Something unusual and entirely unexpected has happened in my neck of the woods. A long-term road improvement project had the effect of actually improving a road. I’m sure this is some massive bureaucratic oversight that will be corrected in the coming months, but for the time being, eliminating a pointless bottleneck on my morning commute has shaved fifteen minutes off my drive every morning. No kidding, one bottleneck, fifteen minutes.
What this means is fifteen minutes of my day that I don’t know what to do with. Yes, I know this is a good problem to have. This morning I played a stupid zombie infection Flash game, which was nicely mind-numbing, but doesn’t feel like a legitimate use of that time. I could set my alarm to go off fifteen minutes later, but fifteen minutes of extra sleep doesn’t seem worth it, especially because I’m sure I’d end up reading fifteen minutes longer each night figuring it balances.
So I’m going to try something really crazy.
I’m going to try writing during those fifteen minutes.
I’ve seen a lot of writers with day jobs suggest morning writing when trying to eek out bits of the day to wordsmith. Some who go so far as waking up at 5am to pound out a few thousand words. I’m not sure I’m going to go quite that crazy, but if I could get in a regular habit of five hundred words each workday before hopping in the car and joining the rat race each day, that’s 2500 words a week, and roughly 100,000 words over the course of a year, even if I took every day of leave I earn. That’s three or four novellas, or a novel, or 20 long short stories, 100 flash pieces, or more likely some combination of those. Assuming I can actually get my act together and do it.
That’s the rub. Actually doing it. Mornings are rough on my brain, and a big part of the experiment won’t be whether I can pound out 500 words before work, but whether those words will be of a quality worth keeping. That’s why I’m going to focus on rough drafts in the morning, getting down broad ideas, things that can be polished later in the day when my brain is more fully awake and capable of perhaps figuring out why I wrote “larble poop whee” that morning.
If things go poorly and the words I’m writing down aren’t worth keeping, I’ll likely discontinue the experiment. But not any sooner than two months down the road. I’m not going to give up just because I have a rough first week, that’s no way to approach any job, least of all writing. It’s going to take awhile to get one more routine into my brain each morning.
If things go well, I’ll keep going and have a lot of rough drafts that will need editing.
If things go brilliantly, I might try an even crazier experiment and even get up a little earlier and see what I can do with half an hour of writing time each morning.
I’ll be tracking my progress next week on Twitter, starting Tuesday (THREE DAY WEEKEND!). As always, I find baring my plans and progress create an odd sense of obligation, even if none of you have ever held me to it in the past.
ON AN UNRELATED NOTE
Nostalgia is a funny thing. The word itself, I mean. During the Civil War the definition was closer to what we would today call PTSD. Anyway, I’ve been looking for a word for years that I swear I heard defined once, but have never found again. It translated loosely to “nostalgia about an idealized past the feeler didn’t experience.” In the mainstream it would be used to define a typical American attitude towards the 1950s as a time of no evils. It’s the kind of word that I assumed would be German, but I’ve not found it if it is.
And yes, I realize this could be a definition of nostalgia itself, but I swear I once heard this word.
UPDATE: My wife has passed along the word Sehnsucht, which fits the criterion of being a German word and describing a form of nostalgia. It’s about 95% of the word I remember, which likely means it’s the word I heard and I don’t quite remember the definition correctly. Still, I’ll leave the question up in case anyone has a more likely suspect. A little further from the definition is the Portuguese word Saudade, which I am certain isn’t the word I heard.