Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ah spring...

The vernal equinox packs a punch, doesn't it? The weather itself hardly matters - every writer I know is newly energized, deep in the work of creation.

I am, too. I'm doing a lot of painting, a lot of reaching into the Pere story and finding out what's there. And what I'm finding is that everything has to do with my dad and my stepdad. Not just the story itself; I knew that going in -- but the reason I'm avoiding writing it.

This all started in Iowa, of course. One night, we stayed up late coming to terms with the hard work we are each avoiding in our stories. Mine is about writing the truth of what happened when I was a kid. There's nothing scandalous or illegal there, but there is a lot of pain, and over the last 7 years I've been able to put that aside and enjoy being an adult. Because being an adult means I'm no longer a child, and no longer under anyone's emotional thumb. What can I say? It's been a nice vacation.

Writing Pere, however, means that I have to go be 11 again. This is not good news.

Last night, Heidi asked me what my big dragon was. What, she asked, was stopping me? What was my huge fear? This is, more or less, what I said to her:

I have a huge fear of not finishing, after sending my last book through 6 freaking drafts and not ever getting to the point where I could call it done.

It's not even that it has to be right; it has to be recognizable as a novel. In that Act 3 is more than 4 pages long. So it's really hard to trust that this not-writing writing practice is actually part of the plan. It's hard to trust that letting myself steep in the story is the right thing to do.

The big dragon is definitely not finishing - and sitting on my ass doing nothing while I don't finish. Which, you know, looks a lot like steeping. I don't want to settle. And I do want the book to be a good book, but mostly I just want to make sure it's a satisfying read - which means the Black Moment has to be truly black, and there needs to be emotional justice, and it has to have some twists that people aren't expecting. That's what I mean by "finished," and I guess that's also what I mean by getting it right.

When I talk about getting it right, I see my stepfather holding my novel in his hand, like he's about to drop it on the floor, and rolling his eyes. Like, "You couldn't do any better than this?"

That's the dragon.

I know this is good news in the breakthrough sort of way - like, now that I know what the dragon looks like, I can fight him better, or hug him (because he's surely got his own dragon), or do whatever I have to do to disarm him.

But it also kind of sucks big donkey dick to find that no matter how far I've come, to truly put this behind me, I have to go back there and relive it.

Damn it. It's so easy floating along being charming and funny and light, and then this stuff comes up and you either deal with it or it sinks you, and no amount of charming and funny can save you.

So anyway, I'm signing up for some shiatsu massage at a local zen center. Shiatsu apparently cleans out your chi. That's good, because I think my chi is about as nasty as the shake machine at your local inner-city McDonald's.


Blogger Christine Wy said...

Can I tell you how much I wish I didn't identify with this post? Like really a lot.

"Trending upward" is my philosophy. I try not to demand perfection of myself but improvement. It doesn't actually work out all that well, but I try. You try it too.

I've been writing children's fiction and adult fiction, and the best stories get bogged down in my mind and clog me up. Maybe I need my chi cleaned too.

Oh, and I used to work at a dairy store. One of my favorite jobs was to clean the soft-serve machine to make sure it got done right. It could get pretty nasty in there.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I hate dealing with dragons. They are sneaky and have bad breath. I have some lurking in the corners, waiting for me to find them...good luck with yours!

9:10 AM  
Blogger inkgrrl said...

There's some quote about having the courage to go to your dark places... scary when that's where the really juicy stuff is. On the bright side, as Jenny puts it, writing is cheaper than therapy ;-)

10:31 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Rumi's a master of quotes like that. Turns out, so was Christ.

From JC: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

From Rumi: "Don't turn your head. Keep looking at the bandaged place. That's where the light enters you."

I bet Rumi was totally good in bed.

10:44 AM  

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