Marcel dit qu’il valait mieux:
“On n’aime que ce qu’on ne possède pas tout entier.”
Marcel dit qu’il valait mieux:
“On n’aime que ce qu’on ne possède pas tout entier.”
When you realize that someone doesn’t love you, your first reaction should not be anger, although it often is. It’s an understandable and expected response. You’re suffering a loss that you never really gained—the absence of whispers, defining moments, and lifelines that could have been.
Recently, I’ve learned to buckle down what I refer to as The Upset; I strap it down until I’ve figured out its new shape and how heavy it might be during this go around. I envision The Upset as a sulky disheveled monster, born and amassed from the salt and iron in my veins. The Upset is the part of me that I can’t predict and frankly, shouldn’t have to. It is as exhausting as it is transformative. It is all encompassing. And I strap that unruly bitch down because I don’t want it tethered to any part of me. I don’t want hulking rocks in my shoes to make each step away from you harder than it should. And in spite of my resolve, the quickness in my stride, it’s still a struggle.
Lately, I’ve embraced the influx. Admired the frequency of short bursts. I’m conducting this symphony and we’re barreling towards crescendo. Yes. This is what we’ve been waiting for.
I say, don’t shy away from it. Too often we encumber ourselves with mental blocks and edits and excuses. Even if the writing becomes too loud and messy for us to bear:
Press on when the music swells.
Another post! It’s like I’m pouring a little out for my homies every day.
I’ve reached an impasse in my writing out of sheer disgust of the material that’s been coming out for Nanowrimo. (Watch live as I crash and burn here!) I know, I know, the point of pumping out a novel in a month is to get workable material and not necessarily Starry Night in a hat box and you have to give it time and bah bah bah blacksheep. Although I’m giving myself a plethora of ass-in-writing-chair moments, I can’t seem to make my brain function in that direction. (I blame you, television/alcohol/substances/myself.) I just don’t see the point of having several pages of worthless shit. (My thesis advisor would tell me that no work is worthless and that you’ll eventually find some use for some, if not all of the material. But pfft, what does she know?*)
These days, instead of building my word count, I find myself re-reading the beginning of the novel. My advisor has been telling from jump that these are my best pages. Not that the others should be burned in the ninth circle of hell, but some of them are just not there yet, you know? But how exactly does one go about capturing the essence of that material on the rest of the boatful of shenanigans?
Research shows (by the way, I made this shit up) that the first three chapters of any novel are the most solid. These are your babies. You’ve watered and fed them with the most amount of time and fanciful edits, as you should. They’re the lifeblood of the rest of your work. Here, the characters must be clearly defined, the dialogue sharp, and the wit a-poppin’. If those pages don’t make sense, then the rest of the novel is bound to fall apart somewhere.
And in terms of spreading the wealth, you also want a way of maintaining that level of momentum until the very end. Some of the very best writers can’t do this. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been annoyed by a great novel that ends up sucking in the last 40 pages. (I’m looking at you, Lev Grossman re: no one gives a shit about Fillory *cough* Narnia.)
So, what up peanut gallery? Any thoughts?
*ALL THE THINGS
Whoa! Two back to back posts. Only two more until I abandon this again for three months.
It’s an odd set to listen to as background noise, but I find myself lured in by the romance. The idea of listening to a work in progress, reveling in the amount of piecemeal and perfection, tedious take after take. Making this album, striving for art, drove Brian Wilson cray cray. Or maybe it was the LSD. Or the undiagnosed schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Whatever. Even though it’s taken over forty years for the final product to see the light of day, that’s got to speak to idea of real dedication and perseverance, amirite?
Nanowrimo sentence of the day: “A month later it would only be the two of us, with our arms outstretched for something out of reach.”
Oh hai! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I think we still know each other like lovers do.
Thanks to some purposeful wheedling, I joined the Nanowrimo bandwagon. I’m not sure what will come of this, especially since I’ve played skeptic to the idea of pumping out a novel in a month since the idea was introduced. I know it can be done, but should it be done by me? (Can it?) I’ve always admired people who crank out pages like their lives depend on voiding blank space. Me, I revel in digressions. I enjoy doing “research” on Wikipedia and Netflix. Distractions are a part of progress, I think. I remember reading Stephen King’s On Writing back when I was MFA n00b, the only book on craft I read during my time there that didn’t sound pretentious and mean. (I’m looking at you, NG.) He mentioned something to the effect of writing with the door open. The idea of tethering yourself to the page with a little leeway. I like it.
The trick, I suppose, is to not let that leeway turn into procrastination. If I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit that I’m already there. Procrastination and I dance daily and we dance hard. The words are moving slow, if at all. I’ve spent a lot of time “editing”. I’ve allowed myself to be ruled by setbacks, and graduations, and unemployment, and thesis advisors. But I don’t like how the wine tastes bitter at the bottom. I’m better than this.
I’m hoping that Nanowrimo will force my hand. Bold moves or bust. A summer ago, I wrote that first chapter. Under a clear night, with my cinderblock walls for company, 15 pages appeared from the fire. I promptly left it alone for the four months that followed it, but that’s semantics.
Today, I need 701 words. Be not afraid of flame.
I have a writing blog!
So yeah… I’ve been writing stuff. And it’s more or less been okay.
Now if only I could just finish something…
In response to Billy Collins’s Love:
The boy at the far end of the train car
kept looking behind him
The girl with her large black case
in the unmistakable shape of a cello
watches the boy at the far end of the train
though she pretended not to.
She ignored him in that peculiar way,
eyes averted and feet planted due north,
though the tone in the air had shifted
and she felt his electric wave beneath her skin:
like when a hand holds another for the first time
and knows that it has just done something wonderful.
Full disclosure: I don’t do well with drama.
I once had a boy (space) friend say that he couldn’t date me anymore because he could never gauge what I was thinking or feeling. “It unnerves me,” he said. “I can’t climb over your wall.” That’s well and good, sir, but I’ve never been one to keep hearts on the sleeves of my cardigans. Black polka dots, maybe. If the moon is full.
My protagonist, given that she began as a younger twisty extension of myself, feels the same way. These days, she’s morphed into her own lady, which was my intention, but the threads are still there, the quarter notes. Our manifesto? There’s too much shit going on for us to pause, reflect, and carry around buckets for our crocodile tears. Sullen looks are beneath us. When we brood, we do so in secret.
Thus comes the dilemma – getting the shape of the fight “the DRAMAZ” on the page. There’s a physicality to crafting emotions. Is this too much? Would she really say that? Don’t lose sight of who she is in this moment. Sometimes there’s weight in her silence. She says a lot in her movements. The way her brow furrows. The cross of her arms. Shifting from one side to the other. And if you look at her long enough, if she’ll allow you to, you might catch that moment.
A heart in a fist that quivers.
I really do. They lurk beneath the surface, teeming, turning. Sometimes they marinate. But I have them. However, I’ve just spent weeks with very little of them arriving to paper or the blank page. They still try to float down, but they always get lost somewhere in the ether. I can blame the back pain and the muscle relaxants. Illness can stifle a good creative flow. “Try not to sit up for a week,” the doctor says. My response? “Pardon me, but you do not know my life, sir.” There’s a cackling fellow MFA-er listening to this exchange in the waiting room. He has a pink eye. Conjunctivitis as karma.
These days, all days, there be deadlines afoot. Now is not the time for indecision or baby steps. The flame cannot sputter out. I’m waiting for things to start getting “real” but I suppose, I should be my own catalyst. My own wool and flint.
I have words.