Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Step Into the Light



I have decided to see synchronicity in my writing. Because why not? It's kind of fun.

I wrote this thing the other day. Short story. Not very long. Maybe 6 or 7 pages. I wrote it quickly, let it dance its way out of me like a drunk, and then I e-mailed it, as raw and bloody as any piece of writing I've ever let another person see, to a select group of people.

I could say that I did not send it hoping for feedback and I said in the email accompanying the story just that, that I was not hoping for feedback, but I only wrote that because I'm a fucking liar.

However, as much as I crave feedback, the initial impetus to send it out was pure celebration. I had written something without planning it. Without thinking about it. Without being struck by the idea and then saying, "Okay, allow me to write this down somewhere when I have some free time. I do not have free time right now. I have nothing but free time, but I'm currently using that free time to cuddle with cats and watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. On Netflix. Again.

So I wanted to share that miracle, so tiny to the rest of the world, and like a exploding Sun in mine.

I wrote it. I do not have a title for it yet. I am thinking of it now as simply, "The Rift," but this may change. And I think it was pretty good. I think I will let it sit quiet and undisturbed for a month and then I will return to it, do some hacking and some changing and some morphing and maybe some adding (but dear God I hope not, that never ends soon), and then send it out to people and with polite notes that tell them to fucking give me money. Because I'm awesome.

It got me thinking of some other stories I've written, kind of in the same vein as "The Rift," that I began and stopped and never continued, because of laziness or worry or a because of an oppressive sense futility drifting down on me like a net.  I still have them. Still know their working titles. Still sense their potential. Still occasionally open the files, read them, almost feel like someone much more impressive than I wrote the page and a half I let fall out of me, and wonder why the holy fuck I didn't finish carving these diamonds out of the guts of the mountain. Sure, maybe no one will ever buy them, but so what? Like you spend your time so fruitfully now? Men and spend whole days in tunnels beneath the earth, dancing and playing music, getting nothing more than coins and stray paper thoughtlessly dropped in yawning guitar cases; men and women who know they will be an annoyance to so many, and just background noise to so many more, like the movie advertisements or the beggars. If they can do that you can finish a story or two, motherfucker.

But then at the same time I am writing this Fucking Novel. I call it that, you know. It has a real title, but I call it the Fucking Novel because I've been working on the Fucking Novel for almost a decade and a half and if something you work on for that long isn't going to curing a disease you should throw a "fucking" in there. It's just being honest.

Most of the work so far completed on the Fucking Novel was done last year.  Before then, it was a decade-and-a-half of stops and starts, of little pieces of chapters here and there, of chunks, of crumbs.  Over sixty Word files of them. There was some redundancy there, sure, but mostly they were all different. Different scenes or different chapters, told from different points of view, from first person, from third person, from first person but a different narrator, in a different tone, in a different order.

Finally, I completed the first draft. Completed it at the beginning of this year. Over six hundred pages. I am a little over 70 pages into the second draft. The second draft will be a very different animal than the first. It took writing the first, and writing it so very, very wrong to finally understand what I wanted. The second draft will be different. Probably much shorter. Written in the third person, mostly in the present tense. When writing fiction, I am generally most comfortable writing in the present tense; it comes from years of trying to be Donald Barthelme.

I love this novel. I have thought about it every day for a very long time. I also hate this novel and want it out, out, out. Every time I bring my car in to be worked on or just to get the oil changed, I wonder if the mechanics notice the sloppy words written in pen on the flap of driver side mirror.

"WRITE THE NOVEL, NO MATTER WHAT, WRITE THE NOVEL"

So, it is difficult for me to acknowledge the liberation and the genuine evolution that comes with writing "The Rift," and the way it makes me want to return to all those other old stories and write some new ones. There are two or three other stories I want to finish. And an essay about Logan. I want to try to sell everything. I want to try to sell everything because, professionally, this is the only fucking thing I ever want to do for the rest of my life. It is all I have ever wanted to do.

But the novel, right? Write the novel, get it done.  How can "The Rift" or an essay about Logan or anything else be anything but a distraction?

So today there is a blizzard, and it is big and every time I hear the projections the number gets bigger, like listening to to douchebag talk about his cock. Twenty four inches now, apparently. Governor Cuomo let all "non-essential" NYS workers (and this includes me) stay home. I had already announced my intention to stay home to my coworkers, but now I don't have to spend time for it. Shazam, motherfucker.

And I planned a time for writing.  I mean, why not, right?  I have done pretty well keeping to a 4 page minimum every day. Tuesday morning, which was yesterday morning, which was the morning before the blizzard, I had time to write a page and a half before work. So I e-mailed the Word file to my work e-mail address and finished the four pages (and then some) during lunch.

And I forgot to e-mail it back to my home e-mail. Which means I am home, with a free day, a day set aside for nothing but writing and refraining from dying in the snow, and the novel is at work, where I cannot get to it.

But "The Rift" is here. And all those other stories. And I can access my blogs to write comic book reviews.  And I can work on that Logan essay.

I am giving up nothing, but I am choosing to see synchronicity in my writing. So I am choosing to believe that I left my novel at work because I was supposed to leave my novel at work.

Also, my home office light switch is kind of fucked.

What I mean is it won't turn off. Well, it will, but you have to fuck with it. There's something going on inside the thing. I know nothing about electronics, but when you flip the switch down, it won't go straight down. It kind of goes to the side and then straightens out again, but when it gets to the bottom, the light won't shut off. It shuts off in the middle, but move it just a smidge above or a smidge below the happy spot.

And I am choosing to see synchronicity in this too. I am choosing to see synchronicity in this because to do otherwise would necessitate doing something to fix the goddamn thing.

My light switch, the light switch in my home office, the light switch in the home office where I write; it is refusing to go off.

I am choosing to believe that the light refuses to go off for a very specific reason.

-Michileen Martin



(I am including this because I stole its title, and because it's from the Archers of Loaf 1995 album Vee Vee, one of my favorite albums, and one of the few albums I can still listen to from start to finish without skipping or wanting to skip - and I am referring to skipping like skipping a song, not like skipping down the sidewalk, I always feel like doing that).