I am a wonderful person, but even I have flaws. I would go so far as to call myself flawed. One of my main flaws is that I cannot deal with changed plans. I don’t like things that don’t follow my original plan, and I don’t always know how to fit things in or change them around. This is also one of my flaws as a writer.
This week, I was ready and raring to write a bunch of cool funky blog posts about ALL THE THEATRE. I was going to go see a play at some point. I was going to write a bunch of emails to people I had been meaning to contact. I had a list. And then I got sick. As I laid in bed with a 99.5º fever, surrounded by empty 1.75 L orange juice bottles and used tissues, watching my 25th episode of Gilmore Girls in a row (I wish I were exaggerating even a little bit), I started to get mad at myself for not writing all the blog posts about all the theatre and sending emails and whatever else was on that damn list.
When I write and I can’t move forward I have a trick I use. I learned this from a teacher I had in college: write your plot out as though it’s a children’s book. The thing about children’s books is that they’re written for children. Children are known to ask infinite(ly annoying) questions if things don’t make sense to them. So children’s books usually make a lot of sense. They’re very simple and straightforward. Now, not all plot is meant to be linear and flow logically from one thing to another – I love a good avant garde theatre piece as much as the next gal – but if you’re going for a linear plot structure, this trick really helps you find all the tangled bits of your story and smooth them out.
Today, my first day up and at ’em since I got sick on Sunday night, I decided to turn my own life into a children’s story. Once I did, I was able to be less mad at myself. It’s hard to write all the blog posts about all the theatre when you’re floating in and out of fever dreams that all seem to involve Lorelai Gilmore and you can barely sit up for five minutes. We all need to step back from our stories, simplify, and be a little kinder to ourselves. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that no amount of planning can truly prevent anyone from getting sick during cold and flu season. Plays will still be playing in a week. Emails can be sent over the weekend. Blog posts can be written after fevers break.
And then we can start our lists over.