Monday, January 16, 2012
i've had an affair on you
i read an interesting book that a good friend lent me. the book was by ann lamot, and a bit different from her usual fare. it was a collection of instructional essays (called Bird by Bird), pulled from her lessons as creative writing teacher. i was very shocked by it and found it wildly helpful to know that published authors don't sit down with a proper idea and completed framework in mind and bang out these lyrical, interesting tales on the first go through, with only minor grammatical editing at the end. which, of course, is what i had imagined. i have always admired good writing, and thought of it as a gift. but come to find out, while there may be some giftedness - there is also a hell of a lot of work involved.
lamot went to great lengths to talk about how she and her writer friends procrastinate, stare frustratingly out the window or at the blinking cursor, despondent and directionless feeling like a dry turd stuck to the sidewalk, fretting that the jig is up and they are going to be revealed as the vastly untalented hacks that they are. thinking that they may as well give up and resign themselves to a life of answering phones or driving a cab, just like everyone else. i don't know about you, but i find it immensly helpful to think about margaret atwood sitting in front of her PC, biting her nails, thinking of errands she has to run or phone calls that need returning because she is out of ideas about what happens when they arrive at the power plant, or how Bill should repsond to Maeve's outburst.
all i ever wanted was to write. when i discovered the novel in 5th grade, i would hole up in my room for entire day long reading events on the weekends. i became a speed reader. i was thrilled by insight, restraint, well developed characters, engaging story. and that love has never changed. in highscool i wrote and wrote - for classes, in my journals...wherever, whenever i could. but i never thought i was good enough so i stopped. i keep this blog going because at least it's been a way for me to speak. but in truth i don't put much time or effort into it because, well- what is the point? in the grand scheme of thing, very few people read it or care. but maybe i've been wrong and there is a point. the point is writing, isn't it? the point is to write, even if no one will read it - because it's what i am driven to do, because i can't stop, because i can't help it, because it feels right. and now that i've had another minorly edited piece of creative writing accepted for ultrarunning magazine i am starting to wonder. and think. i know, UR mag isn't Newsweek, believe me. But if i can do something good enough for them with very little effort, could i do something even better for somebody else? if i worked- really worked at it?
i am telling you this by way of explanation. i am not breaking up with you, and though it seems it- i am not giving you the cold shoulder. but i owe you the truth. i've been having an affair... cheating on you with MS word processor. perhaps the pages i produce will be buried with me one day, having never seen the light of day. but they sure as hell will die with me if i keep all of those words inside. i can't win the game if i don't play. and if i lose - well, at least i got to participate. it's enough. it's worthwhile just to be allowed to play.
i'll be here, from time to time with (hopefully) witty anecdotes, and of course to tell you about my adventures. don't worry - you will be fine. there are plenty of stay-home mama-minimalist ultrarunner-adventurers out there in blog world to keep you company. i can give you a recommendation if you need one.
i hope you are well, and staying warm and believing in yourself. you can do it - whatever it is you are trying to do. you can do it.