Today I started tackling my Countess of Paris story, which is about my father’s family lore, and how people perceive me, and what it’s like hanging out in 5 star hotels for one week a year. I’m in archeological dig mode, where I see what I’ve written and I try to perceive the story beneath the words, the emotion that was surging in me when I picked a particular phrase, and to make sure that this emotion properly animates and is captured in the language. So I did a bunch of rewriting at the beginning of my story, and I think I need to string a couple of themes through, and then totally redo my ending, and then poof. Done. Sounds easy, right?
So I’m back to stealing Stephen King’s metaphor, because he desperately needs the publicity, which is writing as an archeological dig.
Or maybe this kind of writing and editing is more of a distillation process. You start with watery fumes and you try to obtain a purer essence, one pass at a time. So wish me luck. I feel like I’m on a roll. Or at least I’m faking it until I attain it.
(So much so in fact that in a fit of 7:49am delusion I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which is a yearly challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s a lot of words, and I don’t think I have the time for it, but just imagine, how fun it would be if I actually pulled it off!)
Last night I did some homework and I’ve never had such an intense, reflective, and enthusiastic response to academic reading. I’ve landed on a planet of like-minded thinkers. My very own secret society. My brain is being stretched in good ways, really hard and really fast. Emerging notions:
1) I magically happened upon the right academic discipline–the books I’m reading are reflecting my values back to me, but in a really structured, theoretical, thoughtful academic way. It’s like there’s an alternate dimension where all my values and concerns about the structure of society are taken into account, and that dimension (for me) is called Social Work. The downside is that my homework makes me question the memoir I’ve just spent two years writing. I realize that in another three years, at the end of this training, I would write a totally different book. But maybe that’s something to look forward to–a new memoir about becoming a social worker.
2) I’m begin forced to ask some really big questions about my values and my core beliefs about American society and human life, and what I believe is the best way to go about helping society change. These questions can’t be asked without a measure of pragmatic skepticism. Caught between idealism, professionalism, and pragmatic skepticism, I feel really vulnerable. My new professional orientation speaks to a set of beliefs that will need to be examined and defended. I’m realizing my own mixed feelings. I want to help, but I am skeptical of the helping orientation because it has a such a spotty history.
3) I’ve stumbled into a conversation about theory. After a lifetime of avoiding theory, the time has come to immerse myself in theoretical mapping. I’m being pushed in my formal social work training to take theory into account and try to have a lively relationship with it, moving back and forth between theory and practice, letting each realm inform the other in an endless feedback loop.
These are the thoughts provoked after exactly 2.5 hours of class and 2.5 hours of homework. My mind is gonna get blown on a weekly basis. I guess I better get used to it.