Friday, May 28, 2010

Those Who Know You

Have you ever reflected upon how many people truly know you? Or perhaps the opposite--how many people should truly know you, but don't. Like family, for example. Or roommates.

For those people who do not truly know you--why is that? It it because of you, or them--or because you tell yourself you're doing it for them, which quite possibly means you're really doing it for your own reasons?

Perhaps you're gay. Or a closet conservative. Or a closet liberal. Or a member of a non-traditional religious organization. Or film porn for a living. Whatever.

Maybe you think these people just don't really care to know the "authentic" you. Or maybe you're scared to admit who you are. For any number of reasons.

Just something I was reflecting on...thoughts and comments welcomed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Potential Improvement in My Writing (or, My Life Is Like a Piece of Carrot Cake)

A week ago, I came up with an idea for a poem that I really liked. It also happened to fit in with the theme of "last" which is a convenient coincidence, timing-wise, for a submission to the Last Man Anthology.

So I started writing it that day. And I liked my first draft quite a bit. Actually, I liked the idea I had come up with, and the world in which this idea plays out. It needs some work. I told myself. Usually things do. How often do writers get something "right" on the first draft? Not very often. I have occasionally--very occasionally--done so with poems. (Case in point--the poem that was accepted by Strong Verse--I'm still waiting to hear on when it will be featured on their site. It's titled "This Is Why I Hurt You" in case you are interested.)

Last weekend, I pulled up the work-in-progress on my computer. No, not right. I fiddled with it. I know that one of the first things I have do with my writing when I look back at the first spewing is correct the redundant words. So I did that. Made a few alterations. Saved it.

I worked on it again several times this week. Everytime I worked on it, it got better. I found an inconsistency with the logic, and fixed it. I made the wording tighter. I tweaked the imagery a bit. Still not there. I saved it and closed the file. I bitched a bit on my Twitter feed.

I re-opened it today, on the much lauded Day Off From Paid Job So That I Can Write.* I dug in. Again, I had the feeling of I really like this, but... I took a break from it and checked Facebook, my email, etc. I was at the writing office--the coffee shop--with my husband who was working out-of-office.

He babbled something about health information interfaces. That may sound weird, but he wasn't sweet-talking me or anything--this is what he does for work. (If he were sweet-talking me, it would involve seeing a scifi flick, dinner out, or chocolate.) "Yea," I said he when he was done complaining about a server or an applet or something, "I have something for you to read if you need a break from that." He looked at me warily.

"How about you look at the desserts with me?" he asked. Okay, but I wasn't going to be distracted for long.

(I should add at this point that husband is not overly fond of everything I write. He likes things pretty concise and I'm not always that concise. I tend to write like I speak. Also, he really does not care that much for poetry, and I write A LOT of poetry.)

We returned to our table with a piece of carrot cake the size of our son's head.

Really, this was a LARGE piece of carrot cake. It attracted attention. It caused a general discussion among us and every other patron in the shop--"Please tell me that's awful once you taste it!" and "Wow, it's a good thing there's two of you!" "I'm sure it will be terrible," I promised the ladies in back of us as we sat down. We both took a bite, and chewed thoughtfully for a moment. Not to be waylaid, I pulled the poem up on my computer screen and positioned it toward him. He took another few bites of cake (for strength?) and began to read. I tactfully stepped outside to make a phone call.

When I returned from my call, he had finished reading and was back to staring at his laptop screen. "It wasn't...'right', was it?" I asked, not knowing how else to verbalize what I was feeling. He gave me a don't throw carrot cake look. "No, it's not," he said. It's . . .

But then it hit me. This wasn't a poem--the idea is too big. It's a story. "It's a story." I blurted out. "I'm trying to do too much. . .I have this idea, but the idea is really bigger than a poem." I swear, he looked relieved.

"I agree," he said. "You've created this whole world with all this detail, and it just can't all fit in here."

"You're right." I responded, somewhat sadly. I sat down. I eyed the carrot cake, which had seemed like just the thing at the time, but I no longer wanted any--once I'd dug into it, it also had chunks of fruit. I couldn't abide that--it was a sensory nightmare, despite the awesome cream cheese frosting. "I write poetry, because that's what I have time for. It so hard to keep up the momentum to write anything longer. But we're right--it's a short story, or maybe a piece of flash fiction."

And that's my life. A big, juicy piece of carrot cake, falling off the edges of the dessert plate, filled with walnuts and currants and golden raisins. It's too full. I so desperately want more time to write--and to improve my writing. I love to write--I love the way that words are tools, and you can mix and match and combine them to create moods, new mental pictures. . . or transform existing ones in creative or unique ways. BUT our reality is that we need me to have an income. And if I don't have an income, we need to move.

I want my carrot cake, but it doesn't need currants in it. It doesn't need raisins. It needs cream cheese frosting, some cinnamon, and carrots. And I'd share it with my husband and family, no matter what the size.

So I'll take that poem, turn it into the story it needs to be. And hopefully, get it done soon so that I can submit it. And hopefully, not make myself crazy as strive to do "everything."

* The much lauded DOFPJSTICW usually entails running errands for the kids, laundry, picking up house, and doing work for paid job. At least I'm usually at the coffee shop doing it, though.