Like Everyone Else

It’s tempting to say that I don’t write like anyone else, but it’s totally dishonest. My approach to my topics is different than many people’s, and my style is neither linear nor entirely nonlinear.

Querying is about positioning yourself in a market, being like enough but also different.

I was going through a bad patch a few years ago due to [situation], and one of my friends said, “You might see the way that you are [that was partly responsible for getting me into the situation] as a fault, but it isn’t. It’s a strength.” She was telling me that I was not like other people, but that it was a good thing.

I’m working a slightly corporate job right now. Editors are always quirky. But even so, I keep running up against the wall of not being like the others. I don’t want to be (too much) other than what I am. But I’m tired of themes repeating across multiple aspects of my life. Really I just want to get my damn book published.

What are you like?

Crickets and Rejection

Let’s pretend I’ve been blogging regularly, so I don’t have to deal with the whiny acknowledgements of all that has happened since October 26. You know what has happened. You were there. I fucking hate blogs that consist of overapologetic posts after long pauses. Who is holding you to the posting three times a week habit? Nobody. No one needs to worship productivity.

My great NaNoWriMo scheme went fine. I wrote every day. I generated some ideas. A lot of my words sucked a lot. But now I’m feeling my way through a new writing project. Starting from the beginning is super difficult and it’s been slow going. There is nothing interesting to say on this subject right now.

I’ve been sending the Fucker out to agents. Crickets and rejection. No one cares about my little story in (kill me now) these unprecedented times. This is sort of fine. People need and want other kinds of books. I am going to take a break and send it out later. How much later? I don’t know.

And you know what? These times are not unprecedented. Plagues and uprisings are the stuff of history. We just like to think we are post-history self-inventing individuals who can manifest their future if only we’re productive enough.

And now I’m going back to my bullet journal (which I have and which helps me get through my day sometimes better than others).

How are you surviving history?

October Notes

I’m going to echo Lesley Wheeler here, because she is right as usual. Most of us are walking around stunned by the Kavanaugh confirmation. Perhaps we weren’t surprised, but as someone else said somewhere, it sure felt like a referendum on sexual assault. And the powers that be said, “Go ahead. It doesn’t matter.” Time to bring down those powers that be.

I imagine this is how African Americans felt when George Zimmerman was not charged in the death of Trayvon Martin, or when that white police officer got away with shooting Michael Brown in the back, or when Tamir Rice was killed at age 12 because a grown man thought he had a gun, and so on and so on. I feel guilty for not having felt this way when the police were/are killing black people. I was upset and outraged, for sure, but the feeling wasn’t visceral.

Among the stress is beauty. I live in a region that sucks in terms of fried chicken and biscuits, but has really gorgeous fall scenery. Today enough leaves have fallen that I can see the ridge. I’m not yearning for winter, but I do like to see the ridge again. In a few more weeks I will also be able to see the river.

I took a friend to her first poetry reading this morning. I think she liked it. As for me, I found it one of the best poetry readings I have been to in a long time. The poets were not super famous. They had read each other’s work, probably once they figured they were going to read together. They complimented and complemented each other. And they did not fill the space between their poems with bullshit. They said something pithy, and then they just read. I did not need to edit their work in my head.

What was your first poetry reading?


Rain and Creativity

It’s a good day to be an indoor dog, by which I mean to say that my dog went outside in the pouring rain, peed as quickly as she has ever peed in her life and galloped back in. My dog may look like a long-legged poodle, but she runs like a tiny horse.

I like the rain. It means I can stay inside without guilt and listen to the rain. It adds visual interest to my view (all those lines!). And I get to wonder if the neighboring cows care if it’s raining. (Anecdotal evidence would suggest no, and it might be that rain provides a relief from flies.) My little mountain comes and goes among the clouds.

Rain is a tether. Stay inside. Work. Do not bound up and try to go out and do something. It is wet out there. Get shit done.

Can you stand the rain?

Good Morning, Midnight

I’m one of those irritating people who (almost) always knows what time it is. My trick is to live a boringly predictable life with as much natural light as possible. (Yes, half of the reason I went freelance was that I had no windows at my full-time job.)

Yesterday, however, it got so dark because of an impending rainstorm that it reset my inner clock. I thought it was 6 p.m. at 2 p.m., and apparently that meant that I thought it was 6 a.m. at 2 a.m. too.

I need to copyedit things (my work slowdown sped back up for a few days at least), but I can’t tell if I’m coming or going. Lack of sleep makes me do weird things like hear Beethoven’s fifth in birdsong, wonder if I’m losing my mind, and then consider that Beethoven himself might have based his famous melody line on a birdsong.

ADD is exacerbated by lack of sleep. Between the last paragraph and this I spotted and identified a red squirrel in my yard (who knew they were so small??), got a glass of water, and found a radio station I could stand to listen to.

How’s your raging torrent of consciousness today?

The Ordinary

I’m not a big fan of holidays. There are many reasons for this. I used to work in retail; my parents died and were sick, respectively, relatively early, so holidays were painful and hard; and I hate to be told how to feel.

I am not pagan, but I love the celebrating the solstices and the equinoxes. I observe storms, winds, and the historic cold happening in my neck of the woods (and across much of the country). The drama of an ordinary sunset comforts me, as do mountains and rivers and even the shadow of trees on the snow.

Today I greeted the morning with relief. I can get up and do some work. I can celebrate wildlife tracks across my snowy backyard. I don’t have to feel one way or another. And what about my poor spouse, robbed of any joy in his life? Well here’s how the conversation went.

Me: Hey, I looked at some stuff online to do for New Years’ Eve, but it’s mostly dancing. You hate dancing.

Him: True.

Me: There are no good concerts. Anything in the area involves dancing.

Him: Oh.

Me: And the restaurants are stupid expensive and will be full of people. You hate parties.

Him: True.

Me: There are fireworks in [nearby town redacted], but it’s going to be 9 below.

Him: [Look of despair] But we need to eat.

Me: Let’s just go to [our local go-to restaurant]. You won’t miss the whole New Years’ lalala?

Him: Hell no. I hate that shit.

And so we had burgers (with local grass-fed beef) and fries and drinks (me) and dessert (him). It was an ordinary dinner that we’ve had at our ordinary restaurant before.

Maybe this is middle age. I used to go dancing on New Years Eve with my best friend at whatever gay bar was near where we lived at the time. That was also super fun. But I married a man who hates to dance and she married a woman whose birthday is on the 30th. I can’t exactly be like, “Hey, can I borrow your wife and go dancing?” anymore. At least not on New Years.

Holidays: are you for or against?

On Winter

It was 0 degrees when I woke up this morning. I was quietly grateful for modern heating systems, electricity, gas stoves, on-demand hot water, long underwear, and the fact that my dog wasn’t ready to go outside immediately. Since my move to the woods, I’ve been rereading a lot of the nature writing I loved in my twenties. I reread Rick Bass’ Winter for the third time.

He’s just so damn enthusiastic about going to the woods and cutting down trees, stacking and splitting woods, and living in the middle of nowhere. I live in a metropolis compared to his Yaak Valley, but I’m still testing myself against the blade of winter.

Part of me wants to go out and find refuge from the work being done on my house, to test my new gloves against the early-seeming cold, to find a warm coffeeshop to finish the paper I’m editing. The rest of me wants to crawl into bed and stay there for another few hours.

The weather will be novel for another few weeks yet. And I love talking about it. Are you obsessed by the weather?

Mocking the Dogs

It’s freaking hot in my neck of the woods. My dogs have been lying around trying to move as little as possible. And because I’m mean, I make fun of them for being lazy.

“Is the poor Sophie uncomfortable?” I asked. “Does she have to raise her head to look at me? Oh her life is hard.” For some reason I like to mock my dog in the third person.

Meanwhile I haven’t moved from the couch in hours to do anything other than stare blankly at the interior of my fridge and ignore the stack of dishes in the sink. Maybe my dog (on her side, directly in the path of the window air conditioning) knows how much I have to do to get this damn book written.

When I was at a residency, I learned I can draft a chapter in a week. I am still working on those first two chapters. When I begin to despair (like I did about 15 minutes ago), I have to remind myself that I am working on later drafts, not vomit drafts.

My dogs are probably making fun of me now. “Look at her, staring at the glowing screen. What does she think about all day? Why doesn’t she sleep all the time like us? What good is writing? Get a real job, like at a butcher shop, where you can bring home leftovers.”

And speaking of real jobs, tonight is my first time adjuncting since the fall. I have reached a point, dear readers, where I am no longer nervous standing in front of people. If you told me that would be the case ten years ago, I would have fallen over with surprise.

Who is mocking you today?

Writing, Marriage, and Grief

Today Paul wrote about an Iris Murdoch quote.

“Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.”

Iris Murdoch
“The Sublime and the Good”

At the risk of feeling as if I were doing a school assignment, I would like to respond. It’s been a complicated few months at Fangs and Clause Central. We’re contemplating a move to greener woods, if not pastures, certainly a greener state. This is looking more and more like it’s going to happen. I am excited, terrified, and sorry to leave a few important things about my current life. The rest I will not miss.

I finished the latest edits on the Small Beer book. In order to do this I neglected the dishes, my spouse, and anything that didn’t involve some variation of googling the ABV of a weisse. There has been drama at Second Job. Suffice it to say when I make it to the end of the day, I have no desire to talk to anyone about anything.

But there is my spouse, and he is real. I love him. And so I have to at least make the effort to listen, talk, respond, and otherwise nurture my relationship when all I want to do is crawl into bed with a book, alone.

But more immediately Spouse just went to say goodbye to a friend. His best friend is dying of cancer. How does one support another person through that, especially when he grieves differently than I do? (We all grieve differently of course.)

For 48 hours I am alone in the house. I am only responsible for getting my own self fed, to work, and back home again. (There are some dogs I have to take care of, but they are not too bad, and they are usually happy.) I’m trying not to feel guilty at being relieved to be alone. Books pile up on the spouse’s side of the bed after only 24 hours. Today I would rather stay in bed than go to work, but I am up and around because I love parts of Second Job too.

Grief is coming. The only reward is that we also have love.

This is what my brain looks like

In the past half-hour, I have done the following things:

taped an old train schedule onto my work notebook for pretty decoration because I am 12

printed out an email from my friend R about an article we might be writing (R, are we writing it? I think so.)

did a little freewrite about poetry and math

checked my work schedule

read a good blog post about facebook and writers

tried to remember the famous lit crit guy who said he knew all about topology but mathematicians said he was full of shit*

*(A lit crit guy full of shit? I was as shocked as anyone)

The previous action was prompted by the scientists who won the Nobel Prize in physics. They worked on topology. I tried (and failed) to read the Wikipedia article on topology.

went back to the internet and stared blankly at the tab. What the fuck was I about to look up? Oh yeah. Hurricane Matthew.

How’s your torrential stream of consciousness these days?