Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sitting On The Fence

photo by Jeff Greenburg date unknown

This week my horoscope mentions

It's a ripe time to revise and rework your past, Pisces. I'll trust you to make the ultimate determination about how best to do that, but here are some possibilities. 1. Revisit a memory that has haunted you, and do a ritual that resolves it and brings you peace. 2. Return to the scene of an awkward anomaly that remains unsettled, and finally do a duty you neglected. 3. Make your way back to a dream you wandered away from prematurely, and either re-commit yourself to it, or put it to rest for good. 4. Dig up and contemplate a secret that has been festering, and come to a decision about what you can do to heal it.

I spent at least five figures in therapy so I’m not haunted by memories; I haven’t a clue what he means by an “awkward anomaly”; I don’t do secrets, so the only thing festering is what I’m giving TG for Christmas next year. By process of elimination, my job this summer is revisiting a dream and moving aside the fear of putting together a fiction written in no less than three notebooks and one dream journal over the last twenty plus years. I have wrapped months of energy around my fears.

The first and foremost fear is the whole thing sucks and I’m wasting my time with this old idea. Next out of the basket is I subject my closest friends with readings and they feel bad when they have to tell me it sucks. Years ago, I participated in a disasterous workshop with part of this piece. The writer guy--a real Bukowski type--hated it; thought it was a piece of crap; basically told me this would be on the list of things he is condemned to read in Hell. The criticism was particularly painful as he salivated over the other woman’s piece. She was one of those wispy women prone to wearing long flowing scarves and equally long flowing hair; her voice soft but emphatic when she read. Her piece was a story poem, a phantasmagorical fruit salad of magic realism meets surrealism meets Jane Austen. I thought it was a mess against my straight up piece of narrative. I think it was just a few months ago, I realized Bukowski workshopped with his dick. Perhaps he would have liked my story better if I had been more like Jori Graham‘s disciple: young, pretty and eager to get stoned with him. In hindsight I can’t believe I let this sorry old man wannabe Beat poet take away my pen and my notebook . Leave it to me to be silenced by an old and lecherous hippie.

Aside from this blog, emails, Facebook updates and random chat on Table Talk (link) I don’t write much. I can use the time sucks as excuses. I can use my kid as an excuse. I can use the house and the endless chores as an excuse. But I’m out of excuses. The only thing Beav needs me for is my driving, banking and cooking skills; the big house projects are done (!) and the nuts and bolts of house work takes maybe four hours a week.

My other excuses rest in the end product. This will all be a waste of time because print is dead and the only people being published are writers like Nora Roberts and that chick lit Shopping/dating/I’m a fabulous wreck of a Gen Y woman. This will be a waste of time because ultimately, it will suck and no one would read it anyhow. Ok, my family might read it and say: “Well at least you tried hard” or some such platitude which ultimately means: “don’t quit that day job cuz you need to eat!” Finally, why would anyone give a shit about this yarn I‘ve been spinning in my head. But my very favorite excuse: someone wrote a lovely book and used part of my title(link). The title I've imagined for twenty years. People will see my title just before her’s on the Amazon list and will think: “That woman copied Azar Nafisi’s lovely title!” (as if it’s already published, see excuse number one)

The fence was already getting uncomfortable before Rob told me the stars were aligned just right. Before the star’s blessing I had promised myself the next four months of habitual writing. Not daily, that’s a recipe for disaster. The only things I do consistently every day are brush my teeth and whine. Rather, I have set aside time three days a week to write in four hour blocks. If our patient census remains low like it did last year, I’m devoting my call days to writing. Writing what could be a doomed novel is more productive than sitting on my hands waiting to be called into the hospital. Hell, with all those notebooks to combine, I have enough material to edit this summer without generating any new ideas.

September I will evaluate if it’s time to put this dream on the shelf or proceed onward. Years ago, during my other lifetime, I read Canfield’s The Aladdin Factor and I learned an exquisitely simple formula: If I ask for something there is a 50/50 chance the answer will be yes. If I don‘t ask, the answer is always ‘no’.

It’s scary to ask for what you want. Much like standing en point atop a picket fence.

photo by David Street 1998

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