I have staff training later today. (Please imagine me twirling a staff around and besting orcs, but really it’s a hell of a lot more boring than that. Think icebreakers and stale donuts.) People are going to ask me how my winter “vacation” was.
I have spent the last six days revising my damn manuscript to submit to a damn contest I won’t win anyway. I have a good 600 words about what my manuscript is and where is it going. But the four-sentence summary of my book is killing me. I have one good sentence.
What’s it like to revise your manuscript for six days? I’m a little bit concerned I’m losing friends as I have ducked all social engagements. My spouse is tired of seeing me either hunched over the computer or asleep at strange hours because this shit is hard and drinking at 11 am is discouraged.
The dog is pretty happy about my new strange sleep schedule, but his brain is the size of a walnut, so what does he know?
How do you tell people about how you spend the time? How do you write those last two sentences?
How do you write a memoir?
“It seems to me…that you start out with what you know or what you think you know and you work within those ‘truthful’ boundaries until you reach some sort of wilderness of not knowing and then you find a way through until you see an end, or you find a way through until you find the end that you’ve already seen. It can work either way: running away from the truth or running out of it”
Chuck as cited in Abigail Thomas’ What Comes Next and How to Like It
I’m fucking grateful that WordPress decided to automatically format my numbered lists, because it knows better than me how I want my goddamned numbered list to look.
I’m fucking grateful that my neighbors hate me because being nice to people is a pain in the ass and takes time.
I’m fucking grateful that Second Job is starting up soon because other people’s angst makes me focus less on my own.
I’m fucking grateful that writing is hard. Otherwise I’d get all smug and shit. No one likes that.
I’m fucking grateful that my parents are gone because if they knew how much I cussed they would despair of me.
What are you grateful for?
I’ve been circling Graywolf Press for years. It was Notes from No Man’s Land that did it for me. That and many years ago I probably tried to get a job there. They were (deservedly) the darlings of AWP last year. It was lovely to see people mob their table and ignore the bored-looking sales rep. at HarperCollins.
They have a contest ending in less than a week. And I do love me some ridiculous deadlines. But they are looking for innovative literary nonfiction. I asked everyone who has read my MS if I am innovative. I don’t really think I am, but sometimes other people know things that I don’t know.
I asked DP whether I should submit, whether my work is innovative. He has not read my work, but he knows what it is about.
“What does innovative even mean? Do you like the press?”
“Yes,” I said with my heart in my throat.
“Then submit. Did you get the mail today?”
And then Downith said, “I doubt a man would be worried his work was innovative enough.”
And so I’m going to do it, as you folks are my witnesses. I keep thinking of the Barbara Kingsolver line in Animal Dreams. The main character watches a man drink half a beer (or soda, I forget) in one gulp and reflects that thing that annoys her the most about men were the things they did without even realizing they could.
What annoys you?
I’m making slow but steady process through my revision of (god help me) draft 18. On my facebook page, I saw a chirpy blog post from someone who was just bowled over that she had finished a book. She had written it in six months and (wait for it) then took over a year to revise.
One of DP’s favorite response to hecklers/people who shout things at him from cars is “I remember my first beer.” You might need to hear his tone of voice for it to make sense. Also he got it from Steve Martin, so maybe you could imagine Steve Martin saying it.
I remember my first book.
Here are some other things that I have been reading/listening to that put me in a better mood.
Rappers and rhyme: this article gives away some of my well-kept poet secrets
Key and Peele’s pirate chantey should not be missed, nor should it be listened to when there are small children around
And those who are interested in Culinary Clause (trademark pending), this is what I made for dinner last night. Do not be put off by the sardines. It was amazing.
What has been distracting you?
I finished a marathon telephone conversation with my beta reader. It had been interrupted by days, toddlers, phone calls from other people, work duties, and general exhaustion. But good things happened.
There is a high likelihood that she solved the structural problem that has been troubling me for, um, years. And I am cautiously
optimistic hysterical with happiness.
It turns out when you write 17 drafts of a thing, and you have stark raving ADD, you tend to repeat yourself. This is not the surprise. The surprise is that now you have three perfectly good places where you can write abut the topic and you get to pick which one works best.
Paternal Clause always bought a new notebook at the beginning of a new project. Yesterday while picking up the kind of drugs that make January less of a slog (yay, self-care!), I bought a new green binder. I was tired of looking at my old one, and anyway the rings were not holding on as well as they used to.
I’m printing it out and going back in. I was going to make this into a real blog post, but beloved people, I have shit to do.
Scene: DP and Indy Clause going home after a business conversation with a professional grown-up-type person
Indy to DP: I didn’t mean to be weird in the beginning, but she was saying things that just weren’t how I felt.
DP: She was trying to empathize with you.
Indy: I appreciate that. But I wasn’t worried about what she thought I was worried about.
DP: A lot of people try to empathize with you, but they don’t understand that you’re a [last name redacted].
Indy: You’re right, I never feel the way people expect me to feel. That explains everything.
How often do you forget that you’re not like other people?