The Corner of Concentration

I was just settling into place, unpacking my laptop and stuff at the coffee shop corner community table. (Saint Seata had rewarded me again — thank you, Saint Seata. Now, if the muses will cooperate (yeah, they’re even required when editing and revising.)

A young woman approached. “Are you expecting someone else or saving these seats?”

“No, join me.” I indicate the rest of the table.

“Thank you. I like working at this table.” She’s unpacking her computer as she speaks. “I get a lot of work done here and it has a plug.”

Yeah, people call it a plug, but it’s an outlet, innit? Whatever; she’s young. I reply, “Yes, I notice that people who work in this corner tend to be focused. I call it the corner of concentration.”

“The corner of concentration, I like that,” she says with laughter. “You have a good vibe. I like it.” Before I can do anything more than smile, she says, “I’m a writer.”

“What are you writing?” I ask.

“A cookbook.”

“Oh, cool.”

“It’s for women and will have recipes for women to help them manage their energy for different situations.”

“Sounds like an interesting idea. Good luck.”

“Thanks. What’re you doing in the corner of concentration?”

“I’m a writer, too.”

“Oh, what do you write?”

“I’m working on a novel.”

“Is it fiction?”

Isn’t a novel by definition a work of fiction, I don’t say, because I’m non-confrontational and I don’t want to spoil my good vibe. “Yes.”

“What’s it about?”

“It’s a speculative novel about life and memories.”

“Interesting. I think I want to write a novel someday.”

She goes off to get her coffee. I sit down, take my first sip, and settle in.

Time to write like crazy, one more time.

A Chaotic Collage Dream

It was messed up from go, a frenzied and frantic circus. It took me a while to work into any semblance of coherent structured memory, and I could be wrong. Then, again, this is what I took from it, so…

The dream included Mom, wife, peeing, being in the military (yeah, again), cleaning, and, well, chaos.

Chaos was the overall theme. In the beginning, I needed to use the restroom. After I did, Mom came in to clean after me while I changed into my Air Force uniform and hurried off to work as my wife kissed me good-bye.

I was in command and control once again. Once again, I faced a disorganized situation. Aircraft were inbound. Some carried VIPs, but an inspection team was also due, and we were not ready. I scrambled to get us ready, working up checklists and procedures, trying to train other people, and setting up flight-following boards. This was being done against radios blaring with communications with commanders and aircraft, and ringing telephones.

Then I had to use the restroom again. Rushing over there, I found the facilities inadequate, but my bowels didn’t care. Lowering myself to the tiny seat on the tiny bowl, I did my business. When I finished, I discovered I’d pissed on the floor.

As I discovered that, old women who were present chided me, “Oh, your mother isn’t going to be happy about that.” Well, no, d’uh? Who would be? I rushed to clean it up using white towels, but there seemed too much of it for the towel, and it was taking up too much time.

Mom arrived, as the women predicted (and noted). While chastising me for the mess, Mom shooed me away (“Go to work, I’ll clean it up.”) She dropped to her knees to clean the floor as I donned my uniform again and raced away.

My wife intercepted me to tell me that there was a problem. As she did that, my co-workers called out to inform me that the aircraft were arriving. Then the commander called me and said, “There’s a change of plans.” Oy, vey,

The dream ended.

Yeah, I see how it all speaks to my current frenzy of thought and direction.

Beetroot Juice Insights

My wife pursues an eternal quest to improve our health. Frequent new food stuffs are introduced to the home. I usually try them to observe what impact they seem to have on me as well as how they taste.

Not all work out. Our pantry has a shelf of forgotten foods and drinks that neither of us adopted as part of our normal diet habits. I think one jar is marked “Best By Oct 2003”. We can’t bring ourselves to throw it out. We’re just too sentimental.

Today, I give you beetroot juice.

Beet juice, according to WebMD, is supposed to be terrifically healthy. Well, juice from the root is supposed to be even better, a superfood that will amaze you.

Okay, we said, buying some from our local heath food store. Amaze us.

It comes in a fine, whitish powder form, like chalk. Adding the desired amount to a glass of water and stirring gives you a red drink that looks like cherry Kool-Aid.

It don’t taste like cherry Kool-Aid.

It tastes like beets. That’s not a problem, if you like eating soiled old socks. I know that I probably seem old-fashioned, but I take exception to the taste of socks in my mouth.

But holy-moly, the beetroot juice has a kick. 

The first time that I drank it, it was like I’d been injected with niacin. I felt flushed and hot. Every pore was utilized to let the sweat burst out of me. I drank it late in the evening. That wasn’t a good idea; I then had too much energy to sleep, as if I’d had a quint-shot mocha right before going to bed.

We’ve learned that this isn’t an uncommon reaction. Besides that, we discovered that our beetroot drinking should not be done around the same time as our coffee drinking. Some people suggested drinking beetroot instead of coffee. Oh, how we laughed as we plotted on how to eliminate people making such cruel suggestions.

The coffee wasn’t given up. I moved my beetroot drinking to the late afternoon. My reaction isn’t as severe as that first venture, but let me tell you, it’s like my brain has been vacuumed clean and my senses have been blown out. My thinking and memory both seem sharper. My creativity level seems to have been kicked to another level, too.

I’m more ambivalent about its impact on my dreams. I already dreamed and remembered my dreams (or imagined that I did), and this beetroot juice seems to have me dreaming with my clarity and remembering them with more details.

It could be a coincidence, but my writing output jumped after I started drinking the beetroot juice. I typically typed about twelve to fifteen hundred words a day. Now I’m typing twenty-five hundred to thirty-five hundred a day. I’m typing an extra half hour because I just don’t want to stop. That’s a significant difference over a ten day period.

It also helped my walking output. I’d been riding a streak of sixty miles per week the day that I began drinking the beetroot juice. I frankly didn’t think I’d be able to sustain it for another week, which was a bummer. But the beetroot juice revitalized me, so I’ve now gone six weeks averaging sixty miles a week.

The one drawback that I’ve noticed is that the beetroot juice doesn’t go with other foods, especially anything sweet, and especially bananas. I swear, I’ll never eat a banana and drink beetroot juice again.

Bank on that. 

The Effect

Sometimes, there’s an effect. You notice it but you’re not sure how to categorize it.

For example, after purchasing my coffee, I settled in at a table to write. A woman occupied the next table. From the very beginning, she emanated a dark and heavy presence. At least, that’s how I felt it. Both uncomfortable and distracting, I was pleased when a friend joined her after ten minutes and they moved to another table on the other side of the shop. The area immediately felt lightened, relieved.

Weird, too, but it seemed like the muses didn’t want to come while she was at the next table. Is it possible for someone to literally repel the muses?

Of course, all of this could be my imagination, or it could’ve been her energy’s reaction against my energy. She had backpacks, too, so maybe something in her backs was the actual source. Whichever it is, I’m pleased that she relocated. Maybe she resented me sitting next to her, and I felt it. Maybe it was my energy that encouraged her to relocate.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

The Day

the day sparkles

hidden meanings and forgotten truths

reveal themselves

flashes of light

 

the day hums

energy and hope

turning everything

leaves of brightness that speak

infinite possibilities

 

the day sings

high, crisp notes

vaulting the sky

joining the stars

lifting souls

new arenas of thought

 

***

I’m in the coffee shop. I turned and looked out the window. There’s an indoor pool below. Sunshine rebounds off the pool’s waves, catching my attention. Wind rifles through the spring’s full, majestic trees. Sunshine flashes off the leaves as they twirl and bounces off car windshields, stinging my eyes.

I think and I write. Then I look again. Sunshine still lights the day, but its left the pool and the leaves, rendering me amused about looking out the window at just the right moment and angle to see.

 

Coupling

It’s been three joyous writing (and editing) days. Having one such day always energizes and intoxicates me. Returning to life’s normal routines and patterns afterward is deflating.

But then, coupling three days together feeds the highs, giving me a sensation of feeling invincible and omnipotent. It’s empowering but frightening because it must be kept in context for what it is.

That energy can’t help but spill over into other things. It stirs something that’s deeper and more primal in me. The short and long of it is that I’m accomplishing, creating something tangible from my mind’s energy and my physical exertion, and that is rewarding. I set a goal, and I’m working toward accomplishing that goal. When successful progress and its accompanying energy continues over three days, this sense parlays into a belief that I can do anything, because, hey, look how good the writing and editing is progressing. Woo-hoo.

Common sense helps ground me. Writing (and editing) and the rest of life aren’t the same. Thinking of this reminds me of some hotel chain’s commercials. They went along the lines of, “Let me operate.”

“You’re a doctor?”

“No, but I got a great night of rest.”

It’s all about how you feel, and the self-confidence that it stirs. I think the chain was Holiday Inn Express.

Meanwhile, however, some of my mind views all this with deep suspicion. “Maybe you’re fooling yourself,” at least one advisor whispers. “You’re probably not that good.”

It’s an amusing proposition because it demands that I hold two contrary ideas in mind, that I am that good, and that I’m not that good. Parts of my writing is probably amazing, and parts are probably crap. This is a draft, and I’m the writer, and I wrote it for me, so if I enjoy it as a reader, mission accomplished. It’s natural that others will dislike it, not get it, enjoy it or not, decide that it’s, “Okay,” (shudder), or love it. None of that’s within my control except that I wrote it for me, and I enjoy it.

Am I conning myself? You bet! But I think I’m also being realistic. I know, too, that I’ll probably encounter days when I feel sick about reading what I wrote because it needs a lot of work.

Accepting that I must stop now is a reluctant choice. I love the immersion of writing and editing my novels. I know myself, though, and my writing process, and its capricious nature. I know that going out on a high helps sustain progress because I feed off expectations created by past success.  It at least makes it easier to get to the document the next day.

So, sadly, but joyously, time to stop writing editing like crazy, one more time.

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