03 September 2009

Good Instincts

Thanks to all of you who responded on Tuesday. It was a great reminder to me that I'm not alone, that although writing can be such a solitary experience, we do not write in a vaccuum. And that there are others who understand exactly where we are!

When I left blog-land on Tuesday, I got to do something really fun. At least, for me it was fun. I got to detail my car. It was a marvelously gloomy day, cool, but not raining. It was perfect weather for such an event.

A year ago, I actually detailed cars for a living. I was home between trips and knew I wouldn't go out seriously again until after the new year, so I took a part time job detailing cars at a local dealership. My friends owned the business, knew I was a hard worker, and decided to give me a chance. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Not even I knew how much I would love detailing. There was something so calming about it, from the method of cleaning to the organization and pattern of how to do a vehicle well. I loved the limited customer interaction (although the salesmen were often jerks), and the challenge of having a project in front of me that needed to be completed in under an hour. I'm not a car person. If you ask me about my favorite car, I'll tell you that it's a blue one. But detailing fit me in a way that I never expected. And ironically, I was good at it. By the end, I'd begun to master windows, which are often the most difficult part. It was such a fulfilling feeling to love what I did and to actually be good at it. Granted, it left me little time to write, it killed my back, and my hands became so calloused that they resembled my dad's, but I didn't care. To this day, I call it the best paying job I ever had.

As some of you might have experienced for yourselves, the car industry has struggled a lot. By December, no one was looking at cars. No one could afford to buy any. The layoff wasn't a surprise. But I felt such grief, not over the loss of the paycheck, but because I loved what I did. Even though I knew it was only a temporary job, I wanted more time.

So, that's why the opportunity to detail my car, which I hadn't done in almost a year, was such fun for me. But when it was over, I noticed something: my calves were sore. My arms hurt. A year ago, I did up to six cars a day. It definitely hurt my body, and I had to work up to that amount. I needed the heating pad just about every night. But with more practice, I got faster at what I did. I got smarter at what I did as well. By the end, I'd only get really tired--and really sore--by my final car.

Even though it's been a year, my instincts are still there. Automatically, I detailed certain areas of my car in specific ways, without thinking about the training and the reasoning as to how. It was as if time hadn't passed at all.

It was worth every second of it. I absolutely loved it.

What a great reminder. Sometimes writing is more painful than fun. Sometimes it feels like work instead of play. Sometimes, because of life circumstances, it's been a while and we feel out of practice. But our instincts are still there. Our training--whether from practice or a degree--will kick in as it always has, no matter how rusty we might feel.

And most of all, we still love it.

With that in mind, I sat down at my computer. Gloomy days are most definitely my favorite writing days. I started researching, trying to think through the themes before me. Finally, I started to write. I stared at the screen and tried to put down the image in my mind. Sometime later, after agonizing through a paragraph or two, I only had a 100 words to show for it. Unfortunately, they weren't any good.

But that's okay. Because I love what I do. It was fun to brainstorm and research. And those words will get me closer to the ones that will work, to the scene that will spark everything.

I guess if you can call writing something you know stinks a "success" and "fun", it's a good day, huh? Ha!

We'll have a book feature tomorrow, so I'll see you then!


  1. This is so true! When it's hard, we still love it. That's why we do it.

  2. If we ever meet I'll pay you to detail my car! LOL

    You're so right. At least you sat down to right. It doesn't matter how many words, but just that you did it! :-)

  3. Can you come do my car?! :)

    I love the analogy. Car detailing and writing have a lot in common. Some days it's not fun. Some days it's hard work and a lot of practicing. Some days everything I write is crap and some days everything I write is... well still some crap, but some gold too!

    Great post :)

  4. Detailing cars? I NEVER would have guessed that of you! But when I stop and think about it, it does require and artistic mind! It's so fun to learn surprising things about blogging friends!

    And some days writing too is full of aches and pains as we labor to find the right words and phrases. But when we persevere through those hardships, we'll grow stronger writing muscles!

  5. How interesting! I'd have never pegged you for such a job, and that makes it even cooler. :)

    I agree with your thinking. We have to give ourselves a break and know that, even if each step of writing isn't quality, it's closer to what is... and we can't get there without doing something, anything.

  6. I like how you freely use the word crap. :D

    Also, I think it is when we stretch ourselves and try things we never thought we would, that we stumble upon some real gems. I think I might like catching lobsters? Maybe one day I'll try it.
    ~ Wendy

  7. Hey, friends! I'd love to detail your cars! I don't even care if that makes me seem weird. Especially if you have a vehicle close to the size of an escape, edge, or exterra. Those are the most fun (and the least stress on my back!)

    Ha! Wendy, thanks! After a good night's sleep, I modified my blog a little just in case anyone was offended. That's the worst thing I say--I don't curse--but I really don't want someone to think they'll never know what they read here. If anyone was offended or shocked, I'm truly sorry.

    Go for the lobsters! That sounds awesome! I always had this theory that manual labor was the best kind of job (because of the exercise/endorphins and the good sleep at night), so I was glad to try it out!

    Janna, so true! That's what I have to keep reminding myself--that nothing will get written if I don't at least sit down and go for it.

  8. I love when joy can be found in something simple and unexpected. Yeah, sometimes there can be pain in writing. Especially when you're on your sixth edit and things still aren't working. But it's all worth it, right?

  9. How true. When you find something to do that you truly love, even hard days can be good days. We still love what we do.

    I'd write for free, but I'm glad we don't have to.

  10. it's hard to find a good detailer! i'll know where to go from here on out. :)

    Where Romance Meets Therapy

  11. Great comparison! I know it's hard to feel the love some days. :)

  12. Oh my goodness! What a hard job! Want to come do mine? I barely wash it or vacuum it unless I am desperate and can't get the hubby to do it.
    You write excellent blog posts so forget those 100 words!

  13. I love reading new facts about my online friends. I never would have guessed you detailed cars.

    But yeah, I can see it. It takes a detailed person to get a car completely clean, and it takes a detailed person to do a good job writing.

  14. Regina, I would too. But hopefully we all get to start making money at it soon!

    Thanks, Terri!

    You're right, Heather! Both kinds of detailing are meticulous and require a lot of focus/concentration. Sometimes there are so many loose ends and little bits to deal with in manuscripts that I feel more like a mad scientist than someone with a plan. That's the fun part, eh? It's fun to see where the stories go!