If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, online or otherwise, you know I’m a shopper. I’m that shopper who will wander around in the store actively looking for things to buy, and will take a third and fourth turn around to make sure I didn’t overlook something. It’s not that I arrive with a list: it’s that I arrive with a determination to buy something. Usually something I don’t need (or don’t need immediately)…or is that wrong?
After my recent Croc and Old Navy shopping frenzy, I gave some thought to why I actually spent an extra half hour in the Croc store looking for another pair that wasn’t hideous (not another pair I loved, but that I could live with) and why, even after I filled my bag with garments at Old Navy, and tried them on to eliminate what didn’t work, I still took another stroll around the store looking for something else (you’ll be happy to know I talked myself out of the burgundy corduroy jeans – though I might talk myself back into them). I have come to the conclusion that I periodically need a change of self-scenery. After a couple months of wearing the same clothes, even putting them in different combinations, I start to get tired of seeing the body flaws that are apparent in each outfit. And I start to get lazy. I don’t give any thought to what will accentuate good parts, or what color combinations might be new and interesting, or even how a different pair of shoes might shake things up a little. I get lazy and dull. I don’t take any care with putting things away properly. Laundry, clean and dirty, piles up in heaps in corners. I end up wearing the same pair of shoes every day for six weeks. So I go shopping, looking for something that will rejuvenate my self-image and by default my energy in caring for myself.
I had never likened my shopping habits to my writing habits, but the more I thought about the reasons why I shop, the more I started to see patterns in writing, too. If you’ve ever glanced at my available books list, or know anything about my WIP list, you might’ve noticed how varied they are. Paranormal contemporary, historical western, fairytale punk (a new genre recently coined on Twitter! I forget who, please come forward because I love it!)…well. The short version is I need the same variety in writing and reading that I need in my closet. The writing and reading variety keeps cobwebs from gathering in my head, keeps the ideas from wrinkling in piles around the house, keeps me feeling good about my ability to pull off something.
This isn’t a blog about accepting your inner genre-hopper or your inner shopaholic, but it is a blog about thinking why you do certain things. I’ve mentioned before I’m not much of a plotter. I don’t really think about why I’m steering characters in one direction or another. When I hit the point that I need to start making decisions, I start to struggle because I have to think ahead and consider different possibilities going forward – not easy if you’re an after-the-fact reflector instead of a before-the-fact planner (Inez, I’m thinking of you and your proposal). I’m trying to do some more before-the-fact planning (making sure the dishes are clean the night before so I can make breakfast in the morning, for example, writing a blog post way in advance of when it’s due, jotting notes on characters and their surface relationships so I have something to fall back on if movement slows down) so I’m not scrambling to figure out what went wrong later. It feels a little like spinning my wheels, though, like I’m doing maintenance things instead of progress things, so I’m not sure how much of life/writing is able to be managed this way. Maybe I’m just going through a transitionary period of getting the house in order and once it’s in order, progress will happen? We’ll see.
In the meantime, while I’m organizing and waiting eagerly for cooler weather so I can wear my purple corduroy shirt dress, while I’m banging away at one story and longing for NaNoWriMo (yes, I KNOW it’s early) so I have an excuse to write like a maniac and ignore my closet again for a month, why don’t you tell me what reflective self-realizations you’ve come to recently. Go ahead. Nobody will tell you you’re a slob or anything.