I had a meeting with my fiction workshop teacher yesterday, and she used words like "thought-provoking" and "philosophical" and "bitter" and "darkly humorous" to describe the few pieces I've turned in at this point. This leaves me at an odd place in my consciousness that simultaneously soaks up praise like a withered and neglected porch plant and yet gently and uncomfortably rejects it because, my god, I'm still not much of a writer, and my fiction?--
When it comes to writing, there is nothing in my life that I have done with such singular constancy. In a very plodding and methodical way I have been writing with the intent to publish ever since I turned 16 and learned that I was to inherit my grandparents' 1982 Oldsmobile, a car so big that to park it was more like docking a boat. That car was an absolute bane to my very existence, so embarrassed was I to drive it to and from my small high school, about my small town. So, flipping through the 1998 edition of Poet's Market
, I decided I would sell
my poetry and collect enough money to buy myself a new car.
Ha ha ha.
Ha ha ha ha.
Have I ever mentioned I'm not very bright?
But, seriously. The kind of writing I aspire to in my poetry is a ruthless pounding away of submissions to unreachable and prestigious magazines. I even believe I might crack the market one day if I can ever first crack my own writing which, while it can be very lyrically pretty, lacks (I know this!) some sort of depth and darkness and meaning that would push it beyond the blandness it tends to acquire and into something more gripping, something that would create in people what I like to call an ah
moment--when you must put a poem down for a moment because it literally makes you go ah
And yet, not everyone would like to enjoy poetry, but most people like fiction, so I have for the past two years or so been trying to write a decent short story and feeling very uncomfortable about it all the while, to say the least. Fiction is so tricky, and I find that to do it well (or as well as I can, at least) I have to push myself out of the way of it as much as possible, and this is a feat of gargantuan proportions because I have always felt that my imagination sucks--just gave up and quit after my skinny eight year-old carcass retired its rompings through time machine clothes closets and African wilderness living rooms.
But, surprisingly, I've been getting better lately. And so slowly. One of my undergraduate professors told me once that I should never write fiction, didn't have the mind for it. He had taken a great interest in my poetry very early into my college career, and was so disappointed with the novella I turned into him for an independent study my last semester that he still won't return any of the emails that I have sent him since.
Or maybe he was more disappointed that I fell in love with one of my classmates and immediately ran off to Texas to get hitched. My parents sure were. But I digress.
I've been awkwardly pounding out the fiction lately, and it can be exhilarating when it's not going so exasperatingly slow, with me producing maybe a page a day and then doing more and more extensive revisions until my eyes cross and I can't even read my own words anymore. Of couse, this makes me sound like I'm a work horse, which I'm not. Writing fiction takes effort, and I can be so, so lazy.
But my teacher likes it. And I like that. And I don't like that. I need a certain amount of implied distaste in reaction to my writing just as much as I need praise, I guess. Just a small whip at my back. Something to keep me on my toes. Something to keep me a little angry.