Thursday, January 12, 2012

pee run

I sometimes run to the bathroom, when it is morning and the pressure to pee comes on my like a fierce competitor, on my tiptoes, quickly, my arms flailing by my boobs like I'm an impotent, useless, miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is a strange run. Silly and feminine. Yet I growl.

ROWR, get outta the way. I need to peeeeee...

When I talk to my children about Buddhism and compassion and connectedness, I never talk to them about the pee run we all have. That completely unself-conscious run we do when faced with a tiny tank. Desperation and pressure and fear of wetting oneself is the great equalizer, loves. When we hold our water, us humans run silly. We are all under the same great sun, crouching over the same dark hole in the ground.

I've decided that I don't have to write here anymore. You know, just when I feel like it. But I want to write here. I want to paint still, but I don't want the pressure to paint. I feel slightly lost, wandering the hallways, wrist bent slightly in mimic of the pee run. I feel like that--a kind of pressure to get somewhere, but I don't know where. I think in blog post length after years of this writing.

I have organized all my drawers in the last few weeks. My junk drawers dumped and sorted, my utensils decluttered. I took out every piece of food item in my pantry, wiped and organized and inventoried. I checked dates. I cleaned my art studio. I put craft and art supplies in bins according to their use. The kids have had their too small clothes weeded out. My desk drawer, my sock drawer, my bathroom shizzle. I am avoiding writing, you know, the big book. I asked a nun if I could sit and have coffee with her. My main character joins the convent at some point, after years of drug abuse and alcoholism, after she sees God in the desert.

The nun laughed.
"Sure. I'd love it. It is a crazy process to be a nun."
"Can I bring a tape recorder?"
"Sure, Angie. It'll be fun. Can I ask you about writing a novel?"
"It is a crazy process to write a novel. So crazy, I haven't done it yet."

I don't know what to ask. I just want to do something productive towards the end. I have this thing. It hangs out on the computer, and mocks me. "Don't you have something to go paint, lady? I'm not sure if you are disciplined enough to write a whole book. You are like a gnat with an espresso habit. You like shiny objects, and I am dull and I don't make any noises. I don't whirl, or growl, or run like a girl."

I am hard on myself. I have this internal voice that is much like a basketball coach, perhaps Bobby Knight. On a good day, it says, "You can do it, kid. You are money." When it is a bad day, I throw chairs at myself. It is abusive and harsh and reminds me that I am nothing if I don't work. Obsessively, and without pause. That can be both good and bad. I am working on the internal voice. It has gotten nicer since I have gotten sober, which is a cool bonus of not drinking. Still, when I sit here in blogger, rather than Word, I know that my inner Bobby Knight is going to rage.

It makes my bladder weak. And then I have to run.

I have been reading about writing lately. I highly recommend Ann Patchett's the Getaway Car. I find her extraordinary. Anyone else have any good writer-y writing you want to pass on? What have you been reading lately? Any good motivational advice for an itinerate, unmotivated writer? What are you procrastinating on?


  1. I was intrigued by the Patchett book (had never heard of it) but it looks like it's only available as an e-book. I've always liked Ann Lamott's Bird by Bird, though it's been a while since I read it.

    I'm procrastinating from editing multiple chapters about a computer program I don't know at all and from cleaning my office. (If I had time to really clear stuff out and rearrange I'd be more motivated on the latter). And that is keeping me from writing a bunch of letters I want to write, reading, and well I'm too tired to figure out what else right now.

    You can write a book.

  2. I feel like I'm holding my breath.

    My youngest starts Kindy (Aussie preschool) in February and it'll be the first time I have hours to myself during the day for over seven years. I have a list of "Once I ever find the time, I'll ________" that spans a page.

    Writery advice...hmm...the biggest thing I worked on was my Master's thesis. My MA was in socio-cultural anthropology, so the thesis was a blend of ethnography, oral histories, and autobiography (I wrote about my ancestors' old community that doesn't exist any longer except in memory). The actual process of writing was organic...I didn't write in any particular order--sections bloomed next to each other. It seemed to take a life of its own and didn't turn out as I had imagined, but I was pleased with the end result (my supervisors were too, thankfully). I think the big lesson was to let go of preconceived notions and trust the process. If you are true to yourself, the process will not lead you astray. However, it may take you somewhere else...places off your imagined map.

    That and editing is golden. Ha. I'm very much a last minute type of writer and I do myself a disservice consistently by never allowing enough time for revision.

    Good luck! You can do it. I've thought about fiction writing as well, but all of my experience has been in non-fiction so I question if I could successfully transition.

  3. See, I suppose that awkward sentence should be, "it'll be the first time in over seven years that I have hours to myself during the day." Note to self, proofread. And add more coffee. *rolling my eyes* Ha ha.

  4. Do you think that the pressure you feel is just a fear of not being able to produce the quality of work you desire?

    I love your writing. I don't always comment but this much I can say you have a way with words. I have dreamt for my whole life about writing a book, novel, short story. I start and I stumble and I never finish but your words on just your blog show a gift that I lack.

    I think writing sometimes just has to be pen to paper and jumbled thoughts. Maybe you need to run at that story like you run at the toilet. Just start throwing things into the hole and when you are ready, start to decipher into a format.

    I can't wait to see what you create. Your going to make something amazing.

  5. Bird by bird...I will definitely look into that. And J. good advice. I should say that I have a good chunk of writing done, but not enough.

    And Paula, YES! Fear of failure is a huge thing for me right now. Fiction writing has always been a dream, but it has never really panned out. I've never had a short story published, or any fiction really. Only essays and poetry, so I am afraid to devote time to something that I might not be very good at. I think you are right, absolutely. I need to just do it. There is this cycling thing people always says, To get good at cycling you need tits--Time In The Saddle. That is what I need--time in the computer chair. I hope to read your writing, Paula...I'm procrastinating, so send me some.

  6. I'm not a writer, so I feel like the annoying person who doesn't get it who tries to pass along some shitty quote or advice. Wishing you much writing energy get into with vim and vigor :)

    I'm procrastinating on get our back bedroom painted. It's sat torn up and ignored for like, 2 months now. Both L and I can't seem to dive into it.

    I believe you will write a book. This book? Or others. Or both.

  7. Of course you can write a book!

    I would love to hear - what did the nun have to say? Or can that be encapsulated? (Or maybe you haven't actually gotten to talk with her quite yet.)

    Re: Ann Patchett - I read this a while back and wonder what her perspective is. Every piece of paper, no matter how thin, always has two sides.

    Write on, Angie,

    Cathy in Missouri

  8. I'll second Bird by Bird. It's funny and encouraging and helpful. Writing is damned hard, and one of the things that makes it hard is that it can be such a mix of things -sometimes feels so good to do, amazingly good, and sometimes it's almost unbearably hard and slow and frustrating. Your Bobby Knight inner voice is very familiar to me; your writing about it made me smile and wince.

    I am drafting another scholarly article right now, for hopeful publication, so that I can hopefully secure my job. Because I like security. But part of me wants to fail so that I have reason to go look for public librarian jobs and read/review (and write, maybe) more fiction. Which may be why I procrastinated writing it for, oh, a year.

    You can write a book. And I hope to be reading your book one day soon.

  9. Wishing you heaps of writing energy whenever your heart desires it. As for procrastination... I am an expert on that. Taxes, laundry, cleaning or continuing to write to the book that is in my draft-folder (well, not actually a book yet, just a third of it).

    I've had intervals where I would hack away for hours each day. And I've had phases where I'd just note down the route, stations and actions. I have the rough story in my head... maybe that's the issue.

    One day I'll vanish into a beach-hut and finish the whole thing. Or I won't... one of those great mysteries in life. But I know one thing: Rachel's last sentence... totally on the spot. xo

  10. Hahahaha... what DON'T I procrastinate on??? Right now, it's work (shhhh...) -- which for me is... writing, corporate writing. Somehow, I don't think "writer's block" quite cuts it as an excuse in the corporate world.

    Right now, I am (finally) reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (before I try to talk dh into going to the movie). Pulpy, but fun.

    One book I enjoyed last year was "Come to Edge" by Christina Haag, about her longtime on-again-off-again relationship with JFK Jr. She wrote a piece this past week for the Wall Street Journal about how she approached writing her memoir, which you might find interesting:

    Any book you buy, I will write. : )


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