When my husband and I honeymooned in Bermuda, I carried the NEO everywhere. There was a notebook in my suitcase but I didn’t really use it. I just worked on the NEO, typing furiously for the sake of typing. After a day of sightseeing with the NEO in my bag, my back would ache. I have scoliosis and so naturally, I’m a little off-balance. Having a bag with a 2-lb word processor shoved inside isn’t really helping. Lately, I’ve been leaving the NEO at home and just going around with a notebook in my bag. The thing is, my bag was purchased specifically with the NEO in mind. It’s a bit bulkier than I would like. With barely anything in it, it’s still heavy. So I bought a smaller, slimmer version that is more of a writing bag. I can keep my planning/idea notebook in one pocket and my regular writing notebook in another pocket. There’s plenty of room for pens. The good thing about traveling with a notebook (at least in my mind) is that I’m not as crazy about the output. It’s a lot harder to handwrite 10,000 words than it is to type 10,000 words. I also find that when I’m writing in a notebook, I focus more on the story. I’m not as desperate to churn out pages upon pages. I take my time. I linger a little more. As long as the notebook has college-ruled pages and isn’t that small in size, it’s perfect for carrying around.
Last week (or the week before) I thought about doing a novel-in-stories but I’m really used to writing long-form stories now. I like it better. And then I was thinking about making sure that every paragraph was at least 500 words but those restrictions were getting to me. So yesterday, I started writing more freely. I’m still thinking about the story and taking my time but I’m not panicking over whether the piece is a short story or how many words it is. It’s just part of an ongoing project. I want to make the story as good as it can be. Plus, I was thinking about maintaining my writing momentum when I’m working on a piece while away from home and giving myself a bit more emotional freedom can only be beneficial. When I was in Miami a few years ago, I spent the whole time worrying about a project I was working on that was a series of short stories. I got bored writing variations of the same plot, over and over again. I wanted to write about something different. So I’m giving myself permission. I’m saying, “Capria, stop worrying.” Hopefully, I listen to myself.
There’s a simple reason why I’m always changing my mind/direction/whatever. It’s because I want to write about everything. I see so many things that get stuck in my head and I want to throw them all into my writing as one great hodgepodge. I want to experience everything, then write about it. But the thing is, my relentless pursuit of giving everything equal space is sort of impossible. If I were to spend the same amount of time on every single tiny thing I encounter that interests me, I’d never be able to sleep, eat, go to the bathroom, anything. I’d be at the mercy of my writing. So there needs to be a balance between the story at hand and the various things I see that interest me. I feel like it all has a place but not all of it necessitates an entire book on that specific object.
And now, an excerpt:
“You and I visit Acapulco. The flight is long but we make it just in time to watch the ocean swell. We get off the airplane and go directly to the highest building in the city overlooking the water. [I want to be within it,] you say and reach for the foaming water. You rest your head on my shoulder and I reach behind you to grab your hair. Your hair needs to be conditioned. It’s horribly coarse. I worry that if I touch your hair the wrong way, all the strands will drop out of your scalp with a cascade of plucking sounds. You kiss me on the cheek. [Do you miss our livers being attached,] you ask but I don’t answer. I watch the ocean lift up and drop. The bodies on the beach don’t pay attention to how the water bloats, then thins out.”