Friday, December 9, 2011

December is the Cruelest Month

Oh, but, how can it be? December.

What happened last month? That crippling ambition didn't give way. I found myself writing 10,000 words of one novel, then starting another one because it just wasn't right. I tried to rewrite the same story a different way. I gave up on a novel altogether and wrote scattered short stories. I lost track of the pages in my notebook and lost the energy to finish any of it. It felt like the wrong goal. When I went to the write ins everyone seemed to be having so much fun discussing their stories and characters as if they were toys but for me nothing I wrote was good enough. And I didn't want to write it if wasn't. On the forum I said that I lost my "literary poetic sensibility" and for most of November I didn't find it.

But, well. I'm happy I did write consistently, every day, for a while. I'm happy to have learned what didn't work and to discover what will.

Yesterday I read Joan Didion's Blue Nights, all of it in one day, in the student lounge before lecture then during the lecture and then any time I got to wait on the subway. It was beautiful and sad and heartbreaking and honest. Maybe most of all it didn't seem like Joan Didion was trying to be anything, write a certain way. Because how could you, with something like the death of a child? I can't imagine what that feels like. And yet, I felt like there were parts of it that I understood, those endless hospitals, those small, distinct details that nag and cling to persistent memories.

It helped. I realized that my novel doesn't have to be a chronological narrative, not dramatized and carefully plotted but simply a story, told. 

What else. I graduated, a few days ago. At least the ceremony. The bright purple cap and gown and a walk across the stage and sitting through speeches that were anything but inspiring, optimistic. I guess it's hard to write a original graduation speech. But still, when the moral seemed to be that our liberal arts education from New York University merely translated to a self occupation that will ultimately allow us to find a career in this difficult economic time, it felt bleak. It was only for show, anyway. My classes continue one last week. And these last few days I'm finding it especially difficult to concentrate. Finding it hard to do much of anything. (Though at night my dreams, as usual, soar, startlingly lucid, and before that, when I'm trying to sleep my mind spins, a ferris wheel of ideas and preoccupations.)

Yet I'm far from discouraged. Maybe momentarily paralyzed, but certain of a complete recovery. Call it blind optimism, call it what you will. I am eager to finish the last of school work, this semester, and of course, the new year.