A What?

Some friends, a couple, had us over for dinner one cold, cold evening in New York. We were having the usual catching-up chit chat over wine and preliminary finger food — trips taken, health of elderly parents, the usual. The husband, a doctor, mentioned a friend who had found himself in a terrible situation: The man had been driving upstate, had fallen asleep and his car had overturned. The man’s girlfriend, a woman he was on the verge of leaving, was very seriously injured.

You know how it’s said that a writer in an accident will note exactly how the blood pearls as it pours out of a wound, will record the precise angle of a broken limb? I knew instantly that I would write about this incident. Man, I took in every fine detail. It was so Ethan Frome.

“It’s a deliberate weird hybrid.
A long mixed metaphor. A kind of catachresis.”

Five years later, I took the basic frame of the facts, added a bit of fiction, and forged the language of one medium on to another. I’m not sure what to call the resulting piece. It’s a deliberate weird hybrid. A long mixed metaphor. A kind of catachresis.

The piece seemed so odd to me that I’d kept it on my hard drive since the spring of 2003. I recently sent it out, and it was published. You can read it here in Switchback, an online literary magazine.
[tags] Ethan Frome, catachresis[/tags]

Me, Me, Me

Haven’t been here lately. Two reasons, mainly:

One, the demands of rewriting the accurséd novel. Which is an insistent elephant foot on my chest. I cannot allow myself to write here because blogging squanders time. Big time. It was Calvin Trillin, I believe, who confessed that he feels pressure every time he has to write a note; he writes and rewrites it – even if it’s a note to put on his car. I know the feeling. A friend at work told me she found a typo in one of these posts. How funny that is, she said, because you’re an editor!

Two, writing here has started to feel faintly narcissistic to me. I mean, it feels like I’m only writing about myself, the subject I know best, of course. But, still. Feels weird. Perhaps because my father frowned on showing off? In our household, self-promotion = conceitedness = vanity. Not a good thing. Besides, who really cares what in hell I’m up to anyway?

A handful of people. My family, maybe. But I built this website because I wanted to have a permanent marker that I did actually walk this earth, and that I did write some stuff. I also wanted a place to direct people who ask me questions about my writing. Goes like this:

Hi, I hear you’re a writer!

Yes, I am.

Have you been published?

A little bit…

Will I have read anything you’ve written?

Uh. No.

See. Wouldn’t that make you feel like Ferdie, as they say in Jamaica? Yet, confidentially? I like that my listed occupation on my passport, on my tax returns is “writer.” That, because of all the corporate content I used to churn out for very handsome pay. Until I decided that writing in pantyhose, on eight-hour deadlines was the worst job I’d ever had.

Worse than my first job in America: a $90-a-week secretarial job in a perfume and flavor company in Cincinnati, Ohio when I’d come home reeking of the flavor of the day. Tangerine. New car aroma. Ox musk. Worse than temping with a bunch of certifiable flakes in an insurance company being closed down by its corporate headquarters. Worse than my college job of Weekend Word Processing Supervisor in a law firm at the height of Wall Street mergers and acquisitions. Lord, I’ve had some jobs, haven’t I?

So, people ask about the writing. Sometimes people ask more than once, twice, to let them read my work. Experience tells me it’s the idea of reading the stuff that non-writers like. They never get around to it — a manuscript in its raw form is hard to read, double-spaced and loose-leafed as it is. I know this as I know someone will leave the paper tray in the copy machine empty. Yet I hand it over.

It’s even worse with the website. The same people who say they can’t wait to read my work, have no real interest in logging on. [Incidentally, you might’ve read my last post where I invited writers to comment on rewriting. I wasn’t optimistic that anyone would. But my soliciting email did yield two comments – which I promptly lost when I deleted something on the backend, crashing the site. For the record, both Mary and Irene agreed with Karl that rewriting is a fresh and exciting opportunity for fiction writers.]

Then in troubleshooting my crashed site at WordPress, the weblog platform I use here, I stumbled on Lorelle VanFossen’s article on the writer as blogger, which then led me to this interesting piece,
The Author’s Dilemma: To Blog or Not to Blog by Claire E. White. Told you I was a master squanderer of time!

So, two questions:

One, should writers blogs?

And, two, how do you get over writing about yourself?