I cheated in therapy the other day.
We were talking about my inner critics and she (we’ll call her Syrah, but not because she’s whiney) asked me to pick one that kept me from finishing things, especially my stories.
“Make him or her a character, a person, a monster, an anything, but we want to make it somewhat specific.”
So, with the hope that she’d never seen nor heard of [title of show] (and the odds are forever in my favor given that Syrah’s a Belgian mom in her 30s living in Sabadell), I said, “Oh I don’t know … a vampire?”
“Okay, and what is this vampire’s name?”
When in doubt, go with childish alliteration. Welcome to the universe, Count Crabby.
Thinking about him now, I see him more of as a creepy crustacean than the Sesame Street puppet my imagination had first envisioned, but I’ll put him on the back burner for a while. Mmm, maybe we’ll have crab legs for dinner.
Count Crabby has an issue with me being a cheater at things, of finding the easiest way to do them, or not doing them as well as they could be done. He also sets subjectively difficult-to-reach goalposts, and is quite adept at moving them on a whim. I wonder if Count Crabby is a Republican. Or an alcoholic stepparent.
In the past, I’ve struggled with this “cheating” concept in fiction writing workshops. For example ….
1. Write a true event from memory
2. Now change the place or the time of day or make the character 10 years younger /older
3. Now write the same scene from the POV of a character who is watching the whole thing.
Boom. You’ve got fiction.
Count Crabby: But do you? If you were REALLY creative you could just make something up and not base it on your own banal life.
And we go back and forth and I end up leaving it halfway done and move on to the next idea, not finishing anything.
Well done, CC — you won again.
He’s very smug, this vampire.
It’s not just in my writing. I went for a run today. I ran 5k, which is indeed very different than running “a 5k”. It was the second time I’d covered about that distance since I re-laced up the Sauconys about a month ago. At the end, my Garmin gave me a shout out. “You have a new record! A 43-minute 5k”.
While this is not a Personal Worst, it’s certainly not a Personal Best, and it’s about 18 minutes slower than I was 2 years ago, before the injuries started happening. It’s been a little start and a lotta stop since then (pulled this, torn that, a hernia operation, a badly sprained ankle, a few months of “you can’t leave your apartment” Barcelona quarantine — “nobody expects the Spanish Isolation”— and then a few weeks of “fuck it I can’t do anything more until the new Lexapro Rx fully kicks in, a thrown-out back, etc.).
Count Crabby: That’s cheating.
Lord Lexapro: Oh sweetie, just fuck right off, he’s out there trying to get his mo-jog back and he ran longer intervals today than he’s done since he’s been back. That’s a win and you can just go to the back of the bus and find something else to critique on another day. Sit your 10-legged, pointy-tooth, pale-faced ass down.
During the end of the run, Andy said to me (and me alone), “there may have been room for improvement, but you did the best you could today.”
I wanted to debate that a little … maybe I could have jogged one of those walk breaks. Maybe I could have pushed a little harder in those last 1-minute intervals. But then I saw CC snapping two of his claws together in a downwards Z shape humming “I told you so” and I thought …
No. I did what I set out to do (finish a slow 3.1 miles, and I did 3.2, so neener neener neener, CC) and now I have a benchmark when I go out on this run with Andy again in a couple weeks.
So here I am. I’ve run and I’ve written.
I’ve committed to starting and finishing something every day for the month of October. We’re bringing back Bobcelona. Yes, I’m cheating on the idea, but 20 minutes of a free write is what it is. And I’m cheating by composing on the keyboard instead of writing and then re-typing. And I’m pushing aside my nobody-needs-to see-a-first-draft demons because Austin Kleon says “show your work”.