When I was a kid, one of my favorite things in the world was to go with a friend to her aunt’s home. This aunt had a pool. A real pool, mind you. Not one purchased from Kmart’s front curb (Or 3D—how many of you remember the store 3D???). Not one that my dad would throw in the back of his pickup with turtles or overweight fish decals painted on the sides.
And not one that had to be blown up.
And not one that had to be filled before the sides would stay up.
A real pool. With a filter and a ladder and floating bleach tablets—the whole nine yards.
It even came with rules.
The number one rule was don’t pee in the pool.
The other rule that was shouted by the aunt and the cousins and the uncle was: No in and out. Get in and stay in—or—Get out and stay out. (Unless you really had to pee…)
When I was little, I thought this rule was for our comfort. Because once you get out, getting back in was rough. Temperature changes and all. And once you were in, getting out was rough for the same reason, especially on overcast or breezy days.
I realized during our *nice try* attempt at a pool hybrid for our kids that the temperature of the water had NOTHING to do with this rule.
Our model had a pump and a ladder, but the sides were held up by water and you had to blow up the rim with a hand pump. So a pool, but not a pool, even though I bought the floating bleach tablet thingies.
I played chemist Every. Single. Day. And dumped hundreds of dollars of quality chemicals into the pool every morning and shocked the pool after every storm only to have algae and scum gunk. Never again…
But… the rule?
Get in and stay in.
Or if you get out, don’t get back in.
It was because of the dirt. The grass. The hundred other whatevers that jumped up from the yard and stuck to the bottoms of feet or lodged between wet little toes and drug into the pool. And hid under that blow-up rim and created more gunk and slime and algae, requiring more cleaning and skimming and vacuuming and, well, you get the picture.
In and out of the pool.
Same with writing projects, I’m finding.
The water’s fine when you’re all the way “in.” From the hold-the-breath contests to see what character A decides to do with that dilemma I just threw at him. Handstand contests between A and B side stories. A tad of Marco-Polo-ing (especially when I held my breath too long and forgot where I put a character—that’s always fun).
Like riding atop a magical unicorn floaty that bobs and sways with the water as the ideas pour out uninhibited and some magical being (likely not a muse, as muses are such fickle beasts) refills your Canada Dry Zero Sugar Ginger Ale that finally found its way out of the supply chain logjam and brings you strawberries and white Reese’s cups to keep your brain fed while you create…
It’s also fine when you’re all the way “out.” As in done. Completely. Dried off, manuscript sent off to the proofreader or the editor or on to a submission of some sort. Done. All your muscles relaxed and warm and washed in a calming peace. And if you close your eyes and concentrate, you still feel as if you’re floating on your unicorn…
But man, oh, man. Getting in and out? Over and over? Starting and stopping?
I explained to a friend that some of the stories I’ve written so far this year feel like they have square wheels and I’m pushing them uphill in mud. She replied at least I’m making interesting tracks in the mud.
She’s an optimist.
I think I’m just tracking mud…
And a hundred other whatevers that jumped up from the yard and stuck to the bottoms of my feet or lodged between my not-so-little toes and drug into the manuscript.
And then I have to play major chemist (aka editor) and dump and subtract and cut and skim gobs of content to rid it of those junky, scum-producing issues. Yuck, right?
A thousand interruptions of life and a brain that swears it has ADHD (but likely it’s Little Miss Muse or one of three felines causing a ruckus). A sinus infection that’s hitched a ride multiple times since the second week of January (playing its own game of in-and-out-of-the-nostrils, I suppose, dragging in more issues with each pass it takes at me). You name it. Events, illness, or generalized stress sending me searching for the ladder to get out of the pool before anything is done.
But today is Monday.
A new, fresh start to the week.
Another chance to pump fresh air into my unicorn floaty, refill my Little Miss Muse’s not-diet grape soda and bring HER her favorite purple bubble gum (because, let’s face it, we live in the real world and I’m here to serve HER) and get back in the pool.
Hopefully to stay in the water for more than a day…