My unproductive day off, or yeah yeah, it’s been a while since I blogged…

I'm totally writing a Claes Oldenburg-ish character into a future book. IT'S MY IDEA, HANDS OFF...

…and please curb your expectations, because I’m not yet ready to get aaaaaaaall the way back into the regular every-week-or-so blogging thing. I’m coming off a pretty intense round of revision, my kid’s adjusting to his crib by waking up 3 or 4 times a night, and I did a couple of raggedy posts over on EMU’s Debuts. Also, when my social media hiatus ended the vast power of my online addiction reasserted itself with terrifying speed, so I’ve been updating my Facebook status every 90 seconds. I’m busy, yo.

So yeah, I’m trying to reel it in and restore a feeling of moderation around here, but I feel vaguely inspired today. I had the day off, and nobody else in my family did, so for the first time in recent memory I was able to go do whatever I felt like doing. The ability to do that on a regular basis is something you toss overboard for a while when you start a family, of course, so I ain’t complaining, but it’s admittedly fabulous to get a day like that once in a while. Of course I had to screw it all up on a psychological level by agonizing over this question, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with: I kinda want to just goof around, but shouldn’t I use this time to write?

Most of the time I’d say “duh, yes,” because an entire day of writing time is a crazy, rare, wonderful thing, neh? And you gotta seize those opportunities! Discipline! Sacrifice! Park your flabby behind in that chair, Mike! Yes, yes, yes, of course, yes, that’s all true.

But, err, it’s okay to take a little time to goof around too, isn’t it? In fact, isn’t it reallyreally important? Yes babies, I have supporting documentation – observe this post that my agency/publisher compadre Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich made on the Spilling Ink website last fall. Also this follow-up post. Great stuff, huh?

These posts acquired an extra layer of relevance for me this past month as I barreled through that previously-mentioned high-intensity revision, but I loved them plenty enough before that. They ring SO true – I’ve always been a believer in the power and necessity of letting your creativity out for frequent rambles in the way Gbemi describes. I also think often of this interview with ICM agent Tina Wexler (who is another person I hold in high regard) when she implored aspiring authors to GO! DO!

These stairs totally lead into a villain's underground headquarters, right??

So I did, obedient little feller that I am. I spent the bulk of my day rambling around San Francisco. I took a picture of Claes Oldenburg’s 2002 public sculpture, Cupid’s Span, at the Embarcadero. I drove up to the Marina, browsed the shelves at Books Inc., and lunched on a fatty concoction of chicken-apple-sausage bagel-dog weirdness from the weak shadow of what was once Noah’s Bagels.

I also went to the De Young museum, where I took some time to goof around on Twitter before checking out the Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico exhibit. That was cool (if a bit lower on giant stone heads than I’d hoped for), but the real prize of my visit to the De Young was the Baliencaga and Spain exhibit, which I didn’t expect to get much out of. I am neither knowledgeable about nor terribly interested in fashion, but I thought eh, I’ll give it a whirl (mostly because I’d already paid for it with the Olmec special admission). Wonder of wonders, it was terrific, partly because they really hooked me with that whole “Picasso of fashion” thing, but mostly because the exhibit did a great job of showing how Cristobal Baliencaga wove so many things into his work as a fashion designer – the culture and history of his native land, his status as an exile during the Spanish civil war, flamenco music, the subculture of professional bullfighting, the dresses worn by the princess and her attendants in the immortal Vasquez painting Las Meninas, and of course the immense and enduring influence of the actual Pablo Picasso.

I looked at all of it. I took pictures of the art, the architecture, and the people. I pondered the relationship between music played in rural fields and dresses paraded down the runways of France. I stood on the base of a giant rendition of Cupid’s bow. I watched the ferry boats leave the docks, and I saw a man in a fuzzy silver jumpsuit and three-foot-tall bunny ears ride a unicycle past the Gap corporate headquarters. I didn’t write at all. And that’s not the choice I’d make with most of my days off – in fact it’s not a choice I’d make with very many of them at all. The opportunity to write for an extended period is, for the most part, too good to pass up. But once in a while you gotta do it. So today, I think my choice to not write was, perversely, the best thing I could have chosen to do for the sake of my writing. Funny, eh? Not ha-ha funny, more like “Mike, whoa dude, you are so incredibly profound, I stand in awe of your wisdom” funny…

Please don’t punch me in the face because of that last part,


8 thoughts on “My unproductive day off, or yeah yeah, it’s been a while since I blogged…

  1. hey! thank you for the shout out! and that sounds like a very productive,, awesome day indeed. you did a different kind of writing (at least three books, as far as i can tell), and most of all, it was well played, my friend. very well played.

  2. I remember one writer talking about the material we write is like scooping out of a soup pot. You can scoop it dry and need to go out into the world and live and fill your soup pot! Yea, for you for doing a day of refreshment!

    1. I really do think it’s true, Sue. You gotta replenish the soup pot, and you also have to let the soup simmer for a while. Both are good reasons for seizing opportunities to goof around sometimes.

  3. Nice to see you in the blogging world again, Mike, and I’m so glad you took the time to goof off. Nothing wrong with that! Ideas need time to percolate inside your subconscious while you’re doing something else. Did that make sense? Maybe I need some downtime myself…

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