"What are you doing?"
"Well, it doesn’t look like something."
I had a lot of conversations like this in school with teachers that usually led to one of those "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of lectures. Sadly, my footwear never came with "bootstraps," so needless to say my school years weren’t my best. Daydreaming was an issue that I didn’t shift until I went to college. Now the daydreaming is back–in career form (of sorts). Daydreaming is even tax deductible. You just can’t daydream without a bag of Ruffles in your hand.
Now that one book is in the bag and I’m embarking on the next, I’m in that daydreaming faze, where I’m piecing ideas, themes, scenes and other stuff together before I start outlining.
Normally, when Julie comes home at night, I’m banging away at the keyboard and she knows her little man has been hard at it since 9a.m. At the moment, when she comes home, I’m stretched out in front of the TV with a cat or two on my chest.
"What have you been up to today?"
"It doesn’t look like you’re working. It looks like you’re vegging out."
"I’m being conceptual. I’m forming a story, wrapping my head around the idea. You know me, measure twice, cut once."
"So it’s been a DVD day."
"No, it hasn’t." I sit up and a kitten slithers off my chest. "I have been working. I’m mulling things through is all."
"Simon, what’s that pile of Dr. Who DVDs sitting on the floor?"
"And this empty Ruffles bag?" she says, picking it up.
"Brain food." I snatch the bag from Julie and aim a sleepy kitten at her. "Julie, you have no idea about the creative process. I am mulling. Mulling is an important part of the writing process. Now move, I can’t see the TV."
Julie’s an angel, but she can be mean sometimes–don’t you think?
The problem is that we live in a quantifiable world. We need results. Tactile ones at that. When I’m in the throes of a book and Julie asks, "How much have you done?" I can answer, "Twelve pages," or "Three thousand words" or "Two chapters." These are things the world and Julie can hang their hats on. Me included. I like quantifiable. There’s traction. Forward motion. Progress. Industry. A paycheck.
Mulling doesn’t inspire the same response. Mulling is intangible–like air. It’s there, but you canât see it. But just try and go through a day without it, and you (and I’m looking at you, my old teachers and Julie) will be begging me for some of that intangible stuff. Yeah, too bloody right you will.
So I’m mulling and I’m going to take my time with it. There’s no point in going off half-mulled. That would be ridiculous.
I think I’ve explained myself sufficiently. Now where did I put my Ruffles and those kittens?
Yours in front of the TV,
PS: I’m attending my first LA Times Festival of Books. It should be a lot of fun. If you’re making the trip to the UCLA campus this weekend. This is where I’ll be signing this Saturday.
Crime Time Books (booth #355) 11:00am-noon
Sisters in Crime (booth #355) 2:00pm-4:00pm
Book ‘Em (booth #441) 4:00pm-5:00pm