Sunday, January 8, 2012

Trying to wrap up the writer's workshop over the din of a circular saw

You know, two weeks ago when I was safely ensconsed in a boardroom with other writers talking about My Book for 5 days, it actually felt......possible. An attainable goal. I was going to write a book.

And then I came home and the kids were here 24-7 because school was on winter break, and the shed was being built, and to help that process along someone showed up with a compressor to run a nail gun, and the circular saw got set up outside my window, and now I cannot even type my fucking NAME without having to check my notes.

This is ridiculous. I just read an NPR interview where this woman self-published books on Amazon and sold over a million copies, and she said that you have to be willing to make the commitment, and put in the effort, and do the work to write a whole book.

I cannot even commit to finishing a blog post in less than 4 days.

I haven't showered since Thursday.

The baby keeps crying, the kids are always shrieking, and people are standing outside yelling at me through the windows. It's all very unsettling. I want to go back to the boardroom, with it's central air and pitchers of ice water and notable lack of power tools and screaming. I need to get that mojo back.

So I decided to review the reading materials we were given at workshop. And I fell asleep. This is a disaster. I don't understand how anyone can do this. In the spiral bound document I received on the first day of workshop, there were two important topics relative to my current status: "Structure" and "Process"

I have no idea how to even approach writing the book. Where do I begin? How do I begin? What story am I trying to tell? It actually ties in with something we talked a lot about at Camp Mighty. Intention. What is my intent, with writing this book. Is it an exorcism, a purge, or a reflection.....

Strange to see these two events coming together to lead me towards my goal. It makes me feel as though my subconscious wants me to write this book more than I do. Which may be so. My subconscious won't have to deal with my relatives if I publish a memoir. Should I use fake names, approach it as a novel, just call it "inspired by actual events"? Do I want to lay all the cards on the table, or should I just run away.

I need Kenny Rogers to tell me what the hell to do. Because I need to do something.

Outside of my kitchen window the framework is slowly rising up. If you ask the county, it's a storage shed. 10 feet by 12 feet, carefully measured out to avoid the expense and hassle of permitting. Outside of the windows, a row of palm trees - short and stubby, not coconut palms - some other decorative dwarfed palm. A bright red hibiscus shrub. A plumeria tree that may or may not survive whatever blight it is afflicted with.

There will be a sleeping loft and a desk. Rough wooden floors - I specifically did not want finished flooring. Sam wonders aloud if I am channeling the Unabomber, I prefer Thoreau, but it is a matter of opinion, I suppose, until my work is complete. I think sometimes he wonders if I am losing my mind, with this manic compulsion to get things out of my head and onto the page. Who wouldn't want flooring and consistent electricity to write on a computer? I think he's making this too complicated. Solar power and no running water. It will be my refuge. Peaceful unless we turn on the record player, which will sit on a small table with a stack of 33s underneath. We went to the record store in Wailuku last week and sat on the dusty floorboards with a large Coke Icee, the fan whirring overhead, singing along to Amy Winehouse's new album, sorting through the used records choosing the soundtrack for my writing: Carole King, James Taylor, Culture Club. Because why the hell not.

The room - the storage shed - has become a necessity. All too often I am seized with a thought or a memory that I need to get out. It is almost like needing a hit, this compulsion to write. When it comes, I am unable to concentrate on other things until it is released, squeezed out of my system - sometimes more quickly than others. And standing up in the middle of dinner and telling everyone they have to get the hell out of the living room because Mommy has to write RIGHT THIS MINUTE is simply not an option (though god knows, I've tried.) Nothing is organized or planned out. The idea of sitting down and being organized and consistent enough to write a book is daunting. How will I still my mind and focus long enough for that.

Maybe I should take that Adderall my doctor suggested afterall. Adult-onset, post menopausal ADD is real, apparently.
For now, I can live with escaping to my room, shutting the door after asking everyone to just keep their voices down for a minute. Or jotting down quick notes, and settling in for a good writing session later on. Or typing a few words into my phone's memo app to refer to later. Sometimes that is helpful, and sometimes I stare at the words and think "what the HELL was I talking about?" Nothing makes me crazier than thinking of something - story, anecdote, idea or inspiration - and then - by the time I sit down to write - having it disappear into thin air.

That happens a lot these days. I can live with it, but barely.

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