Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First of June and... crap

Sometimes writing is a lot like cleaning up dog shit. And I don’t mean nice, neat little turds either. I mean liquid, nasty ass black and green junk that smells like it crawled out the ass end of a skunk with traveler’s diarrhea and a bad attitude. It’s great of course when writing isn’t like this: when the character’s are flowing, the narrative voice is working, the words and metaphors tie together and ring true. It’s a high. It’s endorphins. It’s bliss of the purest kind.

But a lot of days, we writers clean up dog shit.

One thing I’ve learned lately is that the words we transcribe are not sacrosanct. Neither is the order in which they appear. Nor are the scenes. We might have to murder our darlings and this is hard to do. Much like it’s hard to go out in the mudroom on a hot summer day and start scraping liquid manure into a plastic bag with your bare hands and a butt-load of paper towel. But eventually the shit stench will drive you out of the house and into a homeless, babbling idiot on the street. And how cool does that sound? “I couldn’t clean up the dog shit, so now I’m homeless, jobless, and wearing a trashcan lid on my head so the government can’t steal my thoughts.” Rather than let the eau de dog, or eau de writing, drive you from your home, instead go in prepared and armed.

First, unless it’s absolutely necessary, for instance, your mother-in-law is coming to visit, don’t hit the mess right away. It might sound gross, but hot dog shit is harder to pick up than cold. Similarly, hot writing might be too hot to handle. It’s too new, too close to the bone, still bleeding on the page. Only tackle writing that has had time to cool. Unless of course there’s a deadline in the form of your mother-in-law. Then… the gods help you.

Second, go in with what you’ll need. Take the time while the shit is cooling to collect yourself and what you’ll need for the job. Paper towel, any pertinent research, carpet or floor cleaner, a rosary (if the stench is bad enough), and a whole lot of deep breathing, preferably through your mouth to avoid the major olfactory nerves. Think long and hard about how you’ll tackle the project and be as prepared as you can be.

Third, take a deep breath, maybe holding it, and jump in. Go page by page, scrape by scrape, and don’t be afraid to jump outside and puke. Keep what you can and throw the rest in a plastic bag to burn. Don’t throw out the entire carpet just because one corner is bad. Cut off the corner and smooth it down, don’t just hide it with sofa. And when it’s over, you’ll realize that either a) it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought, because you were prepared and had all the right tools, or b) you need to utilize the yellow pages and find a good Haz-Mat team.

I wish I had all the answers but, ladies and gents, some days its all good and others… well, butt-loads of paper towel.


Search White Pages said...
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Rowenna said...

Hehe gotta love the moments when you call in the HazMat team :)