8.01.2011

Bookstore-Itis

Parties are boring. This we have decided.

Not that we are drowning in invitations, but my husband and I do attend the occasional parties, and always end up together (thankfully) in the kitchen, talking to each other and helping out the host with dishes, clean-up, etc. Explanations for this strange behavior vary, but can be summed up by saying we like each other, have outgrown most of our vices, and don't enjoy chit-chat.

On one of these nights recently, while the other guests stumbled past in togas, we had an important conversation. We are both artists; he is a sculptor, I'm a writer. Between kids, work and life, our time to pursue these passions is a narrow slice between dinner and bed, or a few hours here and there on a Sunday afternoon.

But the passion we feel for these pursuits is in inverse proportion to the time we have to give to them.

This necessitates planning, though planning what to write is a bit like planning how to fall in love: not much good. You can't plan a trance, you can't plan a swoon, you can't plan passion. Nevertheless, when stuck in that place where all your brain and heart want to do is WRITE, but your body is in a kitchen at a party full of people wearing bed sheets, plan you will. It's the next best thing.

Late last year I finished the first draft of a novel. I'm happy about that. Somewhere along the five year way of this novel, I decided it was young-adult in nature, however, and I think that's where I may have lost my way. In other words, by putting that frame on it, I think I may have skewed it in a direction I don't like.

I don't know this, but I sense it.

I sent it off, as recorded in this space, and it was at first greatly received and then rejected by the agency. They were kind and gave fair criticism.

Most of the way through the next year now (month 8) I have realized two things: One, I think the novel needs major revision. Two, I miss writing, and should not forestall writing because I don't know how to approach these major revisions.

At the toga party, my husband told me he thought I should set a regular writing time which was unbreakable, and work on some poetry and shorter prose pieces. Have some fun.

I think he's right. In fact, I know he is, the way that when someone says something out loud that's what you've been thinking all along.

Whenever I go to a bookstore I feel a little ill...so many books, so many great ones and so many mediocre ones. And I come away with two thoughts...what an odd thing it is to do. And if you're going to do it, make it the best, strongest, purest, wildest thing you can. Love it.

But if you can't, at this point, reach the shores of revision on that novel, as I can't seem to, continue to practice your art, craft, or whatever you want to call it. Not because you should, or I should, but because when it isn't being the worse toothache in your life from the want of it, it is the best feeling ever in the doing of it.

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