Present Tense



It’s been quite a week around here.

Of course it all started innocent enough, but that’s how these kinds of weeks lull you into a false sense of security. After a rocking good New Year’s Day, we have flipped the switch and gone back to the meal plan that served us well for oh so many months. It’s one of exceedingly low sugar and carbs. It’s a diet we can both live with, and it’s one we’ve had a reasonable amount of success on. It means being smarter about what we ingest and when, not to mention how much. The purpose of course is clear, to lighten the load on our bodies, but also to feel better. It’s not about getting to a specific number for me, because numbers are relative.

The house decided it would manifest a problem with our upstairs shower this week, that problem is being dealt with, but ripping apart our shower was not something I wanted to have done. Yesterday I noticed the tires on my car looked bad, and after a quick check I felt the rough edge of steel belting. That’s that then, have to go. Not just two tires as I was expecting, no no, all four. It’s almost as if there is a snowball effect happening, a ramping up of the crap around me, or maybe it’s because lately I’ve become present tense.

Writing this new piece has sharpened my focus when it comes to the world around me, specifically the here and now. We, in the collective human sense, have the ability to solve scores of problems on the micro and macro scale should we choose to do so. The methods we choose to use differ from person to person, but that’s because we do not truly consider ourselves to be together. We separate by a long list of categories – race, country, economic, religious, skill, etc – and we do this because we love to put things in categories. It also stems from the internal belief that if something is someone else’s problem, provided it doesn’t hit too close to home for us, it’s not something we have to worry about. It keeps us safe inside our own minds. The piece takes place in a future where, even though the human race has gone through changes, they still struggle with the idea that when something affects one person, it doesn’t affect them all. Those thick blinders have a way of shielding them from worrying about anyone but themselves. It’s easier than putting on the super hero cape and that’s why humans still do it in the future.

For my own part, present tense means paying more attention to every day I have. Writers are said to have their heads in the clouds on a near constant basis, always dreaming up the next paragraph or line of dialogue. This is mostly true – although sometimes I’m thinking about how to approach pitching this book or the query writing process – either way we are classically distracted by things other than what goes on around us. When you spend so much time writing about the future you can lose sight of something as simple as tire tread depth. The here and now is just as important as what goes on tomorrow and next week, or even next month. Staying grounded with those analytical eyes isn’t a first or even second gear for me, but it’s a gear I have to find, or I’ll burn up the clutch and this car will be stranded.

To make up for this week’s assortment of left field situations, I can report that writing has gone exceptionally well. I made a serious amount of progress toward to the final climax, and even jotted down some notes on things that need to be fixed. Because no writer gets everything done exactly right the first time. It takes time to craft a novel, and that has never been more true for me when it comes to this piece. And while time is not the sole method of maturation, its power cannot be understated. For now I resolve to live in the present tense, aware and hopeful.