Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Friday, June 13, 2003

Failure of the Day: Temporary Cell Death

I sort of got to thinking about this after a thing in Jeff's blog about how much less he's writing now that he's reading Ratner's Star. I don't know if this is what he meant, but it made me think of how sometimes the thing I am reading just totally fills my head with stuff to write about and sometimes a different thing empties it out.

My head is currently in an empty phase; I haven't touched my novel in a full week, and it's driving me crazy. Part of that is because I'm incredibly tired from all the hours of work I'm having to make up for last week's slump. By 8 PM every night this week, I can barely focus on our nightly game of Yahtzee, which is what we've been playing because I'm too tired for Stratego.

But I think it's also because of what I'm reading, which is Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott. I decided to start reading her after a few weeks of reading her columns at Salon.com. I especially liked her commencement address. So I looked up what else she's written, found a novel about her father's brain tumor and went Bingo! Nancyville. Picked it up used at Green Apple last weekend.

I'm about halfway through it now, and it sucks. Aside from the fact that it's only second-hand reactions to the tumor (and I'm really only interested in first-hand experiences), the people having the reactions are all goddamn hippies and other New Age sorts who thought they were being super cool when they eschewed organized religion but then had to rush around like fools trying to find all kinds of substitute mystical gobbledy gook to fill the hole. I sort of knew all this going in, but I like Lamott's writing and thought there'd at least be a couple really cool passages about hospitals and doctors and such, and I could bounce around off those. So far though, I've got poop beyond how scared and sad and fucked up they all are. And the thing that annoys me about that is that everybody already knows that part of the whole "being seriously ill" business. Isn't the point about writing about something like this to add a new perspective? It's like being an astronaut and writing a book about it that says only, "It's hard to be in space because there is no air." Like, duh, OK?

But I'll finish the damn book because I almost never put a book down once I've started it, and it reads fast enough, so what the hell. And I'll be back to nice, easy 8-hour days next week, and hopefully the all the yummy creativity cells in brain will resuscitate themselves.


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