Never Ask the Following Question(s)

I was on the phone with my very favorite second sister when she made the fateful error. “How is your book? Have you finished your book yet?”

My voice went chill. “What do you mean? Are you talking about our most recent murder mysteries [that we both read all the time] or do you mean the book book?”

“The book book. Hey, let’s both finish our books by this summer!”

Dearest, darlingest favoritest second sister [who reads this blog], somehow that’s not how this works. I keep thinking I’ve finished the book, or I’ve written all I can, when yet another person tells me it’s not ready, and I see what they mean.

I have an MFA in poetry. And minus one very very good graduate class in creative nonfiction, I’ve had to teach myself how to write a memoir. Poets just present you with three objects and allow the reader to draw her own conclusions. Evidently prose writers have to tell a story about those three objects.

I am not very good at telling stories. I get caught up in small details and backtrack and regress and tell it wrong anyway. Nevertheless she persisted.

Maybe if I got off the Internet. Maybe if I weren’t moving. Maybe if I didn’t have the attention span of a gnat. Maybe if I were better at physics. Maybe if all these things were true, my work would be done. But I doubt it.

I get jealous when I see other books published. But some of them are not thought through. Some of them have not found their form. Many of them sag in the middle.

But the only way out is through, and other such cliches. Wah, wah, wah, writing is hard.

What’s the worst question you’ve been asked?

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8 responses to “Never Ask the Following Question(s)

  1. Since i am second sister, you must be talking about me! Stop whingeing favorite fourth sister! Wah wah! I have a PhD in Phys Ed and i am writing a book about narrative.

    Worst question #1: what’s a narrative?

    Attention span of a gnat? Stop whingeing! wah wah!. You could be me and be a prEcrastinator. That’s someone who is hasty. Gets everything done (too) soon.

    Worst question #2: did you proof read it before you sent it off?

    Whoops…

    • No, that’s a great question! That means they liked it. I was once in a writing group where someone asked about my memoir, “Why do we want to read about family anyway?” Um, because I hope I’m going to make it interesting? Never mind.

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