Thursday, November 19, 2015

Just something to read

I have surpassed the 25k mark for my novel. I have never written this much in my life. I'm so chuffed at the word count that I'm not even especially concerned with the fact that I am going to have to basically rewrite the whole first draft! Well not rewrite it but....there is a lot of editing that will need to be done. Still, I see the ending in my head so clearly and I've never seen that before. Plus, I am making myself laugh, cry and develop back problems in the process. It is all about the process anyway, right?

At work today I helped an elderly Haitian man who is a regular at this library. He's a retired academic and speaks about five languages, all heavily French accented and he is the sweetest man ever. Today after I looked up a bunch of Umberto Eco titles for him (normally I just answer questions about why the scanner doesn't read the library card number) he handed me an envelope and said "This is a gift for you, my friend. Just something to read." I was surprised but I always welcome gifts involving reading so I thanked him and he left.

My curiosity would not allow me to wait until closing time to look into the envelope and it turns out he had copied an article about the Citadelle La Ferrier, a former fortress, now "tourist attraction" in Haiti. The article was from the Journal of American Architects in 1928 and described the storied history of the Citadelle and was utterly fascinating. I'd say I could make it a destination to visit but honestly, am I going to be able to visit Haiti, ever? On his way out he told me to save my money so I could visit one day. Also, I'm a little bit in love with the Haitian professor, as I call him in my head. Then again, I fall a little bit in love with anyone who gives me things to read, watch, listen to and learn. I've decided I want to be the type of person, when I'm old and lonely, that gives people things to read. No one will read them, of course, but I'll do it anyway.

And now, just like Mary in Beford Falls, during her unfortunate, miserable, grey, depressed spell as a librarian without George Bailey's emo angst in her life, I have to close up the liiiiibrary!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Planetarium Pangs

My surroundings are relatively quiet, that level of quiet that I can manage. Total silence is totally unnerving to me. I have to have some beacon, however faint, that someone else exists somewhere. I wish I could devote the entire morning to writing but in about two hours, everyone is coming in here to take the world up a few decibels. My first instinct on entering work today to the news that nearly everyone was at a meeting and that I'd have most of the space to myself was not to run around in my underwear screaming (though I've had that inclination more than once since starting here) but rather to sit quietly at the computer and write. I think, just like a runny, smelly Roquefort, I've aged.

I've been writing my book and so far have been pretty consistent with my word counts. I'm at about 13,000 words so far and my novel is all over the freaking place but I'm getting the story down. It is way harder than writing has ever been for me. I would much rather work for several weeks on a poem, or a few hours on a blog post than try to take a big story and pare it down and transform all the pieces into a whole.

In that spirit, I need to take a trip to the planetarium soon. I find myself wanting to look up at the night sky and actually see something other than the glare of buildings. I like that you can walk in there and there's the universe, explained, whittled down and categorized, displayed in models and maps and illustrations. I also love that I am free to contemplate endless darkness and undying light for a few hours and then step outside and do something utterly mundane, like eat an apple. The universe is terrifying; the universe with a ceiling is slightly better. Don't get me wrong, I tend to get nihilistic after visits to the planetarium. Something about contemplating that timeline that is displayed in every single planetarium in the world that draws the scale of the known universe from the big bang to the puny amount of time that all of humanity has existed demands that one lie down for a spell. Still, it does a mind some good to tap into the void every once in awhile.

So who's meeting me there?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Just F*cking Write.

The methods by which I procrastinate and find distraction truly astonish me. If I had my druthers (or if I could finally figure out exactly what druthers ARE) I would be able to remove this sense of urgency I have to do, make, show, absorb and go, go, go. A life without urgency...I have absolutely no idea what that would be like. I firmly believe that in those moments when I'm not doing anything in particular, my brain has decided to shift into self preservation mode. Because if I'm not distracting myself with diversions carnal and spiritual (but mostly carnal), I'm thinking about doing it or planning what my next one will be. This is really just no way to live, despite the fact that most people live this way.

 Right now I'm faced with one hour to further along my book, something I began last week and made significant progress on. And instead of doing that, I've been distracting myself with utter nonsense. This is likely because I know precisely how I want my story to begin and end. The plot is complete. It is the unfurling of that plot, the placement of my anecdotal storytelling into some coherent format that would make someone other than me and like three other people read it and enjoy it. It is extremely difficult for me to turn off my internal editor and just do what I'm bidden to do: just fucking write. Just. Fucking. Write.

I sincerely need someone in this room with me to tell me to stop doing anything but write. Stop shopping online, stop fantasizing about that cute guy, stop investigating random factoids like Buster Keaton's filmography (for like, 30 minutes), stop making lists of adult education courses I'm definitely going to take this winter, just stop. Just fucking write.

And I just don't think this blog entry counts. Or does it? I heard if you spend a lot of time writing about the inability to write, a tree falls in a forest and someone hears it. Or an angel gets his wings. Or the call is coming from inside the house. Or something I don't know. I just know that one particular thing doesn't happen: your novel doesn't get written.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Run from Rabbit

Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1)Rabbit, Run by John Updike
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first foray into anything Updike and I've got to say, while I truly appreciate his way with prose ( a lot of the passages in here border on poetry, usually when describing something as seemingly mundane as a trip to the corner store), I actively hated the main character, Harry Angstrom by the end of this book. He reminded me very much of someone I know and maybe the whole abandoning your family because you're all jacked up about the meaningless of your small town drudgery doesn't really gel well with my personal sensibility (the abandonment part, not the drudgery...THAT I get) but I kind of wanted to take old Rabbit by the lapels and shake him.

I just don't know if I can continue on with the sequels of this. I'd rather watch Mad Men for this kind of energy.

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