Checking Out

by  Christian A. Brown  |  June 12, 2016  |     No Comments

I finally did it. I finally went on vacation. Not to Barcelona or any of the fancier places where last I ventured to rest my spirit and mind (not so much my body, on account of the buckets of sangria we drank while we were there—yikes!). Nearly every week when I talk to my publicist, Rachel, I tell her that I am, in some way, shape or form, planning to take time off. Although, said time never manifests. I step away for a day, then the manuscript or some other project starts an itch in my brain that must be scratched. I’m horrible at creating any kind of distance between myself and an active project. With two projects currently on the go (Chaos and Mercy), I’ve been pulled in twice as many directions. Also, I know that when you’re in the business of consumable media, which is what writing is, you need to be productive: keep your audience fed. I’m driven as much by the needs of others as I am by the need to spill the stories from my head.

Anyway, if you’ve been following along, you’d know that I’m over the ¾ mark of the final entry in Four Feasts Till Darkness. Most of the major plot revelations have bloomed: creationist myths, tales of primordial indigenous people, of ancient civilizations, of ancient sins, and of the great web that has been spun from a single, damning act (well, a chain of damning acts, I suppose). Everything has at last been laid bare for the reader and our heroes. When it came time to pick up the manuscript this week, I realized how great those tasks had been to orchestrate, and how mentally exhausted I was. Yes, I could hammer out the prose, as I’m so fond of sermonizing is the way to get any kind of professional writing done. However, I could also do Jack Squat. Jack won this time.

That’s the thing when you’re self employed, you have to schedule your own time off, and often you have no concept of how people working 9-5 days partake in leisure. For me, there is no “weekend”. It’s writing > exercise > cleaning > blogging > articles on Sunday, and…repeat. I can’t remember the last time that I haven’t been near a keyboard. So I did it: I vacated from my work. Didn’t touch the new manuscript. My email responses have been sluggish and full of predictive text errors (sorry!), since I’ve been replying on my phone. My decision to take a summer break was compounded by an email from my final copy-editor, who informed me that her mother had died and she would be a week or two behind schedule on account of that tragedy. Died from lymphatic cancer, of all fucking diseases—same as my dear Cynthia. I took that as a sign, a blessing, or just a coincidence that while we have finite time, we still have to stop the motion of our perpetually degrading bodies and simply be.

I tried a bit of that this week: being. It’s incredibly boring at first, and I was always looking for tasks to do. Needless to say, the house was spotless all week. Still, soon I began to notice things: glittering dust floating in the soft incandescence that bleeds in through our white drapes; nuances and new words in music; or how cute my cats can be, and how they love and play with each other and without my notice for most of the day. I honestly thought they slept from dawn till dusk. Only I wasn’t paying attention to them when I was so engrossed in my world. I wasn’t noticing life.

Last night, I watched the rise and fall of my partner’s chest while he slept. Today, the wafting aroma of my coffee smelled like almonds and dark chocolate. I don’t know if I would have noticed these things before: the simple perfections of our world. But I’m noticing them now. When you live in fantasy, or work, or a cycle of any kind for so long, you only know that loop. So even if I’ve lost a week of prose that I may never reclaim before my time comes, I’ve regained my perspective. I’ve remembered why I write, and of what I write: beauty, love and living (and all the bad stuff that unfortunately balances that out). Don’t you forget, either.

All my love,

—C

P.S. In case you missed it, the tidbit of disappointing news sandwiched in my post was that Feast of Chaos will be delayed by a couple of weeks. Probably into August, though, and not much longer.

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