I worked on my manuscript this weekend. Doesn't that sound impressive? You too can dazzle your friends with that kind of statement. Here's how: just print out a bunch of stuff you've written and stick it in a manilla folder. If you want to be really ambitious, you can buy a black binder with a special clippy thing. You don't have to actually work on it, just carry it around and refer to it as "my manuscript." Yep. You will be amazed how much credit you can get for just carrying around a bunch of papers.
The drawback is that once in awhile someone might ask you to actually come up with something to read from the manuscript. It happens. For instance, next week, I'm going to a conference in Southern City Where I'm Hoping It Will Be Warm. And I made a commitment long ago, like last spring or something, to read a chapter of the manuscript at the conference. I had, theoretically, months and months of time to write this chapter, including the whole summer, but it wasn't until after election day, after I was able to breathe a sigh of relief that our country might finally be headed in the right direction, that I looked at the to-do list on my desk and thought, "Oh, yeah. Guess I better write something."
So that's what I've been doing. I began on Friday by taking out a clean new manilla folder and a fresh yellow legal pad. (I seriously have some kind of fetish for office supplies.) I wrote the title of the chapter — Snake Dreams— on the side of the manilla folder. I didn't write anything new, exactly, because that would be way too much work, but I've been piecing together bits of writing, including some old blog posts — mixing, matching, and re-arranging in hopes a theme will emerge. I guess I'm hoping that the theme will in some way match the title that has already been inserted into a printed program for the conference, but I don't let those kind of details worry me too much.
I keep reading the pieces aloud, a habit that has stayed with me after years of writing poetry, a practice I find very helpful even though it makes me look like the crazy woman who talks to herself. I keep changing my mind about which pieces I want to include. I keep coming up with brilliant new ideas. Like ... maybe I should wear a cape to the conference! Wouldn't that be cool?
My husband is out of town, the weather has been dark and rainy, and it's been a good weekend to stay at my desk. In between bouts of writing, I've hung out in the living room with the gang of teenage boys, who are having some kind of geekfest with laptops and light sabers, and who say, "That's what she said," so often that I'm worried the phrase is going to sneak into my chapter. Although come to think of it, sexual innuendo isn't such a bad theme. Maybe I could work it in there....