Recalibrate Your Instrument
I remember being in college and trying to print out my large photographs on the wide body printer in the upstairs computer lab. Those were frustrating days. You see, when it comes to printing photos out- large photos for the purpose of an art show- you want to make sure that the colors you see on screen are the colors that appear in the actual print. There are ways to ensure this like assigning the file a color profile such as CMYK or RGB. However, if the printer is not calibrated to the computer, you can assign color profiles till the cows come home and you’ll still be dissatisfied with the results.
Invariably, when I went to print my work, the printer had undergone so much use from so many different students- and, if were honest, some of that use bordered on abuse- that it was out of calibration. The only thing to do is re-calibrate the printer to the computer being used. There are machines that do this, which takes some of the headache away, but it’s still a headache.
Why am I tell you about this, you might be asking. Well, dear readers, I’m telling you about this because it leads into what I wish to talk about with you today. Recalibration.
Sometimes we all need to take a moment and recalibrate. You could call it re-focusing. You could call it re-aligning or centering yourself. There are multiple synonyms you can use, but they all lead to the same conclusion: RESET.
I really like the term recalibration here. You see, to calibrate something refers to determining the correct value on a set of instruments so that its readings are absolute rather than relative. When it comes to printing something out, this means that the red you see on screen is the same red you will see when you print: it’s the absolute red, not a similarly hued red in the same tonal family. It’s the red you want. Absolutely.
We each are instruments. Our body is a very precise instrument. There are sciences completely devoted to understanding the right intakes of macro and micro nutrients to make sure our instruments function at optimum. There are certain exercises that should be done to ensure optimal performance from our instrument. In fact, these exercises are so precise per person that there is a whole field of fitness devoted to this: personal training.
Point being, if we want our equipment to work optimally, we need to recalibrate every so often. This sort of system reset not only works in conjunction with our body as an instrument. It also works on our mind as an instrument, too.
Resets. Recalibrations. System reboots. PMs, to use a technical acronym. These are ways that instruments tell us they need to be cared for or repaired. Our persons (mind, body, and spirit) are the same as any other machine, only more so, and yet, so often we neglect these necessary steps.
I’ve been thinking about this on and off for the last couple of days. You see, here at the Ritznore home, we encountered something very interesting. Two weeks ago, we had new picture windows put in. However, when the installers tore out the old windows, they discovered wood rot and several other compromises in the structure of our home. Thankfully my husband had just arrived home for twelve days. Between his structural smarts and both our intrepidity, we were able to rebuild the portions that needed rebuilding. However, this was not an easy fix. It took nearly the whole time he was home to achieve it. In fact, there is still some work that needs to be done, but I can do it on my own. We got done all that needed his know-how to get done before he shipped out last Monday.
Where does recalibration come in? Well, to say this schedule upheaval was unexpected would be putting it mildly. Thankfully, I was able to cram in a few minutes here and there to get my blog posts done. But, where the bulk of my writing was concerned, it was put firmly on the back burner. Working long hours hoisting timbers and cutting siding and painting and caulking and all the other manual labor meant that by the time I sat down in the evening for dinner, it was a short respite before bed.
So, now that the mad dash is done (for the most part), I’m recalibrating my writing instrument. I have a schedule plotted in my mind. I know what I am going to get done. I simply need to get back in the writing zone I was in before I got interrupted.
You see, if an instrument needs to be recalibrated, it means that somewhere along the way the instrument in question deviated from the correct position; therefore, it is not operating at its absolute capacity. Where my writing is concerned- particularly as it’s the fourth draft- I want my writing instrument working at absolute capacity.
So, I’m getting my ducks in a row. You know about getting your ducks in a row, right? The image is one which, if you’ve ventured into the country at any time in the spring you might see: a mother duck leading her offspring from nest to water, waddling in a straight row, one after the other. It’s the safest, most efficient way in which to garner success in her endeavor. And generations upon generations of ducklings have learned to swim following this same pattern.
To have one’s ducks in a row is to organize oneself fully in the matter which she is undertaking. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m re-reading over all the notes I’ve taken. I’m re-reading everything I’ve written thus far in Draft 4. I’m even re-reading through the section in Draft 3 that I’m going to be re-working so that I have everything fresh in my mind. This pre-write recalibration will ensure that all the values have been determined and my instrument can begin working at full capacity. And, since you all know how much I love Formula One, you’ll quickly deduce that when it comes to working, I want my instrument to be full throttle, balls to the wall.
But- and this is really important- if I want to prepare for my writing game, then I need to set the time aside to focus on the re-reading I need to do. I need to focus on the steps necessary to get my instrument in working order. As a writer, that focus requires time and quiet.
I’ll tell you this much, where in the past I’ve grappled with fear at attacking the next draft, this time, I’m really over it. So over it! In the re-writing I’ve already done, I’ve killed darlings I never thought I’d be able to let go of, and, in doing so, I see with stark clarity that my novel is shaping up beautifully. The weight this book needed to lose is coming off and what’s left is svelte and lithe. I’m liking what I’m seeing. So, thankfully, part of recalibration does not require continual pep talks of how I can do it or how I was born for this. I’ve embraced that part. Now, I just need to get my head back in the game.
So, I’m hanging up my Johnny square. I’ve packed away my jig saw and my circular saw. I’ve folded up the ladders and capped my caulking gun. And, I’ve laid out the tools of my trade. My pens are inked and ready to write. My notebooks sit on my night stand and various tabletops. My laptop is charged and ready to travel wherever I go ensuring that I write when and wherever I can. My playlists are standing by to accompany every writing mood I can think of. I’m well stocked with tea and coffee and avocados. (Random, I know, but if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that a new favorite of mine is avocado on gluten free toast sprinkled with Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning.) AND my reading place- my little leather loveseat tucked in the corner facing a magnificent view out my newly installed picture windows- is ready for me. As are the various reading materials.
Recalibration is set to begin.
I hope this encourages you if you feel like you’ve gone off track and missed your mark. We’ve all been there, I assure you. That’s what recalibration is for. It needs to be done from time to time. And, depending on how precise the instrument is, sometimes it needs to be done daily. So, if you’re a perfectionist, allow yourself the luxury of recalibrating when you need to. Give yourself grace. And, as Julia Child says, Never apologize.