the good plotter writer I am, my confidence level should be high. And yet...
Time to go now, butterflies. From here on, I'll put my pro experience to work.
--Treat the slog that I now face as something like a second draft. This is where a daily brutal fight is waged to emerge with something that's really alive with potential. A second draft is like digging a ditch. Keep at it, I remind myself, and treat exhaustion and doubt as just par for the course. Set a goal of taking out one 30-gallon garbage bag filled with junk every day.
--Kill your darlings. Ridding the obvious junk is a breeze. But what of the designer dress shirts I collected but haven't worn in years--and won't need in Tucson's desert climate? They're adjectives. Get rid of them. Take only the nouns and the verbs.
--Think of the move as a sleek tale--a book, let's say, of 60K words. There's no room for narrative or any kind of fat. When I think of it this way, deciding what to take and what to scrap becomes a simpler and less stressful process.
--Plottering is good for me. But I go pantsing when I must. In the upcoming 4th Seattle BOP mystery, when it became unfeasible to transport a dozen people to LA to board a Southwest train, I searched for an alternative. Needed: less transit time from Seattle...and a route that would still pass through a desert terrain. The California Zephyr, which leaves from San Francisco, filled the bill. And, likewise now, when an acquaintance who'd offered to help move my junk bailed out, I took a deep breath...kept the faith...and began to Google.
--Let every aspect of the move, like every paragraph and page, add to the impression of positive personal presence and vim.
That's it for now. It would take a Sandra Horn, Debbie Bennett, Bill Kirton, Peter Leyland --possibly an Eden Baylee--
to address the flipside of this coin:
Can you write like a mover?