Review by Patrick Stuart
February. Possibly the worst month for anyone in a northern clime. No major holidays. Cold, gray weather. Whiny kids stuck in the house with nothing to do. And too distant from spring to anticipate the warmer, sunnier benefits of the seasonal change. Such as the wearing of flip flops. Tank tops. Or bikinis.
Hey, it’s my yard . . . if I want to mow the yard in a bikini, I’ll do it. Shut up.
Anyway, February is another metaphor for that long inexorable slide into ‘finis,’ a.k.a., ‘The End.’ In other words, sometimes this part of the year can be a tad, well, depressing. And writing doesn’t always help. Shoot, sometimes writing just makes it worse. How many times have each of us fallen into a morass of our own doing? Trouble with starting a story or even coming up with an idea. Characters just flailing about on the page. Dialogue that once sounded witty and urbane now sounds plain silly. You can’t . . . stop . . . revising. Or you come up with a fantastic ending to your current story, one that’ll launch your career, make you the toast of publishing, and in all your excitement you tell your best friend who says “Oh, that sounds just like (insert title) where (insert famous author) did the same thing! Ten years ago!”
Not that I’m trying to make anyone depressed or nuthin’. But let’s face it; this is a thankless hobby we’ve chosen. Especially when you add up the time and figure out all the other stuff you could’ve been doing. Learning to play the guitar. Finishing all those home improvement projects. Taking Swahili lessons, scuba diving, or a cooking class. Talk about a Greek tragedy. A Sisyphean task. You instead chose to do something that’s one-part masochism, one-part isolationism, and nine-parts head-banging frustration, interspersed with a helping spoonful of knowledge that a zillion other people are doing the SAME DAMN THING. Yes. Unlike playing the guitar, which requires, well, that you know how to play a guitar, everybody knows how to write. Theoretically, you’re competing against every single person who’s ever picked up a crayon. So what makes you so freaking special?
I’ll tell you what: when you do it, you do it better. And each successive time, you get even better than before. And when you drive to work, or run errands, or take a shower, or go jogging, or sit in a waiting room, or whatevuh, you’re always thinking about it. You have a head full of characters and plots and scenes and you spend an ungodly amount of time trying to figure out how to share them with others. Simply because it makes you happy.
In the end, this is what it boils down to. As our February speaker John Kachuba said in his presentation, “one day our carbon atoms will turn into daisies.” So until that time comes, when each of us settles in for a long, luxurious, dream-filled dirt nap, do what makes you happy. Write, revise, repeat. Write, revise, repeat. And make your own spring, every day.