Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Ruse of Necessity

I was camping over the weekend with my family and a couple friends. I packed with good intentions: my gazillion notebooks and an equal number of pens, Ribena, and Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes. I thought the mountain air and a few days of no work-related worries would spark some creativity, and I'd write pages and pages of brilliant prose.

I had every intention of completing the front of the sweater--even though I brought an entire bag of knitting when we went camping last summer (which I packed before the food and clothes, of course) and knit only a dozen rounds on a pair of socks the entire five days we were there. I planned to finish the last 200 or so pages of the book because it was due yesterday. (I guess I'll be paying a 40 cent fine because I now have every intention of finishing it on the 4th, since I won't be at work but the hubby will be.)

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 mile hike (even though my knees were crying in pain by the end and the dog needed a piggyback and then an air-conditioned car ride back to our sites), the swimming (even though I was shivering the entire time), riding in a canoe (even though Serena and I could only figure out how to row around in circles while The Girl caught seaweed), the guacamole and s'mores (not at the same time, of course), the campfire (even though the thought of bears and all the horror movies with young women at a dark campsite alone completely freaked me out), and my daughter's ghost stories (even though they were all about vampires and me losing me head because I screamed it off). I even enjoyed going to the "Day in the Life of a Forest Ranger" program so The Girl could meet Smokey the Bear (even though the ranger whipped out an overhead projector and made us sing Smokey's theme song while he played the keyboard. I'll do anything for my kid...but I refused to get up and dance the Smokey theme song to the "Macarena." I have my limits).

I just wish I had more time to sit in the screen house with my book, or sit in the wooden swing on the beach and see where my pen would take me, or sit in the warm sand and listen to the breeze and the comforting clack of the knitting needles. I regret the three hour nap I took on the couch after unpacking nearly everything and putting it all back in the proper places.

This makes me think of a poem recently posted on the vivid just like you blog. Her June 26 entry features the poem "Advice to Myself" by Louise Erdrich. The final lines basically telling us to ignore everything except whatever breaks down "this ruse you call necessity," our everyday, mundane tasks, really made me think about how many times I put off writing when I was in the mood to visit my characters, when the muse is tugging me toward the pen and paper because I have to sweep the floor, dust the bureau, do the dishes, chop the vegetables, etc. etc. etc. How many lines have I lost before they came into being because I placed a higher value on taking out the trash? How many adventures have I passed up because I wanted an extra hour of sleep, watched a cooking show, surfed the Web, vacuumed the floor?

I can't get them back, but I can do my best to listen to the muse when she rises from her slumber.

**Photos Copyright 2007 Serena M. Agusto-Cox**


Serena said...

I had wonderful intentions as well with the patterson book and the notebooks for writing...UGH...nothing came to fruition...though I did read about 2 pages of patterson. Less than you I think.

Anna said...

I did manage to read probably 5 or 6 pages total before going to bed, but I guess my eyes are getting to old to read by lantern light. LOL

I spent much of yesterday reading and still haven't finished. Less than 100 pages to go, though! I'm on the home stretch.