One Word after Another

Lit by Christine Falcone, 04/20/07

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of staying focused is the image of a large truffle-colored draft horse I saw tethered to an open carriage in downtown Aspen, Colorado this past winter. His name was Maximus, a strong name for a horse of his proportion, and he was wearing blinders. How sad, I thought, to be a horse shackled in that way, unable to look at anything but the square of asphalt directly in front of your face.

But I don't know. Maybe blinders aren't such a bad thing. They'd keep me focused on the task at hand. Maybe I should consider donning a pair while I'm sitting at my little white writing desk in the corner of our living room. Perhaps they would help me to remember that I don't have to write the whole novel in one sitting. Maybe they'd help remind me about pacing myself, about being in the present moment, or the current sentence, as the case may be, instead of two chapters ahead.

I have been trying to keep this in mind lately with my writing. It is important to have a view of the Big Picture, for sure, but won't that kind of take care of itself if I stay focused on where I'm at now, if I give myself over to this paragraph, this sentence, this word instead of worrying from where or even if the rest will come?

It's kind of like climbing a pyramid or one of those ancient Mayan temples: you have to take one step up at a time; try to do too much and you lose your balance, your footing, maybe even tumble to your death. What a way to die, falling from a pyramid - those ancient predecessors to our modern-day skyscrapers. I'd rather live to see the view from the summit, that pinnacle of completion that is the natural result of doing my work by putting one word after another.

Christine Falcone channels all her energy into trying to stay focussed, whether it's on her newest writing project, finding an agent for her recently completed novel, This Is What I Know, or playing Candyland with her 4-year-old daughter. She lives in Novato, California, and is still considering the blinders idea.

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