Thursday, February 25, 2010

Devil's Club

I put the finishing touches on the Bitch today, and tomorrow I'll send it off to my editor at Broadway Books. Yesterday I read the entire thing out loud to hear how it sounds. The book sounds pretty good, but now I sound like a frog. And I'm singing in my cousin's wedding Saturday.

Ah, well. I'll just pretend I'm Bob Dylan singing Panis Angelicus.

The first thing I did after confirming for the twelfth time that yes, the chapters are in order and no, I didn't lapse into gibberish in the epilogue, was to read S.P. Miskowski's story, Devil's Club. I've been waiting to read it until I could give it my full attention and it was the perfect way to celebrate the end of many months of writing and revising.

It's the story of a boy, Winston, who's been lured out of the house in the middle of the night by a girl who says their missing classmate is being held captive by a witch who lives in the woods.

The writing is lovely:

Once they were past the fence, Winston stumbled along a dirt route so narrow it was nothing but a footpath scuffed up between the trees. He took hold of leaves and branches along the way and pulled himself forward, up inclines and around swollen roots protruding from the earth like the knuckles of giant fingers. As he approached a big-leaf maple, he caught hold of a licorice fern sticking out from its mossy trunk. He pulled himself forward with all his might. As he did, his right hand stripped the fern bare, leaving a slender, jagged cut across his palm. It stung so bad his eyes watered, but he didn’t complain.

If you like scary stories, I highly recommend it. This one is creepy and wonderful. (And if you like S.P.'s style, check out her collection of stories, Red Poppies.)

Now, I rest.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Frederick Seidel sez

From The Paris Review Interview:

I will say that learning how to write has to do in part with learning how to accede to yourself and your object, instead of writing what you think you ought to write, or what at that point in time the world thinks poetry is about. Or what you think you ought to be about. The moment comes, if it ever comes, when you have enough strength to give way, to give in to being who you are, to give in to your themes. Giving in to your obsessions, giving in to the things that you will be writing about over and over. And sometimes the things you'll be writing about over and over are things that some people don't find very nice.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Just In

Husband: Whatcha been doing?
Me: Writing a post about how writing makes you crazy.
Husband: Ah, yes, something we've learned a little about this week.
Husband: How are your cancers?


Failure, Exhaustion, Madness

I love this essay by novelist Rebecca Brown. It's about failure.

I have a few things to say about it. But until the book is done (in two weeks) I can't seem to write about anything else. The posts I want to write will have to wait. Yoga Bitch has got me by the throat.

It's almost done.

And you know what?

I'm tired. I am bone tired. I'm so tired my eyes ache and my throat hurts and I have this little throb that comes and goes at my temples, as well as a few cases of psychic cancers in various parts of my body. Today, and last night, I was fully convinced that I actually have three different kinds of cancer, all brought on by periodic bouts of smoking and low self-esteem. I even tried one of those stupid visualization exercises where you envision your body filled with golden light, but you know what? That's such bullshit. There's no golden light. Even if there were, that golden light would do nothing but illuminate all those tumors.

Also? I'm lying. I didn't try that visualization exercise. I thought about that visualization exercise, and then I ate a bowl of ice cream.

Tired. When the phone rang just now I considered throwing it out the window just in case there was somebody on the other line who might want something from me, and I cannot give anyone anything because I am too tired. I'm tempted to wear the same clothes every day just because the thought of having to launder them makes me feel crazy, like my brain has split into twelve parts, one for each item in the laundry basket.

(Actually, I do wear the same clothes every day. But that's another story for another time!)

Writing makes me nuts. It makes everybody nuts. We're all fucking nuts. What does it, what makes you completely balls-out insane, is that even when you're this tired, even when you think you can't bear to look at the four million sentences sitting on your desk, waiting for you to improve them, you must. Because there is still work to be done. There is always more work to be done, and no matter how much you put into it, no matter how many drafts you do, how painstakingly you go over your sentences and how solidly you build your structure, it still might not be good enough.

But wait! There's something even crazier! The craziest thing of all is that I want to do this for the rest of my life. There's nothing else I'd rather do.

Except, perhaps, sleep.