Monday, November 3, 2014

Paging Darwin ...

How the heck did it get to be November already? I mean, I see the leaves and my breath did the dragon thing first thing this morning when I went out to the car, but really? November? When did that happen?

Anyway, some of you may know that the N-month is the home of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when (insert Carl Sagan voice) billions and billions of writers and aspiring writers (okay, maybe not that many, but that's how it feels sometimes) register on the handy dandy (if sometimes snail-slow) website, challenging themselves to write 50,000 words during the course of the month.

Mind you, they don't have to be good words. They just have to be words. In fact, you're not supposed to look back and revise. At. All. You're just supposed to write forward and Get It Done.

I was messaging the other day with a writer-editor-book-reviewer (WEBR) friend who is also doing NaNo this year, and we got to talking about how the whole 'don't revise' thing can be a real challenge, especially for the sort of writer who wants to get stuff perfect before they move on. It went something like this (paraphrasing):

Me: I try to keep reminding myself that my first drafts all come out pretty much the same, quality-wise, whether I write them in three months or nine. I just gotta push through and remember that at this stage, it's all fixable.

WEBR: If you're just starting to figure that out, I'm screwed. 

Me: LOL. Or, more like it's one of those lessons I find myself needing to learn over and over and over again ...

Which got me thinking about those sorts of lessons. You know, the ones where you tell yourself "I'm totally going to remember this for the rest of my life" but then find yourself--days, months or years down the road--either forgetting and doing The Thing, then kicking yourself because you darn well know better ... or (and here's where I get caught) thinking to yourself "maybe it'll be different this time, seeing how I'm older/wiser/thinner/fatter/whatever."

For me, the list of Lessons That Somehow Don't Stick includes the following, in no particular order:

Don't try to make your first draft perfect. Just get it done and fix it later. (See above)

The spot where food touches a microwaveable plate gets flipping hot. 

I initially learned this lesson about an hour after my parents got their first microwave, which was approximately the size of a large dog crate and covered in vinyl made to look like fake wood paneling. Being the curious sort, I found myself thinking "I wonder what would happen to chewing gum in the microwave?" So I loaded a couple of sticks of Big Red on a plate, stuck them in the microwave, and pressed my nose to the glass, watching as the sticks wavered and melted, then started bubbling like something out of a pink-tinged swamp. Awesome! The next step, of course, was to pull out the plate and see if the gum still tasted the same ... except that in the process of removing said plate, I put several fingers squarely beneath the melted gum, resulting in much howling, tears, and second degree burns. And I never did get to eat the gum.

You'd think that would've learned me, right? Wrong. I can't tell you how many times I've burned myself by mistaking the boundary between sort-of safe, non-food zone and the feck-that's-hot food zone post-nuking. Just last week, in fact, with clam chowder ...

Paging Darwin.

**As a corollary (why do I always think there are more Rs than Ls in that word?) to the Microwave Lesson: Glass pans that have been baking in the oven are hot everywhere.

I have no clue why it has taken me more than one burn to figure out that I can't adjust the position of the brownies or lasagna, or take them out of the oven, with my bare hands or a single layer of kitchen towel for protection. 

Well, actually, I do have a clue, but it's kind of embarrassing (a word that I'm convinced should have fewer Rs in it). You see, it never happens when I'm baking with a metal pan ... 'cause, yanno, you don't put metal in the microwave. Glass, on the other hand, goes just fine in the microwave, and you can handle it by the parts that aren't touching the food. 

Why would my brain fail to trip the mental fuse that says "You just opened the oven, blondie, not the microwave, so NO TOUCHY!" you might ask. Beats me. Paging Darwin.

I'm pretty sure I had one more of these when I was thinking about this post last night in the shower (as you do) ... but darned if I can remember what it was (paging Darwin). So I'll throw it out there to you, my ReaderFriends ... What lessons have you have to re-learn over and over again? (Please, tell me I'm not the only one!)

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