Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writing Better than Doing / Book Festival

Sometimes Writing is Better than Doing...

(and check out the SC Book Festival)

by T. Lynn Ocean

If you're a writer, you spend lots of time sitting on your butt. Your brain might be in overdrive and your alter ego might be swinging from a bedpost during a hot and steamy sex scene. But your body is dutifully positioned in front of the monitor, fingers making music on their familiar alphabetic keyboard.

Which is why it's so important to get active. Which is why, after opening a second written notice from the neighborhood appearance board about my newly installed fence—they wanted it to be white—I decided to get off my butt and paint the thing. The nice man at Lowes told me exactly which product to use and how much of it I needed. A friend let me borrow their electric sprayer. How hard could it be?

Well, lemmie tell you. Hard. Really hard. Imagine doing deep knee squats, then stretching your hands above your shoulders, for five hours straight, all the while holding a twenty-five pound weight with a trigger. Oh, yeah. A really LOUD twenty-five pound weight. After half an hour, my ears were ringing. I stopped to make a trip to the local drugstore for earplugs. Seeing me, the clerk did a double take and frowned as she took my money. Her reaction made sense when, back in my car, I caught a reflection of my face in the rearview. Both nostrils were coated with a fine white powder. I immediately headed back inside for a face mask, too.

Two hours later, grunting and sweat-soaked despite the chilly air, I met one of my neighbors for the first time. Apparently she'd walked over to investigate the noise. I suppose my latex gloves, earplugs, headband, and face mask made me look more like a crazed surgeon than a painter but I didn't much care. Whatever. My thigh muscles burned and my arms were rubber.

"No speak English," I said, figuring she wouldn't recognize me later anyway. No need to be sociable. I had a fence to paint. A six-foot high privacy fence that seemed to be growing taller and longer by the minute.

I kept the trigger engaged, the air powered sprayer doing its thing, and muttered something that may or may not have sounded like Spanish. Finally, she went away. It wasn't long before another neighbor ventured over and he didn't leave until I accidentally sprayed his shoes. My mood had soured. I wanted to go back to the charming Lowes paint man and tell him where he could put the five-gallon bucket of gloppy stain. I wanted to tell the homeowner's community appearance board where they could put their pissy-grams. But mostly, I wanted to finish what I'd come to do. Refill the tank. Move the tarps. Spray. Tell my complaining muscles that it was only a stupid fence and it wasn't going to kick my ass. Spray some more. Catch my breath. Refill the tank. Move the tarps… you get the idea.

I managed to finish the fence before dusk set in, and did a pretty darn good job of it. Since I had trouble walking for the next few days (seriously) it was a perfect time to plop my butt back in front of the computer screen. Bottom line? I'd much rather write about painting a freakin' fence than actually ever doing it again!

On a separate note, I'm thrilled to be attending the annual SC Book Festival in Columbia this weekend. For details, visit their website at If you're anywhere near Columbia, this is a must do. More than 80 authors, panels, seminars, and special events. If you go, look me up! I'll be the one who has a FAB French manicure. Well, actually it's the white stain beneath my nail tips that won't wash off… but hey. At least I got the stuff out of my nose.
P.S. I just found this old photo of my sisters and cousins. Can you guess which is me?
Cheers, T. Lynn


Jeannette St.G. said...

Yeah, squatting gives sore muscles - good though you could spray the paint on - quicker than painting it by hand! have a good book festival-cheers.

T. Lynn Ocean said...

Thanks, J!

Anonymous said...

see ya there.

Cathy Pickens said...

I never see the grown-up in the kid's face. Babies never look anything like their moms and dads, to me; they just look like babies. But in the photo, why do I think you are the little one in the front, the one with the attitude?

Susan Cushman said...

I don't know you, Lynn, but I think you're the second from the right (looking at the photo) on the back row. Looks like your smile. And I don't think you're old enough to be the little one on the front row, considering the period of the clothing on the photo. Just having fun guessing. And enjoyed the post. Susan in Memphis.