23 February 2015

Lying-ass Song

 ...Some things in this world
Do not depend on speech to be felt.
That is how Terrance Hayes new book, How to Be Drawn*, ends. The lines seem to both soothe and to warn. They are almost a hex.

There is a listlessness in the end of winter. It's like the final days of illness when you are feeling better, have an appetite, even energy. But you are still hacking up phlegm and oozing from your nose. You may go back to work/school/etc. but you will be coughing like death for a few more days.

You might lose your voice.

How does one get back their lost voice?

Hook up a battery to it and jump?

Mid-semester and I am not writing. I'm editing, which is great, let's not get hysterical about this. But I am not producing new. It is easy to blame this on teaching. That I am spending a lot of brain-space on being creative in a different way.

The reality is that I get tired too easily.

I have very specific spaces that I am able to get creative work done in.

Mental and physical.

I need to be rested, but not too rested. Awake, but not over energized that I can't sit. Distracted by my surroundings just enough to go to that imagination place to make weird connections, but not too distracted that I start transcribing the lyrics tot he song playing or start live tweeting the conversations at the next table.

I need to have a jolt of creation, but not a jolt of someone else's energy.

If this all sounds like excuses. Well. It feels that way to me too. But these are the rules that my brain has given for the 'work' to commence.

Lately. It just hasn't.

That isn't to say I am out of ideas. I have mapped out a series of linked short stories. I've reworked bits of the novel-in-never-ending-progress. I organized a chapbook and printed a bunch of poems to try and pin together a manuscript. I even wrote a new poem the other day.

But it doesn't FEEL. And maybe this is a limit of that word. Or of the word 'work' or 'creativity' or or or or or.

I keep waiting to feel like I've turned a corner, or the ball is rolling, or something akin to that absolutely not able to be defined thing.

Maybe I'm waiting to be an 'adult'. Or a 'professional'. Or.

The Hayes quote above ends with this:
Remember too that the eyes are not flesh,
That crisis is initiated by the absence of witness,
That Orpheus, in time, became nothing
But a lying-ass song
Sung for the woman he failed.
It isn't that I am waiting.
It is that I am not sure I ever learned how to feel it when it gets here.

* How to Be Drawn is out March 31 2015 from Penguin

31 January 2015

I Do So Well In Chaos...

January was difficult.

Expensive car issues. Prolonged illness. The semester beginning.

I'm choosing to think of it as a late expulsion of all the stress from last year. My body held this toxic mess in for a very long time. It had no choice in the new year but to release.

While staring at my $4000 worth of bills that I've accumulated since Jan 1st, this thought makes it very slightly (very very slightly) better.

Below is the reading list for my lit class - Body Snatchers: The Fragility of Identity. I include it as a means to illustrate where my mind has been.

The Lifespan of a Fact - John D'Agata & Jim Fingal
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Lose Your Mother - Saidiya Hartman
City of Glass - Paul Auster
Every Day - David Levithan
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson

There are a bunch of other readings inserted around these main texts. Those readings have so far included A Million Little Pieces by James Frey and Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima. I tend to wing the extra readings. Trying to gauge where the conversation is leading and what the room's interests are.

The class came from a place of being fascinated with the idea of public vs. private faces. How we are different people in different situations.

The mess that was my January isn't fatal, it isn't dire. Being sick for 10 days was not great and I'm still recovering, the car issues are expensive but will work out. All will be well, settled, etc. But it feels connected to the year I had in 2014.

I'm not a super private person. I adhere to the open book style of living. I don't see a benefit in holding cards close. That being said, I don't discuss my private life too much on social media. This is because I've begun to see online as less an extension of my private face and more an extension of my public one.

I think that MySpace, Facebook, Livejournal, etc were at one point a space for close friends to see your thoughts. They were a weird liminal space between private and public persona. Today that is pretty much off the table unless you don't mind being a complete open public person. Some of us seem content to exist in this public/private space. I'm not completely sold on it. But I don't have a child whose every movement I can plaster all over social media. That may sound judgey, and it is, a little, but I really don't care what people do with themselves.

All of this is a round-about way of introducing the idea that 2014 was hard for me. I didn't really deal with that. And it seems to be tied to how my 2015 has begun.

The big thread in all of those books up there? The theft of identity. The stripping of it in various forms. In each of those books there is a kidnapping of sorts. And in each a fallout blankets the lives involved.

2015 is, for better or worse, a year of fallout.