Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer's Fane – A Season in Progress

It's been in introverted/introspective time here at the Fane—quite a bit going on, but little to actually report. As was the case last year, summer feels as if it should be a season of growth and activity, of the sort that takes me outside and into a world of self-made adventure. This is as much for my writing as it is for my general health. The fresh air and sunlight don't just boost my mood, they help fuel my imagination, and they serve as a wonderful backdrop to what will hopefully become compelling scenes and plot points in future works. Maybe it's the warm weather, loosening up the creative muscles that are too often cramped and frozen in place; perhaps it's just the playful spirit which harkens back to summer vacation of childhood years past. At any rate, it feels like a time for activity, as if those creative juices should find their impetus in the bright summer sun—in reality, I've never spent so much time indoors.

Even in the arctic blast of a winter we endured, I still managed to get out more often than I have been as of late. It hasn't been the sort of seclusion which featured heavily in years past, however—I'm not avoiding the outside world, but rather finding myself simply more focused on activities here at home. I've been writing a great deal more, some of it proving upon review to be the sort of work I've always dreamt of doing. And I've been reading regularly, a habit I had only too recently lamented having let slip. Another habit I've let slip, with even more fierce recrimination, is blogging. It's been two full months since my last post, and I should like very much to see the end of 2014 without another such lapse. So, that having been said, I think an update is in order, before these recent bout of writing takes me over completely, and/or fishing season makes for another long hiatus until autumn arrives.

On Writing and Routine

I've long desired to become the sort of writer who, possessed of a certain degree of discipline, worked precisely when he meant to, and not according to the fickle whims of his inspiration. Much as it thrills to work under the direction of one's Muse, it's a far from reliable method. I've found that it's important to take heed when inspiration strikes—ideas have a pitiably short shelf-life—but it's also integral that I establish a regular routine, so that by sitting down with pen in hand I am in fact triggering the creative process, letting my brain know it's time to get down to work. 

As has apparently become a summer tradition, I'm once again reading about Ernest Hemingway. I offer neither defense nor excuse, at least not at this juncture. There is, I believe, as much to be said for the man as against, but that's another blog post altogether. For the moment, what matters are reports that his habit was to wake early in the day, so as to be at his desk by 6am. He would write until roughly noon, then tackle other important matters before heading off to the bar in the afternoon. 

Anyone who knows me knows full well that it's not generally in my nature to live according to a sensible schedule. My sleep cycle is haphazard at best, but as luck would have it said cycle happened to sync more or less with the average person's schedule. During this time, I made use of those quiet morning hours, and put Hemingway's method to the test.

I have yet to implement an alarm, as being jolted awake in the wrong phase of sleep can leave me feeling out of sorts for an entire day. However, provided I get to sleep at a reasonably early hour, I wake similarly early, and go about the day in this manner: First and foremost, I avoid media. It occurred to me that the programming axiom "Garbage In, Garbage Out" applies just as well to writing stories and the like—starting my day observing the outrage over Kendall Jenner's wardrobe choices just isn't conducive to the work at hand. So, foregoing Facebook, Twitter, and the news in general, I start with a light breakfast, and then head straight to my writing desk to start the day's work.

Would that I could add more detail, for anyone who might be looking for inspiration where their own routines are concerned, but that's honestly the long and the short of it. Wake up early, skip the drivel, and dive right into the work. I've added keeping track of daily word count, which has been helped encourage me by showing me just how productive I've been. I've also begun making use of the #WriteClub hashtag and participating in word sprints whenever the opportunity arises. Maybe there's something more to it, but I'm loath to over-analyse it. At the end of the day, I'm writing more, and I'm writing better. And, when I'm not writing, I'm doing a great deal more reading...

Everything Old is New Again

I feel at times more guilty than the average reader when it comes to revisiting favorite works as opposed to entertaining new titles or authors as often as I should. I make it a habit to re-read The Time Traveler's Wife every September, for example, and apparently enjoy reading Hemingway's works in the summertime. As I did last year, I'm reading Henry Miller, although last year it was the third book in his Obelisk Trilogy, Tropic of Capricorn, whereas this year I'm reading the first, Tropic of Cancer. But, as my introduction to Miller via Capricorn led me to my exhaustive study of Hemingway, this year I've been led instead to the works of Anais Nin, in the form of Anis Nin Reader, edited by Philip K. Jason. I've also been led to a painful and startling revelation: I don't read enough by female authors.

The reasons for this egregious imbalance are many, and again there might be cause for a separate post dedicated to exploring what amounts to tacit sexism on my part. For the moment, all I can do is protest my innocence, and declare an effort to rectify the problem. Thus far, I've read P. D. James's The Children of Men, with an eye on reviewing its laudable cinematic adaptation, and I've acquired Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which I plan to read once finished with Cancer and the Nin Reader. As these initial re-readings lead me to new territories, they will hopefully continue to encourage me in this way to grow not only as a reader, but as a man. 

On the Horizon

As the summer rolls on, I do expect to find myself venturing out of doors more often. So far, the heat has never been truly intolerable. I expect to acquire my fishing license in the next week or so, and it'll take more than a few trips to the lake to satisfy the urge to fish that's built up over the course of the year. I've amassed a sizable workload where Page to Screen reviews are concerned, and would like to begin adding blog posts to my daily routine. While I'm not entirely satisfied with my efforts to keep to my New Year's resolutions, I do feel quite close to the mark, which is good enough for me. And although I'm off the standard sleep cycle again, and spent the entire night awake, I managed to apply my new routine regardless, adding another 2,600+ words to the month's growing total. With the day's work effectively done, I think it's time for one of those outdoor ventures—it is a beautiful summer's morning, after all.