August 18, 2006

Under Pressure...Bird by Bird or not.

(Since this is a team-blog, we mostly keep things impersonal... if you're offended by a somewhat personal writing rant, I apologize, but I wanted to share this with you all. -t)

I hate writing; I love having written. - Dorothy Parker

Was looking for a knitting stitch (well, I wasn't really, but was looking at a site pointed out to me) just now. I am here at my desk, it is well after five p.m., the magical hour when I release the chains that bind me to this burgundy throne, and I am STILL HERE, disgusted, but... I have to finish this last bloody chapter before the weekend when we have friends and company and then there's the brunch next Sunday, and I don't have time, and I have a stupid music meeting next Wednesday, and somehow I got volunteered for the book thingy tomorrow, and I've got to finish this chapter, dear God, the month's almost over and I have appointments on Friday and I have to pick up my contacts and the library has a book on hold, and I have to get this to my agent before the editor loses interest..."

And then I read this knitter's post about writing that made me laugh out loud, and sigh a lot, and know I need to share it with you. You need to read the article for yourself, but the Yarn Harlot has it so right... "Towards the end of book writing I am shaky, sad, exhausted and out of my mind. ...add that I am also unreasonable, obnoxious and loud. (Very loud.)"

"...Book writing is strange and scary. You can't tell how long you're going to have to do it, what time you're going to finish, if it's going to be alright when you do finish, or if you're going to spend 3 hours dragging 500 words out of your brain only to look at them, realize 467 of them are complete crap and hit the delete key as you sob for the 14th time because you're going to need to find a way to carve another 3 hours out of your responsibilities ... probably so that you can write more complete drivel that no-one would ever like to read, knowing the whole time that your deadline is running out while you ponder that you've made an enormous mistake and really should go to work in a factory, where at least you can tell if you're getting something done and no-one tells you your punctuation is crap ..."

(or that "Teen agers don't wear acid wash," like you're a full-on born-again MORON...)

"... I am torn somehow between being profoundly aware of my luck, desperately grateful for the opportunity and deeply, deeply frightened."
Hear, hear. Sometimes I think, "What on earth convinced me that this was going to be a good livelihood? Why does anyone want to read this pointless, sucky little story? Hadn't I better get a job, just in case I actually have to SUPPORT MYSELF someday on something other than Saltines and a cardboard box!?"

I ... have to constantly balance "being a writer" with being a wife and mother. It's a matter of putting two different things first, simultaneously. - Madeleine L'Engle

You can be so quiet while people are talking to you. You can be utterly silent while you're in on the phone, chatting, talking over the breakfast table, making conversation in the hall. That's because you have a laptop downstairs, a computer upstairs, and sixteen pads of paper around the house where you're writing down the plot notes that keep sticking up from your forebrain like cowlicks. You're NOT LISTENING to any of the people around you. You're multi-tasking to the point of cell-phone user rudeness. You're inverted to the point of only needing someone else in the house so they can get you food.
The Yarn Harlot talks about housekeeping. Cleaning. Knowing you should, but you can't because you're 'working.' Then playing online Scrabble or checking Bloglines instead of actually working. Ranting about the mess anyway. And not doing anything about it until your 'cup runneth over.' And then boom -- things go flying, toilets water is sloshed, generally things are broken, and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Ah, the good life!

As a writer, I need an enormous amount of time alone. Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It's a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write. Having anybody watching that or attempting to share it with me would be grisly. - Paul Rudnick

I wish I could eat cereal out of a box. I can't even whisper to you the number of pounds that I have gained since March, doing this edit. Now I'm not eating any carbohydrates at all, I've sworn off them, 'til Thanksgiving, and I'm vowing to drag myself to the gym EVERY day WITHOUT fail... just as soon as I finish this bloody edit. Which means I have one more week. It's like quitting smoking and biting your nails at the same time you decide to take driving lessons from your rageaholic stepfather. WHAT WAS I THINKING!?

It's nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums to get rid of. - Shirley Hazzard

I am beginning to see why families and spouses figure in so prominently in dedications and acknowledgements. I know I have been whiny, clingy, snappish, snarly, and whiny all over again. I have been lachrymose, self-pitying, self-defeating and selfish. I have been absolutely sickening. And I only have one hundred pages left. Mac & Lareverie, I tell you now, you have a place on the flyleaf of whatever novel I write, and stars, oh, stars, on your crowns...


Seren said...

No apology necessary -- I mean, heaven forbid you write about writing on a blog about writing. The nerve!

Oh, and amen to all that, sister.

DaviMack said...

Yes. Amen to it. See, the problem is? The problem is that you haven't embraced being a schlob to the degree that certain others have. You haven't accepted the fact that you need to hire a maid if you want it really cleaned.

I, on the other hand. Well, I've been told that I'm a schlob.

a. fortis said...

Amen to the amens.

You should see our house. I shudder to think what it's going to look like when we finish our addition...560 more square feet of mess, probably.

You know what really sucks, and I know you're going to sympathize? When you use cooking as a way to take a break and unwind, but it creates more dishes, more mess, and consequently more stress. Yay.

TadMack said...

And then, after you cook, you EAT.

I can embrace my schlobbishness. I can embrace my love of cooking and eat. But both? Simultaneously?

I'm too crazed right now to invite someone else into the mess. I'd have to clean the house first...