Funny Bone Ache

•July 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Now that every circuit in my brain isn’t tied up in writing, I thought I’d make an effort to do some reading for a change. We’ve had a copy of George Carlin’s book “When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops” on the bookshelf for a while: it was a gift from my Mom to the Curmudgeonly Lion at Christmas because of a running family joke about the fact that they always seem to serve pork whenever we come to visit. I hadn’t bothered trying to crack it for the last six months, but it seemed like it might be a fun and easy book to give me a toehold back into the reading habit.

This has not turned out to be the case.

I *think* the book is supposed to be funny, but if it is then I still haven’t gotten to the good bits. The text is divided up into disparate units under various headings which may or may not relate to one another. It’s like reading the train of thought of your misogynist uncle who got ahold of a dictophone after having a few beers.

Generally speaking, I like the comedic styling of George Carlin: I like his irreverent attitude towards institutions of power, and I don’t mind jokes being slightly off color of they make a good point… That said, the humor in this book (Copyright 2004) has not aged well. Men are stupid. Women are crazy. How gross can we get about sex and gynecology? Good, political correctness is the worst, amiright?

Have I, as my generation had so often been accused, lost my sense of humor? Or is it shitty humor that people used to get away with? I mean, I know that humor lives in the same neighborhood as transgression and discomfort, but usually it has a twist that makes a point. So far this book just feels like someone just trying to push the edge for the sake of edginess, and to say things that are shocking just to get a rise out of people. But it mostly feels like being pummeled. A lot of the jokes feel like they are “punching down”: making fun of people with less power than the speaker like a bully telling a joke about the weird kid on the playground: it’s easy and obvious and I expected better.

Anyway, I’ll give it a few more pages, but I might have to give it up. I used to be the kind of person who would hate-read a book to the end just to finish it: as if abandoning the book without finishing it was somehow letting the terrorists win. Increasingly, though, I keep telling myself that there are too many good books in the world to waste my precious reading time on one that doesn’t resonate with me.


Now What?

•July 1, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was Monday morning and the Curmudgeonly Lion had already left for work, so I had the house to myself for about forty five minutes. Normally, I would’ve used that time for writing, but the draft was finished now. Finished and spell checked. Finished and spell checked and printed, laboriously, on the household printer: requiring a new ink cartridge and multiple infusions of paper. It was time for me to stop picking at it, already.

I contented myself (no pun intended) by creating a table of contents and a title page and a handful of other small formatting tasks. Trying to be near the work without actually working on it. I’d promised myself that I’d put it aside for the summer: the whole summer, and let it rest. But I’d worked on it so long and hard that now I was struggling to let go. I’d spent the weekend occupying myself with social pursuits: going to a friend’s Game Night on Saturday, taking a scenic drive along the coast with the Curmudgeonly Lion on Sunday, going to another friend’s housewarming party afterwards, and after that hosting my writer’s group. I did laundry. I taught myself how to make Cornish pasties (*Actually, they’re only considered Cornish pastys if they come from the Cornwall region of Great Britain, otherwise they’re just sparkling meat pies*); Anything to keep my mind occupied.

But now it was Monday morning and now I was getting on the bus for my morning commute, and now what was I going to do?

Surf social media, is what.

I’m sure there were more productive things that I could do with my time, but I caught myself avoiding them. I’d spent so much time in the company of this particular muse that now I didn’t know what to do without a project at hand. Now that I’d completed the story, would the voice leave me? Had I set enough of it free that it wouldn’t need me anymore? This character had belonged to me for so long that he felt like family: but he wouldn’t be mine forever- as soon as people began reading his story he would belong to them. And maybe the book would take off and gain a life of its own- a part of me felt this was inevitable- and then he would be bigger than me and evolve in unexpected ways that I wouldn’t be able to help our control.

I hoped the world would be good to him, but there were no guarantees.

I thought I might be starting to understand what parents go through.

So, I spent the day in a kind of neutral holding pattern between feelings- waiting for some reaction to hit. A sense of victory or a sense of loss or a sense of satisfaction…

It didn’t really hit until therapy. I was trying to describe my sense of self and suddenly strong emotions bubbled up over the fear of losing this part of me that had gotten me through such a tumultuous time in my life. I wondered whether I needed to let go- to set this part of myself free. Aurelius pointed out that i wouldn’t really be losing a part of myself: that this part of me was just as connected to me as any other person: real or remembered or invented and that I couldn’t lose that. I wasn’t sure I understood completely, but I felt reassured.

So, I gave myself permission to stay near the work for a while: to write up a summary, to update my query letter, to consider questions to ask my beta readers. With a little time and space, hopefully something new will come along to seize my attention.


•June 28, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I have crossed a threshold, friends and readers: I’ve graduated from someone who is writing a novel, to someone who has written a novel.

Past tense.

Mission accomplished.

I’m pleased to present: the complete first draft of “Enfant Terrible”: a boozy, neon spiral of sex, drugs, rock n roll, colorful language, explicit content and poor taste.

Damen Warner is the front man for a metalcore band that has hit the skids. Stranded and broke, he and his bandmates return to their hometown of Chicago on the promise of having a chance to play Lollapalooza, but once there he is forced to confront his past and reconnect with his estranged family in order to grow up… or die trying.

942 pages. 256,767 words (792 of which are the word ‘fuck’ and derivations thereof, reader be warned). If Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson and Neil Strauss were to meet at a crossroads at midnight on a moonless night to duel for literary supremacy with ink and prose, this book would be the creature that crawled out of the ashes and gained sentience to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world. A monstrous tome, indeed, if I do say so myself.

And I couldn’t be more proud.


•June 27, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I went straight from work to the hairdressers yesterday in order to get my hair trimmed. We have a wedding coming up on the first weekend in July and I keep having to remind myself that that is next week.

Yikes. Where did June go?

This is what happens when you get to preoccupied with a deadline: it tends to be kind of blinding to everything else. If it weren’t for this wedding and the logistical arrangements related to it, I wouldn’t have started thinking about July at all, frankly. Partly this is because all my mental resources are tied up in work, housekeeping and writing right now, and partly because I have this fantasy of spending a few months living without goals for a change, which sounds pleasantly unstructured, but is hard to look forward to in any specific way. And there’s a chance my best laid plans of having no plans might be thwarted anyway: already I’ve had a friend ask if I’d be interested in collaborating on a film, and I’ve made a list of interesting outings that I hope to share with the Curmudgeonly Lion, and I’ve become the new de facto leader of my writers group, and… and… and…

But that’s how it goes sometimes.

For now, I’m still in writer mode for another few days. I’m sure you will be reading ALL about it since I seem to be incapable of blogging about anything else these days, but it should ease off after that. Stay tuned.

•June 25, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Today’s going to be the day. I told myself, Today is going to be the day I finish the final chapter of my novel.

But I lied.

Not on purpose: I’d felt pretty certain about myself first thing in the morning, and I did diligently work on all my usual writing breaks and made good progress: just not quite enough. And I made the mistake of giving in to temptation to tinker with an earlier chapter in order to set up a plot point in more smoothly instead of just jamming it into the unfinished chapter simply because that was the only “unfinished” bit.

The perils of working non linearly.

But every day I move a little bit closer to the finish line and I’m still on track to meet my deadline, although I might have to spend a day or two afterwards running a spell check and doing a continuity read to check for plot holes.

Every day a step forward…


•June 24, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Not my artwork, but a To Do list that I need to take to heart.

I’m in a curious mindspace today. It’s one of those days where I can sense that there is a lot of work going on somewhere below the level of conscious thought and I don’t have any insight into what it is about or why it is suddenly requiring so much of my mental resources. All I can do is hear the whirring and grinding and sit in vague apprehension while I wait for some result to emerge; all the while hoping that I won’t see smoke.

This sense of unease and restlessness has manifested itself in the form of nervous housekeeping. On Saturday I found myself scrubbing the grease off the hood over the stove, followed by offloading a dozen bolts of fabric onto a friend in order to get them out of storage. It suddenly became very important that I sweep the back stoop, and organize all the bric a brac on the shelf outside the kitchen window. It suddenly became very important for me to change the towels under the dish drainer. It suddenly became very important for me to change the sheets. On Sunday I organized receipts and for down into the corners of the bathroom with bleach cleaner and a sponge to scrub away grit that otherwise resists the conventional swiffer.

On one hand: my baseboards look lovely for a change. On the other hand, this is not normal behavior for me.

While I appreciate the new tidy surfaces and sense of orderliness, I can’t help but wonder if I’m compensating for some other form of anxiety. Perhaps this was some elaborate kind of procrastination designed to prevent me from writing- the closer I get to my self imposed deadline the more I seem to find excuses not to write. Or maybe it has to do with worry over money or the renewal of our lease or poor upcoming travel plans. Or maybe it’s not worry at all but a surge of motivation coming upon me now that the slog of depression is lifted and I’m just not used to it. Difficult for me to say one way or another.

I guess the bottom line is that I find myself in a place of anticipation for Some Big Thing that I don’t really know what to expect and I’m finding ways to keep myself busy to avoid dwelling on it.

Time will tell.

Money Mood

•June 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

If I’m honest with myself, the day started off in a Mood. Nothing was wrong exactly, just everything was Not Quite Right. Woke up too soon before the alarm, put the wrong lunch items in the wrong bag, bad hair day, etc. The world seemed to be especially full of sharp points and hard edges at a time when I seemed to be made entirely of bare feet and tender underbelly.

The biggest issue on my mind was money.

We had just gotten our plane tickets for a four day visit to Chicago to attend a family wedding. We’d known that it was coming, but we weren’t exactly rolling in spare cash- you know money’s tight when you start debating whether buying new underwear is a luxury or a necessity- but we waited too long to get a good deal and now we had to bite the bullet and just git ‘er done.

So we did.

Now I was trying to work out an itinerary of visits for all the family we needed to see and all the places we had to go, and all I could think was this shouldn’t be so hard. I’m a grown woman approaching my late thirties- I ought to be able to travel home to see my folks without resorting to austerity measures.

Which then got me thinking about the state of my income and the state of my job and the state of my saving habits and the state of my home ownership prospects and I worked myself into a pretty good swivet over it.

For all my hopes and expectations, this isn’t where I thought I would be at this point in my life. This is the kind of life I expected to have in my twenties- a few years or of school, still aglow with optimism, scraping to get by, but certain that it would all pay off any minute now! By late thirties I figured I’d be in a career instead of a job. I figured I’d have enough income to be able to consider some of it “disposable”- or, at least, disposable enough to afford new underwear without asking myself if I really needed it. Disposable enough to be able to fly home for a long weekend without spasms of guilt over the cost and a spiral of existential angst about my life choices.

Man plans, god laughs.

Anyway, I seem to have gradually gotten my head on straight as the day went on. The worry isn’t gone, per se, but at least it is down to background noise. So things aren’t quite what I expected, but that’s ok. Everybody has to struggle to make the payoff feel sweet. My job is steady. My work is good. Good things are coming and I can change the things that need changing. It’s all going to be ok.

%d bloggers like this: