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A Day in the Writing Life: Chapter 9 of EVERY NOTE PLAYED

From my writing journal….

Okay, clearly I need some time with no kids to bang out some chapters. 9am-noon isn’t enough right now. I’m still at the beginning of the book when there’s so much resistance, and I dick around for too long before starting. Man, I really don’t feel like writing today---wah, wah, wah. Too bad, Lisa. The only way to finish this book is to write it, one page at a time. You have to put in the time to get the words down. There is no other way.

Looking forward to connecting with Barbara Shapiro next week. I need a pep talk.

I know the next three chapters, which is amazing. I almost never see that far ahead this early in the story. It’s like having high beams on. So this should be easy—not sure what all the resistance and procrastination is about. Just get to it already.

You need to write a kickass, awesome, beautiful, important book. Don’t be afraid of this story. Tell the truth. Make the characters real and relatable and flawed and trying and wanting to heal and make things right but not knowing how to do it. They keep making the same mistakes (life is such a habit!) and holding back and holding in and holding on to pain and being right and refusing to take responsibility because it’s easier to blame, deflect, look away.

Okay, so chapter 9. How do I begin? Richard is in bed. He’s not tired, but what’s the point in getting up and starting the day before Bill gets here? He can’t do anything. He’s a tourist in his own home, a visitor in a museum where he’s allowed to look but not touch.

There are things he could buy, investments in this disease he could make to make his day easier, better, more independent. Suggestions from his OT—install a bidet, remote control shades, buttons for light switches he can step on with his foot. Richard never had any problems spending money when he was making it. He was often a big spender, extravagant, enjoyed living large and playing the part of a famous pianist. But he also knows how to be frugal. He grew up poor. His father worked in a granite quarry. They knew how to live with little and be content.

But he hasn’t purchased a bidet or the remote control shades or the special light buttons. This is his way of saying FUCK YOU to this disease. Maybe a splash of denial. If he gets the bidet, then he’s admitting he can no longer wipe his own ass. Why can’t he wipe his own ass? He has ALS. So in some weird, twisted neurological circuit in his brain, he reasons, “If I don’t have a bidet, then maybe I don’t have ALS.” Or at least his ALS is a little less severe than it might be if he had the bidet—and the feeding tube and the wheelchair and the BiPAP. All of these investments feel heavy, like he’s succumbing to ALS. Each one is an admission, a handshake, his signature on the dotted line of a contract agreeing to ALS.

He’s not doing it.

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