I posted this as a reply yesterday, but I wanted a new post. Sorry for the redundancy.
I just finished chapter XLI of Moby Dick., pg 156 in my copy. As I’ve written before, I’ve had this book since 1971 or72 and have tried to read it 4 or 5 times, never getting past pg 125 or so. This chapter is titled “Moby Dick” and it could as well be called “Ahab” as it outlines some of Ahab’s madness and obsession. It was exquisite. Beautiful writing that evokes what for me, felt like a theorem of the futility of existence. Melville’s words, (Ishmael’s narration) explained the eternal burn within Ahab, the hatred that was in “the race since Adam” (I paraphrase) but gave me the sense of how utterly helpless we may be against time.
I had a thought that I should actually never finish the book, but keep reading it on and on, over and over for as long as my eyesight works. Though I am excited to break through my previous barrier, I had a certain sense of doom, of the finite-ness of life, that will be clear and present as I delve deeper into the book. It saddens me, in a sense, and points to the ultimate termination we face. Perhaps if I never finish the book I can forestall, at least, the feeling. Happy Memorial Day — kind of contradictory, I suppose.
Out of all of my writer friends, I consider myself one of the laziest. So, this week, when I spent $150 dollars to get my 10 year old, hoopty, computer out of computer nirvana and back to the land of the living, I was shocked to find a treasure trove of writing.
Now, nothing is longer than a few pages of wild notes, but looking through them reminded me of a time when i wasn’t preoccupied with a fear of writing. I was excited to try something new. It’s like the time I tried to learn how to do a backflip at 17. The gymnastics teacher at my high school refused to teach me. He said you have to start when you’re fearless. He never taught anyone older than 13 or so how to do one. Well, i tried to do it anyway and ended up breaking my foot because i pulled out of my tuck too early. I was scared.
Writing can be like that. It’s easy to write when you know nothing, when you are fearless. It’s harder now. For me at least. And i’m not really lazier than my writer friends, but I am more scared. They have learned to keep their knees pressed to their chests all the way through the tuck. I’m still breaking my own feet.
However, and back to the point of all of this. There once was a time when I was fearless. I had forgotten that. So, I have a writing goal for the next week. Write a first draft, as reckless and messy and sloppy as necessary of a short story. And to do it fearlessly.
I’m working on a chapter of my book and some travel-related pitches. Deadline for both projects is Monday. Also working on some photography for my class – which is fulfilling in a very different way than writing. What are you all up to? Sound off writers!
Tuesday this week was a blur. I was head down at my journal from 7 am until 2 pm writing the last forty hand written pages of the third draft of the meta-meta novel I’m had underway for a little over a year, and I discovered in the deep cave of my mind I found some completely unexpected aspects of the protagonist’s character that surprised me, and gave me a mental flashlight to wander out of the darkness and into daylight, which happened when I lifted my head from the desk mid afternoon. I was pleased I had no idea how I would solve the problem of finding an emotional heart inside the plot driven ending, but I think I did. Then I went to the gym to release the throbbing purging that was my brain afterwards, and prepared for my reading of “Falling Girl,” my short story, at the Bulgarian Consultant on 62 street where I was paired with Ivan Dimitrov, another fellow from my residency at the Sozopol Fiction Writers workshop in 2010.
And speaking of writer resolutions, here’s a link to the Restless Legs reading I told you about: http://www.facebook.com/events/133581423437254/.
Monday, April 11, Lolita Bar on the LES, 7 p.m.
Thanks to Amy KW for recommended a weekly check-in for what we plan to do writing-wise this week. My head hatches a long list of things to do: check out another chapter of the Burroway book, read this week’s New Yorker story, read a few writing blogs, add to my vocabulary list, submit work, continue work on the novel, revise an existing short story and think up a new one. When I rock the babe early in the morning, I get dizzy thinking about all I’m going to accomplish that day and then, then he dozes off and that looks pretty good to me so I close the blinds and join him. I lose two hours, but gain in terms of outlook — sleep deprivation brings all the negative Nancys on my block to play in my head.
Realistically this week I will begin to read Moby Dick, revise this past week’s story and add 10 pages to the novel. That, to me, would be a good week of writing.
Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Ted talk about creativity. She has an interesting take on the idea of creativity, but the one notion that sticks with me is the “idea” that enters your realm and you’re either open and ready to write it or it moves on to another writer who is ready at that moment. I get these story storms at 5 a.m., the little one rouses, I go to shush him and head back to my pillow and the furniture of a story begins to rearrange itself. Then I drift off, half way, like on an airplane. The sleep from 5 to 7 a.m. is fitful, so wouldn’t it be better if I just reached over, grabbed my pen and jotted a few notes about the story storm? To catch the story by the tail and pull it back to me. Maybe I’ll give this a whirl, too.
During our meeting on Sunday night we mentioned
Annoying WordPress things: why does WP remove/change the headline every time I edit this post? Why has it inserted a blue background color behind each paragraph?
Been missing my writing peeps (though we all have good reasons for our mini-hiatus – domestic and overseas travel, babies, holiday festivities…) But I wanted to post a little something because I’ve done something that I haven’t done in a very long time – submitted work.
I’ve also taken the novel wannabe that I’ve been working on for so long in a new direction. I’m feeling better about it.
I’m not much of a resolution-maker (I tend to break them, then beat myself up till Dec. 31 about it). But I did buy a brand-new notebook, which always makes me feel good, and I started making mini-goals for the week. This week’s goals had to do with submitting two stories, finishing a novel that I’ve been reading slowly (Paul Auster’s Sunset Park), and writing five pages by hand. I submitted both stories, am close to the end of the Auster, and have almost met my writing goals. I’m not thinking of these as resolutions, just teeny-tiny little goals to be met. Hopefully the cumulative momentum will snowball into something that I can say in retrospect was some sort of resolution that I actually kept.
What have you all been working on over the holidays?