Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Plog 1: Outward Bound

April 25, 2008

Plog = Trip log, get it? These plogs are transcribed but not verbatim from stuff I scrawled in my notebook during my trip.

The 1:15 from Vineyard Haven -- the Martha's Vineyard -- chugging away from the slip -- I'm on my way! Packed an overnight bag for myself and a canvas satchel for the puppy I haven't met yet. Two small, slightly overbaked loaves of cranberry bread are in a paper bag, unwrapped because they're still warm -- one for Ellen and company, one to travel to Canandaigua. Puppy-size travel crate does fit into the back of the cab, but the maneuvering it takes to get it into place is not something I'd do with a puppy inside. Crate fits quite nicely on the front seat. Said bye-bye to (relatively) orderly apartment, probably bye-bye to order too. OTOH, focus is a wonderful thing, and lately I've been feeling a slow leak of focus from various unattended pores. Current editing job is taking too long -- it's not the hours I put into editing, it's the hours I put into not-editing. I'm making much more of a difference to this job than I make to my usual copyedits; it's not a copyedit, it's closer to a rewrite. It engages the writer side of my brain, and the writer side is discharging a continuous stream of comments which boil down more or less to "Is this what you're supposed to be doing with your writing time?" The upshot is that if I don't watch it I wind up neither writing nor editing but doing something high on the Procrastination Meter, like responding to non-essential e-mail or playing Spider.

Well, I've known for decades that I didn't want to write for a living, though I sure would like to get paid for my writing, now more than ever, and all the kicking and screaming and procrastinating signals that what I've known for decades is still true. Fortunately the subject is interesting, the client agreeable, so that's not the problem. The problem is that no matter how interesting someone else's stuff is, I'd rather be working on my stuff (or playing Spider or FreeCell or answering e-mail). For a brief while in my twenties I wanted to be a journalist. It wasn't till I went to work for the M. V. Times fifteen years later that I began to realize why journalism -- or at least reporting -- wasn't for me: I was less interested in who, what, where, when, why, and how for their own sake than in how they might affect my understanding about how the world works and my part in it. Features I could do, especially if I got to assign myself the stories, and editing other people's stories. I'm a columnist at heart. In my twenties I didn't have the experience or perspective to be a good columnist. Now I do.

I hope that Mud of the Place will eventually lead to, or open up, some opportunities to do that kind of commentary. Or show me where the opportunities are. And that, I think, is the source of my wavering focus: I'm not feeling a whole lot of enthusiasm from my publisher, e.g., several days ago I e-mailed my (pretty impressive) list of blurbs in hand and asked some specific questions about preparing the manuscript and so far I've heard nothing back. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, acting "as if," but the foots are getting slower and slower -- as if they know that if they march on too fast they'll get to the end of the road sooner and discover that there's no there there. So I haven't followed up with the cover artist, I haven't started working on the Mudsite, and I sure haven't started contacting local bookstores. Lethargy, lassitude -- it takes so much energy to keep my energy up that I don't have energy for much else.

Anticipating puppy is a good antidote. Better to focus on puppy than on book: this increases energy instead of draining it.

More puppy names

Traveller -- the name of two dogs of my youth, the first hit by a car and killed as a puppy, the second hit by a car when he was about a year old, after which one hind leg was useful mainly as a crutch but he lived an active and happy life and reached a fairly old age, twelve, I think. Maybe Traveller is too jinxed. I was thinking "Fellow Traveler" -- like compadre, compañero -> commie. Maybe not.

Sojourner

Journey -- sort of a neat name, though not thought of as a name. Eileen McGann singing "Be my journey."

Can you tell I'm on the road? Road -> Rhodry.

Maverick -- did I think of that before?

High-tech -- NOT

I had the best intentions of getting the cell phone working. It's charged 'n' all and I went into Cumby's looking for prepaid cards, of which there was a bewildering selection, and I don't know how they work anyway. The problem is that I looked at the manual and learned about SIM cards. The one in the phone is Peg's, and I have no idea what her PIN or password was, or even if she had one. Do I need a new one? Where does one buy the damn things? Radio Shack? Too many things to find out in too little time -- sometimes I recognize a sidetrack before I get stuck on it. I brought the phone along, but hey, how many times have I gone on the road without needing to make an emergency call? My brakes aren't going to fail just because I don't have a cell phone. Besides, Uhura's got four new tires and new ball joints on the front end. That's better juju than any damn cell phone.

 

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