Sometimes I think that the more interesting work would be writing a memoir about trying to write this damn novel. I just can't find my voice. I know why I'm telling the story, but it's too intellectual. It doesn't appear to matter. When I am writing about my life, it matters. Being clear matters. This thing that I'm trying to do -- it's just a thing that needs energy, and though I'm trying to communicate that love doesn't have to look like it does in Harlequin novels to be bodice-ripping and delicious, in the guise of these characters that message keeps falling flat. There's no depth because it doesn't matter. I'm writing a fantasy.
The thing is, fantasy has it's place. Dreaming our way forward is a legitimate means of locomotion. If some of our hopes are unrealistic, well, that's life. Unrealistic goals are destructive when they create the expectation that anything different than them is less than them. All values other than x are different values, not necessarily lesser ones; unrealistic goals that provide an extra push are helpful. Fantasy has a place in the mind that is fluid in its dreams.
I am inspired by writers like Liz Gilbert and The Gluten-Free Girl. They go in search of truth for themselves, they do all this work to figure out how to live a good life -- for them -- and then they share it, without proselytizing. I want to do that. That's what this book is about for me: taking the tropes of the romance novel, showing that they all exist in real relationships, but showing that love happens with honest conversation. It doesn't just fall in your lap, most men don't have ESP, and being catty and coy will not get you the guy, most of the time.
I think the answer is right in front of my face: I can't write this book because I can't fictionalize my life. Only, I'm not doing that at all. I'm writing half-fiction half-memoir and then resisting my impulse to write reflectively.
Maybe I can write a memoir about trying to write a romance novel. And in order to do that... I have to get back to work.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Since my last post, I have indeed written a bit. Well, I’ve cut a lot, and written a very little bit of new material. Editing is writing, too.
This week, I have done a lot of thinking about the purpose and function of my novel, though I have produced little written work. The tree outside my writing window bloomed without me, as things tend to do. Though it is good to know how steadily the world moves without us there to see it, it was sad to miss the first leafing of that well-placed tree. Instead, I spent my early mornings on Watt’s Passage and Proffit Road, on my way to Ruckersville as the sun rose. All this week, I have been nannying for the most even-tempered, affectionate baby I’ve met in a long time. In fact, his diaper is pretty smelly right this very moment, so he’s giving me a reproachful look every minute or so and then returning to look at the window or the Baby Einstein toys he likes so much. In respect of that perfectly sweet trust, I am going to go change a poopy diaper. Be right back.
Yay! He didn’t pee on me! G’s only fault in the whole world is his timing with peeing – he like likes to do so just as I am changing his diaper.
I want to describe this little boy for a minute. He’s had his bottom two front teeth come in, so he looks a little like an upside down bunny when he smiles. He talks a lot, though his only grown-up words are ‘De dog’ (which means, I think, ‘there it is’ or ‘here we go’), and ‘Dada.’ He loves to walk around, but he needs my hands to do so. He does not like his pants to touch his feet. He hardly ever cries, and when he does, he stops as soon as you’ve fixed the problem. He’s quite independent in playing, and can sit with his toys for twenty minutes at a time, usually only vaguely interested in you if you come to play with him; but then, he crawls over and reaches up his arms to be held. Then, he’ll sit in your arms and be cuddled for quite some time. He listens to commands, like, “Please use your hands to hold the cup” and “No.” We sit on the couch and look at each other and laugh, just for fun. Why don't grown ups do that?
He has the most wonderful facial expressions. His favorite game is Flying. I put him on my shins, lay on my back, hold his hands, and bring my knees to my chest, keeping my calves parallel with the ground. He loves it. (I will miss this boy like there’s a hole in my abdomen when I leave him at the end of the week. The only reason I’m not cuddling him right now is that he needs to crawl around and try to stay standing for a while so he gets tired enough for his nap.)
When we go out, he sits quietly in my arms in the store and cuddles me. If he reaches for something on the shelf and I say no, he doesn’t freak. He takes good naps, and prefers to do so in my arms, though he’ll nap in a crib if I am gentle about putting him there. More than any of that, though, this little guy is my friend, and he’s the shit. We are kindred spirits, and we make each other smile all day long.
I shouldn’t be writing right now. I have a lot of work to do for my class on special ed and the show I’m teching opens this week so I haven’t done any of the reading… but I miss this. So, within the week, I will be posting the novel in installments online, rather than blogging – I miss communicating in this fashion when I don’t do it for a week, so I am hoping that I can satiate the urge to tell you all things by publishing online. If you would like the website, email me. Maybe I’ll also find the time to post. In between, I am sound and projections op on a play. It's nice to facilitate the spotlight for somebody else. I like being the mechanism of art.
In case my description of G doesn’t illustrate how perfect my week has been, I am going to share a list of all the things I’ve been in the last seven days to illustrate how idyllic it’s been:
Nap nest, chef’s minion, outrageous flirt, sound tech, cue-caller, all-purpose comfort device, diaper changer, chauffeur, mind reader, reader, player of the dressing game, kindred spirit, sunriser, witness to the morning, witness of steps, listener of gurgles, source of laughter, raspberrian, peek-a-boo expert, teething device, daughter, drool mop, burp cloth, dresser, jungle gym, light cue op, happy home, full of joy, mechanism of art.
After writing the first draft of this, G crawled onto my chest, drank his bottle, and then slept on me for two hours. Baby trust is scary. I slept a little, too, but it was a lighter sleep; I stayed close to the surface. When he twitched, I twitched, and vice versa.
Much connection can happen across age, without words.
Much connection can happen across age, without words.