Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Whatever, I'm Not Reading Fathers and Sons Again

The other day the UPS man came to our door, and when I opened it he sighed in relief and said "Thank God you have a clean apartment." I said thank you, because I guessed that was a compliment, and he went on to say that some of these people's apartments...and he shook his head. I said with a nervous laugh that I didn't want to know, which was sort of true and sort of not; exactly how messy does an apartment have to be before you say "Thank God" about a clean one? That I'd like to know.

One of the things he was delivering was a string of solar lights. Our little balcony doesn't have any plugs, so it's solar or Jesus if I want illumination out there. I really paid too much for these lights, as the string only has six globes and they're not super-duper-bright, but they're pretty and they make me happy. I also bought a short string of regular AC lights shaped like metal dragonflies, for decoration if not illumination. The internet says that with a visit to Radio Shack I can probably convert them to solar or battery. Still thinking over whether I want to do that and risk fucking them up.

Not the best-framed picture ever, but you can see both strings of lights.

Based on the wise recommendation of a friend I'm reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I started it over the weekend and fully intended not to enjoy it, since I read it when I was a teenager and didn't like it at all. I thought it was opaque and weird and pointless. In the years since, I've learned a lot more about mental illness and have read a wider variety of books, and now I honestly can't put it down. I had no idea Kesey was such a prose stylist. I thought he was just famous for his topic. I feel humbled and stupid.

I hope this doesn't mean I have to give another chance to all the classics I tried and didn't like in those years. I suffered through Madame Bovary during that time and I really don't want to read it again.

On the same trip to the library for Cuckoo's Nest I picked up Dubliners. One of those books I tried as a younger person (I think in college) was A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which I know a lot of writers swear by, but I couldn't get beyond the tenth page. I've been getting this feeling in my belly that I need to read Ulysses, the same kind of feeling I had before I read Infinite Jest, so I thought I'd try Dubliners first to see if the feeling dissipates on contact with actual Joyce. When I got home from the library I held up the book with a fake Colbert-ish openmouthed grin of enthusiasm on my face to Matt. He replied "Are you sure about that? You can always just take it back." Like it was an ugly blouse. Tee hee.

I really want to keep working on the KUFC book. I think it's going well and I'm going to miss my self-imposed deadline for a first draft if I don't get back to a regular schedule with it. But after reading some of that Writing Fiction book and after a couple of other buckets of cold water reminding me that I don't actually know squat about my chosen profession, I'm afraid to sit down to it again. I'm afraid I'll wind up writing another book that just needs to be rewritten from word one.

There are other excuses, too - work and home have needed a lot of attention lately, I'm in the middle of a major South Park overdose, an interesting trip is coming up in November, opera season is beginning. But mostly I'm just afraid. I don't want to turn out an inferior product, I don't know primarily what kind of writer I want to be, and for fuck's sake I don't want to have to rewrite one two THREE books after writing them the first time.

At least I have a clean apartment.

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