Archive for August, 2006

because i’m catholic? or because i’m crazy?

August 30, 2006

Today has not been a particularly successful day of writing. And you’d think I could handle that. However, the guilt has been overwhelming, perhaps because I have a couple frequent reminders that I should be writing.

First, the author of a blog I read regularly has been posting somewhat more intermittently than usual, and with good reason. She’s trying to write a book herself. Lately, when I go to the blog for a little relaxing reading, a little break from my work, I find one of two things: a.) nothing, or b.) a post about how hard she’s working on her book. Not at all soothing, no.

Second, a squirrel has lately been using a tree near my window to air his (or her) lament to the world. I’m not sure what the source of this squirrel’s trouble is (neighborhood dogs on the prowl? acorns not ready for fall? twigs for nest are soaked because of all the rain??) but it seems as if he (or she) wants some answers from the small god of squirrel troubles. All I’ve been hearing all day is a sort of half-squeal, half-whine that sounds like “Weeeellllll? Weeeeeeeeellllllll??” As in, “Weeeeeeeellllll, small god of squirrel troubles, when are you going to give me a hand down here.”

To my ears, that squirrel is my conscience saying “Weeeellllll?? Are you going to just sit there, or are you going to write something?” “Weeeeeelllllll??? Is that all you can do?”

I know, I know. It’s not guilt, it’s clinical…

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and another thing…

August 23, 2006

I’m sorry.

This post

http://on-pens-and-needles.blogspot.com/2006/07/saying-so-long-to-culture-of-critique.html

is a sad excuse for a bridge.

It should be two separate posts. I know that. I just had trouble starting them both so…smash.

My bad.

remember when you got to go to europe for a semester?

August 23, 2006

I don’t. I’ve never been. I know it’s deplorable, but there it is. You can pity me, but I hope you’ll still consent to be my friend…

However, I do believe I now understand the freedom that comes with a foreign country–paid for by school or otherwise.

I’m officially on fellowship.

***
Today was difficult. I could barely contain myself. Everyone I know began teaching, but I did not. I’m not accustomed to that. Usually it’s the other way around. I have the jackass summer schedule and then I tamp it down while everyone else eases into fall as if A) it never mattered to begin with or B) they have some other, important, duty to contend with that doesn’t require teaching.

(I really do love teaching. I do.)

This year, everyone else had to create syllabi, summon good karma, and otherwise throw themselves prostrate to the machine. But I, I have a fellowship…

Before you start to hate me, let me explain: it makes me feel like a real writer. And anyone who’s read this blog knows how much I struggle with the Lack.

It just made me feel professional, you know? As if I had something to say. I wonder how anyone else would feel if an institution said, yeah, go ahead, work that dissertation…we’ll cover it!

It’s glorious.

***
A friend emailed me about getting together tomorrow for coffee and inquired about my new “prestigious” position, to which I replied:

–Are you talking about the prestigious position that doesn’t require us to teach for an entire semester? Yeah, I started that one. Felt weird. I slept through the night for the first “first-day” ever.

I’ll see you tomorrow. With some work.

But how awesome is it???
–Jen

***
The first question I’m going to ask Susan–who also has a fellowship–before I plunge into more reading and writing and reading and writing is:

Is this live?

I can hardly believe it myself…

Where are the hoops? How high must I jump?

***
Some Fitzgerald then, if I may…

Then they were in an elevator bound skyward.
“What floor, please?” said the elevator man.
“Any floor,” said Mr. In.
“Top floor,” said Mr. Out.
“This is the top floor,” said the elevator man.
“Have another floor put on,” said Mr. Out.
“Higher,” said Mr. In.
“Heaven,” said Mr. Out.

***
And yes, I get it.

metaphors we live by

August 1, 2006

My metaphor of choice for the beginning of my writing process has always been that of pouring peanut butter out of a jar—an exceedingly slow, subtle shift of matter culminating in a resounding “plop” when the entire mass lands on the page. Today, I’m turning in that metaphor for a new model. Today, I am a plane, overburdened with the cargo of a million other writers, packed to the hilt with information and ideas (what belongs to me, if anything?), desperate to get this thing off the ground, but feeling the immense weight of the anxiety of influence.

Feel free to extend the metaphor as far as you wish. There’s plenty of fodder in entailments like baggage, drag, endurance, “airworthiness”…you get the picture.