By the end of the day, I had a fourth rejection for the opera story in my inbox, so y'know, she comes and she goes.
Last Saturday, I read half of The Sound and the Fury, and on Sunday I read the other half. If you haven't read this book and decide to read it, I strongly suggest doing it this way. The small details wove into each other much more satisfyingly when gulped all at once. Just as with As I Lay Dying, I'm not going to pretend I understood it from top to bottom, but there wasn't anything plot-wise in the Wikipedia synopsis that made me go "when did that happen?". And I really liked it. In truth, I loved it a little. The end of the second section had this brilliant idea in it, a nut that was worth building an entire novel around, but Faulkner just slipped it in as part of two characterizations, not as a central philosophical tentpole. (I think.) More of his books are in my future. Just...in a while. When I recover.
BTW, The Sound and the Fury was published in 1929. Faulkner was born in 1897. I bet a lot of writers over the last century have hated him for that.
I also read another book by Lynda Barry, What It Is, which is equally about the creative process and a poke in the back to get creative yourself. It was good, and I'd like to give it as a gift to a number of people I know, but the density of questions in it overwhelmed me. I consumed about half of a book of poetry by Carl Phillips, which gave me a new poem to add to my favorites list ("Cortège"), but which was almost too potent. "Blue" and its subtle repetitions and rhythms won't leave my mind.
And I finished a book of short stories by Elmore Leonard, When the Women Come Out to Dance. I was sorry when it was over and there were no more stories to read. I wrote on Facebook that this was the good stuff, straight to the vein, and I'm sticking with that assessment. The book also gifted me with the insight that Westerns and noirs have a lot more in common than you'd think. The only real difference is the props. Think about it.
As for writing, I did nothing last week. I'm ashamed of it, but there it is. I'm back into feeling blocked by gutlessness, a condition which is usually relieved with a combination of cranberry juice and vodka consumed while sitting in my writing chair with my notebook and putting words on the fucking page. But oh, there's all this work to do! And when the work is done, I'm tired and deserve to rest! And then there's grocery shopping and laundry and cleaning and music and movies! I'll just have to write tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow.
It's not just procrastination, not just busyness (Lord knows I'm really not that busy). It's revision. The idea that whatever I put on the page in love and heat is going to be sacrificed to the great god Revision. It makes me cower and despair.
So, instead, I've started collaging. Once I got the notion that you can make collages with detritus rather than with genuine, preservable art objects, oh, off I flew. Concert tickets and rejection slips and HAVE YOU SEEN ME pictures and completed crossword puzzles, and even a broken cell phone case - all the stuff that testifies to an experience I had but which is really just trash - it all gets glued on a medium-sized piece of posterboard and set away under the TV. I always feel so much better afterward, to a degree that's kind of miraculous. Like when you get that little piece of whatever it is out from between your teeth.
Depressurized art. It's pretty much exactly what I need. I just wish I could bring that breeziness to writing.