Clearing the Cobwebs

When you have more than one computer, you run the chance of “losing” a file. Losing as in not remembering which computer you wrote it on. For me it was an 80,000-word-plus second draft of the 2012 NaNoWriMo rough draft. I was convinced it was on my laptop, and I even found a version of it, except I didn’t know it was a version. I thought it was the file I was looking for.

About four chapters of re-writing later, I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t put a finger on it, so I plodded on. The nagging sensation I didn’t have the right version kept kept up to the point where I put everything aside because I wasn’t happy with the result.

I recently picked up on the “grown-up” coloring book fad and bought a couple of books and seventy-two art pencils. Hey, I do nothing in a low-key way. One book is called Balance: Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders, Volume 1 by Angie Grace. It’s a book of mandalas, uncolored, so you can, well, color them. I didn’t have extreme stress, only the mild stress of a re-write not going the way I expected and the last-minute details of planning and putting on a one-day writers symposium. Okay, that had begun to border on extreme stress.

I’m not in the least artistic, as in painting and drawing. Writing is my art. I was a big fan of paint-by-number when I was a kid. One such “masterpiece” hung in my apartment until I bought a house and started collecting art from people who knew what they were doing. When I was a flight instructor and had to draw airplanes on a blackboard to illustrate a fine point of aviation, my students invariably laughed at my renditions. I was a Bob Ross drop-out; no happy little trees in my muddy paintings.

Grown-up coloring books aren’t paint by number because you have to choose the colors and where you’re going to use them, so I figured this was going to be a disaster, but I’d taken art in college (wherein the professor suggested that perhaps I should become an art historian rather than an artist), so I knew the color wheel and color families. And I had seventy-two art pencils to choose from.

I found when working on what I called “Mandala 1” I didn’t think about much of anything except, “Is this the right color to use next to this one?” But here’s the result:

Mandala 1

Not bad, eh? Actually, I think it’s a bit chaotic and probably should call it “Chaos.” I certainly don’t think it has the calming effect Ms. Grace anticipated in her book.

A mandala in Oriental art is “a schematized representation of the cosmos.” In Jungian philosophy, a mandala symbolizes trying to reunify the self.

I was trying to do the latter, to reunify the proper draft of a novel with my self so I get on with the needed re-write. Mandala 1 didn’t quite do it. So, there was Mandala 2:

Mandala 2

Ah, much better, and toward the end of this one, I thought, “Look for the draft on the other computer.” Lo and behold, there it was, the file I wanted to re-write from. Self reunited.

Of course, indulging my “artistic” wants takes time from my work, which is writing. However, Mandala 2 cleared a great many cobwebs away and helped me focus the re-write approach. Trust me, before that I was like a Roomba blundering into a piece of furniture and backing up, only to blunder into a different piece. Now, I can do the re-write justice.

I’m sure there’ll eventually be a need for Mandala 3.