I’m sure you know how it goes.
You are working on a project. A long term one. Longer than you planned at first, perhaps – but sometimes things have their own way of stretching into something else, and… and… oh, you do know how it goes.
Only, then you take the smallest of vacations. You spend three days, say, in Florence – and, among all the sunlit beauty and fascinating history, one little minor story waves at you (from a terracotta plaque, say) and begs to be brought home. And when you google up the bare essentials, you find that the story is very, very promising… Out comes your trusty notebook, and you jot down a few notes over a cup of tea. Or you think of it as “jotting down a few notes” until your travelmate asks have you finished, and hasn’t your tea gone all cold by now, and can you go already?
Which is how you know that your innocent little idea may have bigger claws than you suspected at first.
Oh well. You go ahead with your day, and make a decent job of convincing yourself that you don’t have to worry. Even when you spend most of the train journey home researching the fellow from the terracotta plaque – even then, you still believe it’s all right. You’ll laugh about your own naivety later. A slightly bitter laugh.
Because then you are home, and supposed to go back to the long term project, the unfinished thing that really shouldn’t be unfinished by now, and you were supposed to come back from Florence refreshed and ready to tackle it again…
And oh, you are refreshed – and eager to write. Only, not the long term thing – that, if it’s all the same to you, will be henceforward known as the LTT.
So you find yourself in that oh-so-unpleasant situation, trying to work on the LTT, and the LTT sulks, because you are going at it less than half-heartedly… But then, there is the New Story constantly yapping in the background, demanding attention, demanding to be written, written, written…
And you know yourself, and your stories, and how there is no reasoning with the little pests when they are all new and shiny… so you compromise. You bargain. You will devote the daily freewriting to the New Story, as long as the rest of your writing time is for the LTT.
The first day you do your freewriting, then spend the rest of your writing time staring alternatively at the LTT on the computer and the notecards pinned on the vintage metal firescreen you use for the purpose. Later that night you find yourself listing possible scenes and the lovely names of painting pigments. Renaissance painting pigments, you see. And all the time you feel like a cheating spouse.
In the days that follow, you try to wrestle the arrangements into some sort of functionality, and breathe a little better when the LTT manages to stay at the forefront – which is most days but not all…
And then Thursday comes, and you post about it, so you can whine a little, and you’d better stop here, and go back to your stories – your LTT, if you had an ounce of sense, because there are deadlines, you know, and just where did azurite come from?… oh dear. Oh dear.
Yes, yes – you all know how it goes, don’t you?