Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gnats and Other Pesky Notions, Redux

Because my contribution is due the weekend I'm at an author signing somewhere else, I'm cheating a bit and recycling parts of a post I wrote last fall. It's deep, profound, and thoughtful, and it's about gnats.

Yes, gnats.

It started this way:

In my town, October brought a stretch of perfect autumn weather: long sunny afternoons, cool crisp nights. The leaves turned gorgeous shades of red, gold, and auburn, and covered walkways with crispy piles. Perfect weather for long walks to stretch muscles stiff from sitting in front of a computer all day. Except for one thing.

The gnats. Starting about two hours before sundown, blue gnat swarms built under trees, over shrubs, along sidewalks. How do I know the gnats were blue? Because after a walk, I'd shake dozens of them off my sweater, hair, scarf, anything they could cling to. Breathing, talking - anything that required an open mouth – became downright unwise.

Well, they're baaa-ack. It's October, the weather here is gorgeous, and the furry blue gnats are back. I brought a few home with me tonight, shaking them out of my blouse before coming in the door. 

Last year, they served as a metaphor for the writing process:

It started me thinking about the blue gnat swarms that can attack during the writing process - or any creative work. You know how it is: you're cruising along writing your thousand words a day, loving your work, basking in it like our fall sunshine, then BAM! You're swatting and snorting out gnats of fear, insecurity, envy, procrastination, and did I mention fear?

So you can close the door on that beautiful day to hide from the gnats, or you can figure out ways to keep them at bay until they naturally subside again. 

I've been debating whether to do NaNoWriMo for the fifth time this year. Re-reading this, I think I'd better: 

National Novel Writing Month.... is the equivalent of plunging unprotected into the gnat swarms: fifty thousand words in thirty days, damn the gnats, full speed ahead! Sure, you've got to shake hordes of them out of your prose come December first, but it's awfully fun while you're at it. 

And I closed with this - still true, I think.

Whatever you do to keep the gnats at bay, or to storm your way through them, just don't let them prevent you from venturing into the sunshine and beautiful colors of your own creative process. Come cooler weather, they'll go away on their own, you'll have good work to show for your perseverance, and you’ll be ready to face the random ice patches of winter.


Elizabeth Fountain is the author of An Alien's Guide to World Domination and You, Jane. You can find out more about her thoughts on writing, baseball, and the annoying bugs of life at her blog, Point No Point.