On Checking off Bucket List Items Without Accidentally Kicking Their Container

This is a third post which has the words Bucket List in its title.

I find it mildly amusing because I do not actually think about my bucket list as often as I probably should (evidently, it is a big deal for normal people, but I—honestly—am not even sure what is on mine).

The List

For the longest time, the first item on it was to sit with my laptop in the park across the street, next to Morris-Jumel Mansion, and write, while occasionally puffing a pipe.

Pathetic. I know.

And I agree wholeheartedly—it definitely is rather ridiculous. But this is what would first come to mind anytime I was to start thinking about it. This weekend I finally managed to accomplish the aforementioned deed, so it is now successfully checked-off—with the regretful exception of the pipe, due to a strict non-smoking policy in that park.

One down.

The next item would be equally pathetic—to go to the Renaissance Faire and watch the jousting tournament. Or whatever. Perhaps, dressed as a samurai—I have the necessary clothes, including obi, gi, and hakama (no armor though, samurai on a budget, so to say). Significant stress on perhaps.

The third one—I do not know why I suddenly feel so inspired today, look at me go—would be to pilot an airplane. A small one, maybe even one with an open cockpit. This one was, actually, on my list for quite a while, for years, way before I had cancer. I do not know why I totally forgot about it, but since I did, it’s probably an indication that I do not actually want it. Besides, it might take more time that I am willing to spend on finding a place where they teach you how to do it, then go to the lessons (pay for them, too), and so on.

For me, the bucket list now works in a completely reversed order. If I suddenly acquire an object, the primary purpose of which is to make me feel real good (like a state-of-the-art MacBook Pro—which is, actually, an awesome machine, arrived just in time to replace our dying iMac—a sword, the chef’s knife pictured above which I got for my birthday—I honestly never knew I wanted it, but now I have no doubts that I did, duh, the thing is hand-made and wickedly sharp, what’s not to want?), it automatically becomes an item on my bucket list, already checked as complete. The same principle works for pretty much anything, and it does work quite well. For instance, sail on an actual sailboat—with sails, that is, without an internal combustion engine or another modern method of propulsion (this item is scheduled to be checked-off during the first week of October, the two excursions are already booked and will take place during our upcoming cruise—which is welcome to the list as well—to New England and Canada aboard Norwegian Gem). Along with it goes the immediately emerged (thanks to my wife) sub-item: spend most of the time on the suite’s balcony writing (while puffing a pipe, naturally). Can’t wait.

Looks like my bucket list has developed a way to successfully manage itself (which is quite convenient for me, being all but the laziest person I have had the displeasure to know for far too long).

The strange thing is that somehow I never thought of finishing the book as a bucket list item. They are supposed to be silly, or fun, or, maybe, inspirational, perhaps a tribute of sorts, like to see the motherland for the last time (hell, no!), put flowers on the grave of someone important to me (thankfully, I have no one who has progressed to that stage), overcome my fear of spiders and prove it by eating one alive, or something of the kind.

The book is an entirely different thing. My characters are just as real to me as the people from this world. They say and do things I never expected them to say and do—no surprise there, they are real people—which complicates writing tremendously, but they are fun to hang out with while trying to make them advance their story (so far they refuse even to admit that they are in a story, and only I know how it ends).

Which brings me to the next topic.

Right. Of course. The book.

Another scene grew disturbingly long and had to be cut into two. I have used this trick before, and it’s worth considering even for the revision pass. The downside of it (and a substantial downside indeed) is that now the structure of the manuscript, which established itself almost by itself over the years of being written, now requires another scene from another POV, inserted in between the two halves. I did break that principle twice in the earlier part of the narrative, and it’s bothering me still (later, damn it, later! First revision!). Now I have to write another scene—this is how the book is composed—just for this purpose.

Or not. We will see during that long awaited first revision.


Also published on Medium.

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