So, friends, bots, countryfolk, I don’t know. It’s going alright in my estimation. Yesterday, I was a bit draggy, and today, too. But in the morning, I conquered a few items on my to-do list that had been hanging there. We had some curious Mercury-in-Retrograde situations to deal with here. It snowed.
But that’s not what has me so above par. I finished the book. Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, if you’re here and not on my post of a couple days ago when I started it and had about a thousand or more words to spend on losing my mind.
It took only two days to read. It makes me laugh, I suppose, that I don’t often read because I’m afraid to read imperfectly. I actually saw a friend on Twitter talk about this and I think it’s true. It takes us longer sometimes, we don’t always fall with this perfect grace into a created world and that hiccup-feeling makes me think that I’m getting dumber. That I’m no longer within easy reach of these gifts that I felt (and feel) define me and, when I’m at my most cynical, kept me safe up in the aerie, my observer’s perch.
If it’s all not easy, then maybe they’ve changed the password on the secret genius fortress. And you’re just one of the madding crowd. A non-reader. A non-creative. Plodding. A fraud in the eyes of everyone over the years who put these laurels on me and praised my ability with the written word. Over the past eight years, spending the amount of time I wanted to spend on my writing always felt self-indulgent, and when I did, it wasn’t easy. I would try and settle down with a book, one I loved, or a new one from an author I knew I adored and their style was engaging and within ten minutes or less, my eyes started to glance towards my computer, and I realized that I’d been on auto-pilot. No actual comprehension of the words had taken place. I’d turned the page and hadn’t seen anything. This, I thought, was frightening. This was not right.
There were always things that took precedence, even just laying there, empty felt better than confirming your own ineptitude. Schrodinger’s Reader. I just wanted it to feel the way it did when I was a kid, a luge run, a friction-free field where there was nothing to slow you or stop you but the tactile concerns of turning the page. I just felt stupid, not that I was stressed and worried about work and myself and my future and that I’d pressurized everything and screwed on the lid. It was, and is, another failure on the pile. A part of myself discarded because it wasn’t precisely useful all the time to everyone around me.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times. A sign of the result of having a new job and a new-found request to make myself happy, to let things pass through me instead of sticking like burning pitch in my heart. But I read it and I didn’t worry about if I red gud. Or pretty. Or the way those girls do. Or the way that serious-minded writers read. I didn’t worry if it took me a year to read it, I was curious. And I flew through it, sticking to every word as though they were little post-it notes.
My heart felt the story deeply, but I think, more than anything I’m grateful for the reminder to try, to ask, to not assume understanding. To not be angry that the flowers still live and they’re weird and spindly and drab colors more often than not. I’m not Amanda Palmer-scale on average. But there are parts of me that I think approach it.
So I’m using the page how I want to and writing on my own. I think the 500 word number is still really important. I’m holding fast to that. But I do recognize that patting myself on the back for doing this when what I want – want deeply – is to be a writer of publishable, cohesive fictions and poems. I can stand and deliver, but the practice I need now is to remember the palette of story. To shroud myself in the glories of language. To make things and fix ’em, and send them into the world.