Maybe this piece is self-explanatory. Anxiety has hit us like a, um, wave; enough so that I was just thinking, yesterday, trying, as always, not to panic (in this case I was about twenty-five feet up on a ladder stuck, improperly at a bit of a left-of-straight angle that allowed me to, hopefully, paint trim up on a roof- it worked), that maybe being manic-depressive is normal.
NORMAL. Moments of bliss are, yeah, moments; and, while most of life is just kind of a glide, maybe a bit of an uphill grind, there are moments where things would cause just about anyone to… to be rightfully depressed.
MOMENTS, only, hopefully. It’s not that I’ve been more depressed than anxious, but I have been waiting to use some of my manic-ness on some waves. SOON.
I did do a video reading of this piece, tried to send it to Keith Darrock, PT ripper and librarian. I’m scheduled to do a ZOOM thing in August, connected with my novel, “SWAMIS” and I thought this might be a sort of prelude. BUT, e-mailing videos, I’ve discovered, is actually kind of tricky.
I am considering UPGRADING MY WORDPRESS ACCOUNT. This would get rid of pesky ads (for which I receive no compensation), and might allow me to post occasional videos. WE’LL SEE.
Not Out, Just Put Away
In these anxious times, I have heard and read that many are afraid to dream while others have wild, vivid, Corona fever dreams, even without the fever. Last night’s dream was, then, one of those, and I am writing about it before it fades into the early morning drizzle.
Write, because that’s what I do; that’s how I cope. Whatever trauma or drama is going on, I can and mostly do think of it as part of some bigger narrative. If dreams are meant to make some sense out of chaos… writing is dreaming; and I write.
It is, quite obviously, some sort of party. People in nice clothes; some women in dresses, some men in sports coats. It is one of those large rooms with a high ceiling on one side and a loft on the other, view of the water through the two-story bank of windows, sliding doors open to a deck. Weekend cabin, second home along the Canal. I’ve painted many through the years. There is a large countertop toward one end of the great room, food spread out. Party food. Trays- cheeses and crackers, various. Casserole dishes- various. Three bottles of wine with interesting labels- open, glasses adjacent. Sparkling sodas and colas in a cooler to the side; plastic cups on a corner of the counter. Real plates, real silverware.
So, not a potluck, but guests, as is proper, have brought side dishes, bottles of wine with interesting labels.
This dream is all taking place from my point of view (POV), my perspective. Of course. Dreams. I’m on one side of the room, scraping the last of some sort of dip onto my last cracker. Not guacamole. It might be red, though Trish claims men don’t dream in color, and, though I’d prefer her to be wrong; she is almost surely correct. Still, I’m saying red; and there’s enough dip left that I consider either getting more crackers or scooping it up with one side of a finger.
Manners. Leave it.
Trish isn’t here. No, it must be one of those events where I will almost surely do something, say something embarrassing; me with my loud voice and big gestures. She has obviously sent our daughter, Dru, in her place. For some reason, our friend George, who avoids potentially awkward social situations more often (and less apologetically) than Trish, is here, more leaning than sitting on the edge of an overstuffed chair.
I start to say something to Dru about how soon we can leave when two men approach me.
This is the setup part: “I hear you’re a writer,” one of them says. He is quite a distinguished looking fellow, and the statement is made without the condescension my reaction to it might suggest.
“Who would have told you that?”
This is when Dru moves away and I’m faced with two faces, my POV moving between them. There is some sort of writing competition they are both aware of, submission deadline this very evening, and maybe I should consider entering. At the least, they would be interested in hearing about what I write.
Here is the analysis part: I’m writing a novel. Yeah. And? And when I’d written enough to get to an actual ending, I edited it, completely, first line to ‘The End.’ Then, so excited, so sure it was the genius work of a genius; I sent it out to several people to read.
This is when someone crazy enough to consider him or herself a writer gets truly crazy. Out of his or her control, the manuscript must face the world on its own. Waiting. Waiting.
Waiting for someone else’s assessment.
You only get one chance at a first impression. I had overshot, overthought, overdone; and, as I feared, as I probably knew, early feedback made it obvious that I need to seriously edit the work; ruthlessly cut out so many of the peripherals, clarify the changes in time and place, simplify… it became obvious my manuscript might not actually be the genius work of a genius writer.
So, okay; I’m working on it; two-thirds of the way to the end; again. But, doctors, counselors, friends, readers; now that I have eighteen point headings for chapters, fourteen point subheadings; now that I have moved whole blocks of words to where they should be, chronologically; now that I have deleted thirteen thousand or so words out of one hundred and twenty-three thousand; the tension now, the anxiety, in addition to all the other anxieties of real life, is this: Publishing, selling, getting the novel sold, published, out there.
I must have said something abrasive and offensive and off-putting; the distinguished gentlemen are now at the far end of the room, leaning on the wall near the stairway to the loft. George asks a question of the woman who, evidently, owns the house. “I invited you over many times,” she says.
“Okay,” I say, full room voice, “I have songs, and a few poems, and short stories, and a couple of screenplays, and… don’t know where the other one is… two almost complete novels; so, now what?”
They don’t seem to have heard me. Dru walks between me and them. She gives me a look I know to mean I didn’t handle this well, and, additionally, I have just provided another story to share with her mother. Proof.
Time break. I’m looking at the food on the counter. The casserole dishes have lids or are covered in saran wrap, contents of the two-thirds-full dishes visible. “I never got a chance at the real food,” I say.
“They’re not out of food,” Dru says, “It’s just put away.”
The woman who spoke to George appears. She peels back one corner on a dish. Noodles and cheese, the cheese on the top seared perfectly, only a few holes dug into the glaze. There also might be green beans. I’d guess green. The homeowner looks over at the distinguished gentlemen. “Good thing I didn’t say anything,” she says, “my daughter’s a writer and…”
“Oh,” I ask, “What kind of thing does she write?”
Dream’s gone. I spent time I could have used on my manuscript. Still, I have to get ready; get to Costco before the best selection of meat is gone.
Stay safe, stay sane, avoid panicking when you can, stay tuned.