Reality Smackdown

It’s getting to be that time when I get antsy at not writing anything more creative than student papers–student papers, as far as I can tell, require sourcing good information and then organizing and explaining that information coherently. It’s a skill set for sure, but it doesn’t give me a buzz. Okay, it does give me a buzz, but it’s not a creative buzz, it’s a “look at how well I can follow guidelines” buzz. Reasonable Girl thrives in the academic setting, she’s so reasonable it’s amazing. But Reasonable Girl secretly craves the ultra-rare big sexy rush of creative writing.

Meanwhile, I hear some gurgling in the background, and it’s not my tummy digesting cake (at least not today)–my creative wellspring is gurgling. It’s not an angry gurgle yet, but it could be, soon! The spring is telling me I have a whole backlog of weird half lived fantasies and notions that need some kind of funneling, or my dreams are going to keep getting weirder, and I’m not even taking anti malaria drugs anymore.

I’m doing the multi-identity juggling again. The worker, student, girlfriend, wannabe author smack down is in full force, plus there’s the added pressure of the holidays: I have to be a good family member in a variety of settings as well. In the next 30 days, I’ll hang out with a 5 month old. I’ll also hang out with a 91 and 90 year old. I will be flexible; I will be kind; I will be tired.

The good news is that I only have two more school papers to go. I’ve got pretty much all the pieces I need to complete my generative, academic oeuvres. And then, one blessed month from now, I will have one blessed month to goof off. That month of will be chock full of a ridiculous lack of things to do at night. I will unveil my other superhero identity yet again, the one with the small cape, the writer person who right now has been closet-ted and ignored for a bit too long. Yay small cape. I see you hanging. You’ll be dusted off in no time.

Reasonable Girl Vs. Buzzee Bee

So I have a new alter ego in my life: busy bee, or for marketing purposes, Buzzee Bee. Buzzee Bee is frantically roaming the world, going from project to project, trying to suck up all the inspiration before the season’s up.

Reasonable Girl, who would like to take a measured, polite assessment of what’s doable and get a good night’s sleep, is still in there, but she’s getting shouted over by Buzzee Bee.

I was trying to embrace Reasonable Girl, but I find myself staying up later and later, pushing myself to get more and more done, and constantly feeling preoccupied, slightly overwhelmed, and often (and most lethally): unfocused.

I’m hoping that my assuming the guise of Buzzee Bee for Halloween will somehow be an act of healing exorcism and that on November 1, I can cut off my wings, put my Reasonable Girl cape back on and get a bit more sleep.

The Ren Faire

After I wrote my third paper of the semester’s seven, we took off for the PA Renaissance Faire. I’m always intrigued by what gets acted out at the Renaissance Faire. I like that the space embraces misfits and curiosity seekers of all stripes. I always wonder at the elaborate costumes some wear. I wonder at the meaning of the costumes, the getting of the costumes, how often the costume gets worn and under what circumstances and in what company. Is it a special occasion, a Halloween of sorts, a once yearly occurrence? Or is this just another day in a specially constructed alternate reality? I enjoy costumes. I love the freedom people can feel when they slightly change their garb. I respect the need to redefine the self, enlarge the possibilities, look in the mirror and see someone new. All those things I get and love and have practiced myself in different ways over different ages.

After all, my memoir is about redefining parts of my self, repeatedly, over the years. Certain accessories and experiences have made me feel full of possibility and possibility is exciting.

What I came to understand after some experimentation with different costumes and styles was that all clothes are costumes of one type or another–we are constantly sending a message out into the world. In this period of my life I resort to reasonable girl costuming–totally unremarkable–because I see it as an all access pass. I threaten no one, I’m not very splashy, this lets me fade in and out of environments at will. Nothing is jarred in my passage and that gives me freedom to observe the world. I am un-aligned, unmarked, and in this simplicity I feel free.

Prayers Answered

Life is very exciting in these parts. I just tackled my second memoir chapter rewrite, and it felt downright successful. That’s two pleasurable chapter rewrites in a row. Inconceivable. (“Are you sure that word means what you think it means?”). Miraculous.

The experience is good because I can read feedback on particular chapters that tell me I’m currently failing and take the critique in stride, and when I re-read the chapters, my X-ray editor/writer vision is in full force. I can see when this empress has no clothes. And I have the gumption to make my own cloak and fix the problem. This is a very empowering process. I can be pointed to a problem, and I can tackle it. Oh sweet rewrite siren, how sweetly you sing.

Tonight, I also rewrote my intro to my book using language that I first plunked here. It’s been tweaked, but it’s still good and evocative (thanks Blog!). I also started re-organizing the order of the memoir chapters. The memoir order is not exactly chronological, but it’s now more thematic. Kind of.

I have to do homework, so i have to leave well enough alone for now, but I may have found a new technique: I get an hour (on nights when I have five hour homework stretches in front of me) to work on my memoir (timer and everything) and then I have to attend to homework. This creates a positive kind of force. I am compelled to face my fears, write, and be efficient, because my precious minutes are tick-tocking away. Oh the precious!

And with that. Good night.

The Gazillionth Rewrite

“I feel stupid and contagious” allows me to a) honor Nirvana belatedly (jumping on media bandwagon), and b) succinctly express how I feel when my writing group critiques my work. I have been working on my Frenchness and Identity piece for a while. I must be in my fifth major re-write/re-org at the very least. Last night I had the audacity to share the piece with my writing group, and those lovely wizards clarified the million different ways in which my piece is limping along on crutches, with a bad case of…(I don’t know. I want to say charlie horse, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong) broken ankle. They rightfully exhorted me to simplify, streamline, focus, deepen, add fuller scenes, and feel the rage. These are all excellent suggestions. I’m going to need to put on my small cape to tackle this mess. It’s not like it was a revelatory session, it was a session of dread. I hate being told that what I suspected all along was right–my nagging doubts are totally warranted. My piece doesn’t suck, it’s too tentacular. Tentacular spectacular. Apparently I have the outline of a book buried in an unevenly paced essay. Oh me oh my, I’m gonna have to work like the dickens to figure this out (again), after having worked so hard to figure it out (before) because nothing is damn linear for me when it comes to writing (darn).

“I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed”

Smells like teen spirit.

One Hour of Reading Explains Two Years of Writing

Tonight, I’ve been reading about (big words coming, so don’t freak out and abandon me here) Applied Symbolic Interactionism. It’s a social work theory formulated from 1890 to 1910 (stay with me…) and it freaking answers every question that drove the writing of my memoir. Okay, I’m exaggerating. It only answers or speaks to half the chapters. The chapter where I write in the second person, and my story about Frenchness and Identity–this theory can handle these questions. This theoretical framework specifically deals with multiple identities–internal and external, past and future, and across multiple clubs (e.g., France/America). Holy shit. That’s what my memoir is about: The imaginary, and the differences between the labels you inherit or are given and those you select for yourself. It’s deeply weird to have my narrative, story-based pieces explained in a structured theoretical framework. In one hour of reading what took me two years to write was explained. Can you guess how weird I feel right now?

Maybe I should be relieved that practitioners have been refining the theory for 120+ years. Does the existence of an explanatory theory nuke the need for a storytelling work? I don’t think so. But it’s a little bit like living in colonial Philadelphia with some back pain and being handed an x-ray of my spine. Several social work theorists can explain in elegant symbolic grammar what my brain has been toying with. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

It does confirm my decision to undertake these studies–I’m studying the right field which asks exactly the kinds of questions my brain likes to toy with. That’s a terrifyingly sexy turn of events. I have been enjoying the intellectual, moral and emotional stimulation of my schooling. But tonight I feel a little bit like Moses reading up on Exodus in the King James Bible.

I’m not sure what to with all this, or how it will impact my revision process, but I’m pretty freaking psyched and amazed, and with that, I’ll go read some more.

my small cape

This is my second blog site, but something about owning my own domain has changed the game for me. Maybe because it feels like I’m finally making a sizable commitment to my craft. You heard me–I really mean it this time (the claiming of a writerly identity I whisper).

The creation of this blog (a banal enough occurrence in the greater scheme) makes me feel like I’ve called a press conference and shown up, unmasked, holding a pen and wearing a cape. The cape wearing makes me slightly more sophisticated than my Jane Austen action figure because she doesn’t have a cape. (I feel bad when I look at her because I’ve lost one of her two accessories–the book is gone, but the feather tipped writing utensil remains.)

I’m so excited to write to you, dear reader, that I woke up at 5am unprompted for no good reason at all, besides my being hyper at the prospect of travel, studies, my shiny new two page website, manuscript readers, and the beginning of the school year at work.

My brain is no good whatsoever when it’s sleep deprived, so today’s modest writing goal was merely to print out three of my short storiesĀ (yay fiction!) so I could edit them in Montreal.

And now I’ve napped, and thus can blog. A good day to all.