Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Confession

I was doing fine. I could sit at a keyboard and just push the cursor, exploring my thoughts and saving worry for later (you know worry, right? Worry about plot, structure, and syntax, worry over whether I’m any good, worry if I’ll ever be paid to do what I love). The worlds in my head proved fine places to spend hours of morning frolic.

Nine AM was like a doomsday bell so I decided to move to part-time. Instead of two or three hours of writing, I would do four or five. I'd wander into Books & Books around eleven, then I’d leave early, ensuring Andi and I had a healthy dinner. She’d been lax with her diet (I mean diet in an end-stage-renal-failure, dialysis, waiting-on-the-transplant-list way, not an her-ass-was-big way) and it had cost her.

I didn’t mention to Mitchell that I felt my marriage was coming loose from its railings, but he went for it. When I moved out a few months later and money became paramount, he was just as happy to keep me at full-time. He also offered stellar advice. There’s something good about working for a man, vs. The Man.

I’ve covered how the separation has affected my writing in some detail (like here and here), as well as the tentative steps to recovery. I had a string of days when I’d gotten up to write, and I believed the worst was behind me. Then I agreed to meet Andi for coffee.

I’ve looked back through my journal. Do you know how many times I’ve used the word “divorce?” Three. First was the hopeful and pathetic, “We’re not divorced yet.” Second was in a book title, File for Divorce in Florida Without Children. Finally, I was speaking of how I agreed to have coffee with Andi because I thought it would be odd otherwise. “Haven’t spoken in a while, how have you been? Great, sign these divorce papers.”

How many times have I used the word divorce in this blog? I can’t do a “find” search like it's a Word document, but I’m going out on a limb and claiming a big, fat goose egg. I’ll bet a week of dinners that I've talked separation, dissolution of marriage, failure, etc. the same as in my journal, but have never used the word divorce.

Weird, how you can anticipate a thing, even actively work toward it for months, yet shy from naming it.

Naming something doesn’t help get your mind around it. If there was a word describing how it feels to sit across from someone you’ve been in love with for years and seeing her as a closed door instead of a sanctuary, feeling a bubble of hurt and hate and resentment in your gut and wishing it outweighed the love and knowing it never will, would having a word which encompassed all that help me feel it? Let’s try calling it flarg.

“I sat there, holding my latte, feeling flarg as we discussed our divorce.”

“I looked at her for the first time in months, surprised how her hair had continued to grow despite my absence from her life. Flarg pounded through my veins as she sat down.”

“Our body language makes it obvious to everyone. I see them trying not to stare, pretending to read and talk about other things while they watch us share flarg.”

Nah, doesn’t help at all.

The morning after coffee, the snooze button was once again my best friend. Not a coincidence.

I wouldn’t call this writer’s block. When I think of writer’s block, I imagine staring at a blinking cursor wishing your brain could talk your fingers into moving it, or someone sitting at an old-school typewriter, pulling page after page from the roller and crumpling them in frustration; I’ve just been sleeping.

Whether I go to bed at nine PM or two in the morning, I’ll still hit the snooze button for hours. Soon I realize I’ve squandered my writing time and need to get to my job. Getting out of bed for my job is too depressing to contemplate, so I just lay there, staring at the ceiling, purring cat on my belly, trying to cajole myself out of bed.

I watched South Park on DVD last night until exhaustion took me some time past midnight, but my eyes popped open just before my alarm rang at five. I hit snooze. I lay there, remembering when every morning felt like a reward, a fresh page, a new chance to get it right. I asked myself what I wanted to do with my life. I stopped snoozing.

The few paragraphs of fiction I pecked this morning took an hour and fifteen minutes. I couldn’t believe how much time had passed, how little I’d done, but I know when it’s time to move on to other things… like whiny blogs.

Not much, but it’s a start. Again.


  1. Naming isn't {but feels like it's} shaming. {I remember it well}

    To whine is fine too.

    Can you do cheese and whine?

    That would be cool.

    kind regards......Al.

  2. As Jess Walter writes in The Financial Lives of the Poets, “It is the only unforgivable thing, really…to feel sorry for yourself.”

    Sometimes I can't stop the self-pity party, but a nice Zinfandel or Malbec helps me forgive myself.

    Thanks for reading.

  3. And there's not enough forgiveness - or merlot -in this world.