Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Vacant Stare Is How You Know I'm Working

I downloaded a desktop theme called "Nordic Scenes" a few days ago. Before that, rotating NASA spacescapes graced my desktop (say that three times fast), and although they made me and my human life feel distinctly big and significant, I was ready for a change. I had previously thought about getting some glacier-themed stuff to look at while I was writing the Greenland book, but I am so allergic to cold and cold environs that I thought it would just make me unhappy, rather than making me more in tune with what I was writing. I'm really glad I caved; these pictures are gorgeous, and although ice or mountains are often a theme, they aren't always.

I just wish I knew where the heck they'd taken the pictures. I mean, duh, in Nordic areas, just--is this Iceland? Norway? Greenland itself? I have no idea.

About half the time that I'm writing, I'm actually staring off into space above my laptop, because I'm thinking as I'm putting words down, and thanks to seventh grade typing class, I don't need to look at my fingers. I kind of wish I could be looking at something other than either the closed blinds or the inside of our patio, where the weedy pots sit forlornly on the concrete, helpfully reminding me that no plant will ever, ever flourish under my care, ever, unless I give up and leave it to its own devices (this is how the rosemary on our front walk survives). Not so helpful to my confidence, as a writer, a member of the supposedly more nurturing gender, or a human being. I mean, really. Who can't grow zucchini?

Where was I? Oh, yes, my view. I told Matt what I really wanted was a large screen, monitor-sized, that had beautiful rotating pictures on it for me to gaze at blankly while I typed, or while I sat like a stump and waited to know what to type. Pictures rather like the pretty themes you can download for Windows 7, actually. I don't want to pay for one of those digital picture frames, because I'm not really a picture person. I just want a kind of meditation screen.

We have a small old monitor in our garage that I tried and failed to sell on Craiglist once, and I'm giving some thought to hooking that guy up and leaving my lovely rotating Nordic desktop on it to look at. But since I'm working at the dining room table now, if we ever decide to eat a meal on this table again there'll be a whole setup to clear away instead of just this laptop. I don't want to be a pain, nor do I want things to be unnecessarily complicated.

When I was working on the yoga memoir I now have in the metaphorical trunk, I wrote about how people often reject props because they see them as being for beginners, or for wimps. I wrote something about how if you think of yourself as a hardcore practitioner, your attitude is, sheeit, I can do yoga on a concrete floor in India, man, I don't need no stinkin' props. Well, okay, if you insist, but it's not necessary to do that to do "real" yoga. And it's more pleasant to use props if they're available, anyway. It's nicer to practice on a Manduka mat in non-chafey pants if you can, even if your practice is mobile and advanced enough to be anywhere and in anything. Using a block makes life easier in half-moon, and boy, does practicing in Lululemon feel like a million bucks.

I could probably write in a heatless, windowless garret if I had to. Longhand, God help me. But I like writing in a padded chair, on a speedy little laptop, and I like having something pretty to look at while I'm working. So I think I'm going to try out that monitor setup after all, no matter if it makes my writing rig seem unreasonably elaborate. It may not make my writing any better to have something to look at, but it'll make me feel better.

Even with the equipment I have now, I did get past my block this week. Thanks in part to the judicious and responsible application of alcohol, I got to work. I wrote several thousand words this week, and I have a good idea for where to go next. It's not a project that has a picture-ready theme like the Greenland book, so I think I'll stick with Nordic scenes for now, but we'll see. My stamina bar is filling up again, and I have confidence that I'll finish this project, if for no other reason than I really want to work on the next one. For that next one, I know exactly what kind of slideshow I'll use: pictures of Marilyn Monroe.

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