Wednesday, January 31, 2007

snow globe with a view.

At the moment I'm sitting in my favorite coffee shop. These past few days (weeks?) my life has fallen into an inefficient pattern of taking on more than I can possibly get done. Maybe it's the moon, but I seem to be a magnet towards people who need help (yes, and I'm a broken record too). There are times that this becomes incredibly frustrating. But there are other times that I find myself wrapped up in some very odd and enjoyable endeavors. Of course, finding a balance is important...something that I still haven't learned how to do.

In the coming week, I've somehow gotten myself involved in helping my (very wonderful and helpful) brother clean a big, nasty, neglected fish tank. My brother is the volunteer; I'm his assistant. After that I've been commissioned to paint a mural for a baby's room. The mural alone will take up much of February. I already feel panicked and stressed out about time. But painting a mural? How could I pass that up?! I wouldn't want to. But every day it is something--so many distractions--fighting for time and space in my mind that I don't have.

Thesis, be damned. I won't give up...but, my god, I am getting so tired of thinking about it!

Last night I craved so badly to just sit down and write about the haphazard thoughts that have been crossing my mind these past days. Lately I've been plugging away on a story that I just can't seem to get to the end of. It is becoming much longer than I anticipated... and for the life of me, I can't tell if it is any good. It feels flat and lifeless. It makes my face feel like stone when I read it...and yet I laugh and cry as I write it. In those rare moments when I actually feel like I'm in "the zone," I am enjoying myself and the writing immensely. But the second I step back to look at it, for the life of me, I can't see what it is. My brain shuts off; my eyes glaze over. And then V. comes home from work, I cook dinner, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get back into it. I tell myself to write without looking back...but then, two seconds later, I look back.

Yesterday, while staring at the bookcase by my computer, I picked up a book that I don't remember reading--Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life by Abigail Thomas. I had forgotten about it. I bought it for a Creative Nonfiction workshop with Robin Hemley a couple years ago. The workshop was awesome, but I never got to the book. I want to read it now, but I don't' feel like I have the time. I paged through it though and, goddamnit, it feels like I am barking up the wrong tree with the direction my writing has been taking.
Right now it is snowing outside. What was a few fat snowflakes has turned into half a blizzard. I feel like I am sitting in a snow globe of Minneapolis--a wonderfully grungy snow globe.

I prefer this random world. And that's why Thomas's book caught my attention. It is written in short vignettes, "[s]etting aside a straight forward narrative in favor of brief passages of vivid prose, Thomas revisits the pivotal moments and tiny incidents that have shaped her."

These days I feel confined by my own story....the story I'm working on, that is. But I've already invested so much time into it. I feel like, at any moment, it might break open and come undone in all the right ways. And maybe it's that "almost" feeling that I love so much about writing and art. But, as I write this, I find myself beginning to feel I don't have time to deviate, when deviating is exactly what I should be doing.

Aaargh...but that's why I've come here. I'm deviating from the pattern that seems to be forming. I'm stopping long enough to write these thoughts and then move on. And as I write this the sun has somehow decided to show it's face, despite the thick dose of snow that continues to fall.

Wolfie is happily asleep out in the car...and I'm going to get a refill on this cup of coffee. This time I'm going to return to my story with an open heart and an open mind. On a Wednesday afternoon...the possibilities are endless--at least, that is the perspective I have decided to take.
and a random writing thought for the day:
...silence speaks as eloquently as what is revealed.


bee said...

follow your heart, sweetie, if it wants to deviate, let it.

i'm feeling the same way (i think)- i've been struggling writing a post for days now about how i haven't been feeling like "myself". by that i mean, i've been feeling messy and disorganized and scatterbrained and just....BLAH!!!! not that i'm ever "together" - but who is this person i want to get back to, exactly? my life is currently in a bit of derailment and i think i just have to let it be that...

you said something interesting - "your life is becoming too much the story" (i paraphrased). you can't know what the story is going to be - you know? start out knowing where it starts, but don't write it before you have written it.

thank you for the writing thoughts. i have no idea if my comment even makes sense. i love you, tho. ;)

Amber said...

I am trying to get my shit together enough, just to sit down and let the story come out. So you are way ahead of the gam ein my eyes! Just let it go where it goes, maybe, at this point. I don't know.


Laura Bjerk said...

Jessie, thanks for sharing your thoughts about the frustrations of writing. Your love for it mixed with these anxieties is beautiful...And I can relate. EXCEPT that I am not writing. My thesis, that is. I'm proud of you!

Anonymous said...

i feel for you, lovely. i know the feeling of writing and reading until you can't tell if it makes sense anymore or not...i will start my dissertation (if this damn book chapter ever ends) and then we can work together to keep each other on track! xoxo

Kristine said...

I understand.

melba said...

I know! I always have so much in my mind that I want to get out, get it all down!

I love visiting with you.

Although I am glad it has yet to snow more than an inch here, when I read of your love of the snow I appreciate the memory.

Colorsonmymind said...

I have a real fear about writing. Participating in Poetry Thursday and Sunday Scribblings for a while seemed to loosen me up a bit, but then it seemed to freeze up again.

I am so interested in reading about your process. The process a real writer goes through.

I am sure it is very frustrating for you sweetie, but it still seems so cool. To have a story that just seems to keep going-when I get to a place where I can't imagine where it should go.

I am a bit slow on blog reading so I am hoping by now you have broken through a bit.

Much love and lots of snuggles