Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Fear, or How Long Until the Monkey Funeral?

Readers.  You should know that usually I am quite brave about things.
She pauses, jack-rabbits up from the desk. First her sweater, then coffee, then another cigarette. She is uncomfortable with monologue. Even here, she must narrate.
Not necessarily about things like Mean People or Strangers or Big Hipster Parties. These things do frighten me, quite correctly, I think. I mean brave about my life. While I certainly don’t live in a commune, my lifestyle, for some, is unconventional. I don’t work in a cubicle. I don’t have a car or use credit cards. I do not have, nor want offspring. These are very deliberate choices I have made, in order to facilitate my Writing.
She pauses again, wondering at the capitalization of that last word. Wonders if it is too pretentious.  Thinks of the Theater/Theatre question. Decides to leave it.
Yes, it is a risk for me, for my family (childless though it may be, it still is one) – for me to only work part time at the divine Providence Athenaeum in the hopes that one day I’ll sell my books and  be a Real Writer. A Professional Novelist. Most days, I am brave about this risk.
But that day is not today.
I have manuscripts out at three highly reputable agents. (I haven’t even been waiting that long which makes this reaction even more ridiculous) As of now, I have only received one “No”, and that was from a long-shot agent – an agent that I couldn’t believe even wanted to see a Partial manuscript in the first place.
 And yet.
 And yet. I have allowed this to spin out into my ultimate failure as a writer, as a person. This no means they will all say no. And I will have to start over again. With another book.
And while the idea of working on another book as an Agented Author thrills me, working on another book as an Un-Agented Author, at least today, makes me feel positively ill. I will get over this feeling, certainly. And certainly if I have no agent at the end of this process I will write another book. They are just feelings, after all.
She doesn’t understand the use of the word “just” in that last sentence. Lights a cigarette. Leaves the sentence intact. Has a flash of Crazy telling her that an Agent might see this post, see the narration about cigarettes, and decide that they don’t want to work with a smoker. The Crazy is pretty loud today.
And what’s worse, I feel terrible for feeling terrible. I’m supposed to be so brave, with my defiance of convention, with my
Here she drops off, stares out the window. In the distance, the buzzing of some yard work. Her view, the parking lot of her two bedroom apartment. The sunlight brightens and swells, and this chafes her, as it does not match her mood. The icy spring snow yesterday did a better job of that.
…with all my “believing in myself” and “Acting Like It” and “Working Hard” and “Being More Awesome”.  But today I wonder when “Believing in Myself” turns into Norma Desmond style Delusion. How long until the Monkey Funeral? How long until the wire cigarette holder and the “comeback” script of Salome?
Trying to find a way out of this maze, I turn to other writers. And I keep thinking of Louisa May Alcott who said, “I shall take fate by the throat and shake a living out of her.”
Or something.   
Something about this post leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Is it unprofessional to complain, to admit fear and weakness? Even if it’s not unprofessional, does this really add to any kind of conversation about writing or reading? Then why doesn’t she just Shut the Hell Up? Do either of these questions matter, as no one is even reading this?
She takes another drag from her cigarette, and a long pull of cold, four-hour-old coffee. She imagines her hands around Fate’s throat. She imagines shaking her, hard. She imagines the tinkle of a few coins spilling from beneath Fate’s coat. She imagines using them to pay for the monkey funeral.

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