Mimi asked how I find time to write a blog, and I said I only write about once a month so that hardly counts. It’s spring break, and I’m writing my never-ending YA adult Tarot card novel, which is so difficult because it’s all plot driven and figuring things out. Someone once wrote that I am a master of plot, but that is not true. Plot is my enemy. I just want to write. I want to run around on the page frolicking, letting myself go wherever the words lead, and saying whatever I want even if it’s stupid or mean. But writing like that is no good. In this story, it’s almost all holding back. Every day I look at the page with dread. Every day it seems impossible. So this is what people mean when they talk about the struggle of writing. Weirdly, the writing is good. Which seems wrong. Shouldn’t we see the dread, awkwardness and worry? It seems like we should see those things on the page.
Frieda decides to run away from home. What song would it be?
On the radio this morning an actor described making a film about the rape of Nanking. He worried because the actresses were required to cry so much and he said prolonged emotion is hard on actors but then, as he watched, one of the girls turned to him and winked. Can you do it even when don’t feel it? Larry McMurtry said he hated writing Lonesome Dove, but how could he not enjoy writing something that is such a pleasure to read?
It’s flooding in Oregon. The school where I work is an evacuation center. It’s selfish, but I love big weather. I wouldn’t feel this way if it were my family washed away or my home or anyone I knew or maybe if I had more imagination or heart.
Virginia Woolf said that we should write what interests us, what moves us. I ran away from home when I was fifteen, but now it feels like someone else.
I knew someone who couldn’t finish writing his book because he had fallen in love with his protagonist. Sometimes I fall in love with my made- up guys even though they hardly say anything and in real life I like men who can talk.
I finally figured out the plot for my book, The 5 ½ Senses of Frieda LaValle. Yes, it has a plot. It apparently has a plot which must first be carefully constructed. I have tried writing it the other way, the way that involves faith and avoids the hard thing: figuring it out ahead of time. Some people say that figuring it out ahead of time is too restrictive, but how can that be? Writing involves so many choices. Every dang thing is a choice. And anyway even if you do plan it, within that plan you make a thousand changes.
Now I have my plot and I just need to write the story. I had hoped to complete it before the end of winter break, but that is the day after tomorrow so it is unlikely.
I’ve begun my young adult novel yet again. How many ways can I write the same story? It was going to be my simple story, the one I wrote quickly, for fun. Oh, and my agent thought it would sell. Let’s be honest. The first version was disturbingly similar to the movie, The Sixth Sense. Something I didn’t notice until I had completed it. I went back and watched that movie again after someone pointed it out. I had taken the kitchen scene almost verbatim which made me wonder about myself. How much of what I think or imagine is my own? I rewrote the whole novel. I changed everything. I wrote it one way and I wrote it another. It is set in Portland. The protagonist is a sixteen year old girl whose mother died the previous year. My characters always have mother issues, but I don’t. I have a perfectly good mother. My characters have mothers who die or run off, who get arrested, who abandon them.
I am searching for the perfect coffeehouse in Corvallis, Oregon. I do like Market of Choice. MOC has comfortable chairs, is warm, serves Stumptown coffee. Today I am at Interzone, the hip coffeehouse near campus. It also has good coffee. Interzone is not a very good place for me to write because the music is sometimes discordant and it is not warm. Interzone has interesting art on its walls. There are tables outside but it is December and it will be a long time before we can sit out there. When I went to Paris I imagined I’d sit in coffeehouses but it was not so easy to do that. My German friend Maria took me to the coffeehouse where Sarte used to hang out but a cup of coffee cost $15 so I just took a picture of a man with a dog and left. So anyway when I tell myself that in Paris I would find a perfectly good coffee house, it is a lie. Oh, now Interzone is playing jazz and that is much more conducive to early mornings. A trumpet. Piano.
I can’t settle on my protagnonist’s name. Sometimes she is Frieda but other times she is Sophie. She was also Edie, briefly. Some writers say that the inability to decide on a name means the story itself is half baked but my story is not half baked. I just can’t seem to figure out how to tell it.
Yesterday I read Crystal’s Tarot cards and her ultimate outcome was three queens. Is it a violation of confidentiality to say that?
Does anyone else wonder about the Celtic Cross position “hopes and fears?” Waite’s book says “hopes or fears,” which has a different meaning entirely. Less interesting but more simple to interpret.
A woman with a bright pink umbrella walks down the street. It is late December and the students are gone.
I’m reading On the Natural History of Destruction by WG Sebold about Germany after the war, the terrible destruction of it cities and how no one talked about it. Even the Germans themselves did not seem to comment. German writers did not write about it. My mother’s family was from Aachen which was destroyed. They were from Auchen, Alsace Lorraine and County Kildare.
I’m reading Hemingway for class.
Years ago Chuck’s great aunts hired a genealogist but when the genealogist found out they were Jewish, the aunts had the research stopped. I have looked for what that genealogist found but haven’t been able to discover it. Chuck’s family is from Poland, Ireland, Normandy and Visingso. His grandmother was Swedish but she was the opposite of the characters in an Ingmar Bergman film. Her comment on almost everything, “Oh, it don’t matter.”
At a reading a man asked why I don’t write YA books and I said that I couldn’t because kids scrutinize you and I wasn’t up to it. Which was so phony. I had read that someplace. Really I didn’t know what to say. I was vaguely aware that he was being sarcastic, and told him the first thing that came to me. Why don’t you write YA books? It was like being asked why don’t you write westerns or why aren’t you a poet. If you see what I mean.
Musee des Beaux Arts
I decide that I want my protagonist’s wrapping paper to be designed with some detail from the Fool card in the Tarot. I google Fool card and get an image of the card. I mess around with the image, trying to make the little circles on the fool’s shirt bigger. They would make a good design for wrapping paper: circles, with something inside them. But what is inside them? Are those stars? I decide maybe Wikipedia will tell me if they are stars.
But when I google Wikipedia, I see an article saying that the Wikipedia guy’s appeal for money has worked. Wikipedia has been raking in donations. I read the reader’s comments about the donation article. I get pissed off because some asshole complains about Wikipedia’s entry concerning global warming. I start to get my debit card out to make a donation. Wait! First I should write a comment, telling the guy to stop being a jerk. Oh, a lot of people have already done that for me. I read through their comments. Most them agree. Shut up. Wikipedia is cool. We love it. Our kids love it.
My day job is at an elementary school library. I say I’m a librarian because functionally that’s what I am, but I’m not a real, honest- to- God librarian with a degree in library science. The schools don’t hire librarians like that because then they’d have to pay them a regular, middle-class wage.
I read books and I write them. I don’t write children’s books although a reviewer suggested (in a rather mean- spirited way, I must say) that I might try it. Writing about children is not at all the same as writing for children. First of all. Also, I’m interested in adult relationships, adult problems, and adult flaws. I’m interested in the way that good and evil set side by side. This blog is not going to be all about me. I told Chuck that there is no one more self-absorbed than a writer with a newly published book. I asked him if I’m talking about myself too much and he said no, but he’d tell me if I started to.