My graduate studies in creative writing leaves me no time to write blog updates. Creatively.
Let us not dwell on the absurdity of that statement and instead move on to other unpleasantries. I’m beginning to see why I’m the only person I know who posts their stories on the Internet. It’s because we’re supposed to come to the conclusion that are stories suck at worst, and are never ever finished at best. Still. I continue to think it’s a good idea.
I work-shopped a piece a couple of weeks ago, for the second time, called You Shut Up, Please. (Reviews of the title = mixed. I like it.) Revision is hellish and interesting. Kevin Canty, or KC, as he cryptically addresses himself in his notes to me, tells me that revision is important. He had the audacity to suggest that one should give up the idea that they’re going to write a perfect story the first time around, that you need to learn how to let go and let God when it comes to your brilliant sentences/ideas. If I knew how to let God write my stories I would have “let go” a long time ago, but that’s a point for another time. He said my 23 page story should be cut down by 6 pages. 6 pages! That’s like asking me to gouge out one of my cat’s eyes, because hey, who really needs more than one eye. (It’s probably not really like that.)
I tried, KC. I tried so, so, hard, and it hurt. Well, sort of. Some sentences are easy to part with. Others was like plucking out eyelashes individually with a pair of tweezers. I managed to get 2 1/2 pages out. Do you want to see what I cut?
Why would you want to see what I cut? The whole point is that this shit doesn’t need to be read. Whatever. I declare November 1st opposite day. So here is what’s left on the cutting room floor. My favorite is number 19. ”Incidentally, they played a great set.” Oh, incidentally, eh? Ha. I crack myself up. Number 20 is completely racist out of context, and to be fair, also in context. 37. ”It’s just supposed to be a metaphor.” Oh Molly. It’s show, not tell. I don’t care what your verbose, Holden Caulfield wannabe first person narrator thinks. When you read the entire list, your brain tries to turn it into a story, but this story is rambling, makes no sense, and is apropos to nothing. These are all good arguments for the revision process.
- the big surprise
- She wanted to socialize me, so when she met interesting people doing grown up things, she made a point of dragging me along with her.
- I in turn didn’t know until much later that she wasn’t just a guest at the party, but that she lived there, and was kind of a big deal.
- I let myself become her social works product, which now in retrospect was probably a mistake.
- She flurries around the house, putting everything methodically into place. She puts her mittens in her coat pocket, the coat on the rack, and her many school supplies back in their designated places on the bookshelf. I follow her everywhere. She sets her purse on the chair next to the coffee table, deliberately askew. It’s a labored, practiced casualness.
- She stands behind me and stares at the blank canvas, save a few leading lines that mark the beginning of more nightmares.
- She puts her hand on my shoulder, and it’s more like a father son thing than a gesture between lovers.
- She wants things to either look like the thing, or not at all. It’s true that I can never seem to accomplish either state.
- Twenty minutes later, when my body is attacking me from the inside with hunger, she’s finally ready to go.
10. I note my cynicism, but I’m too tired to correct it.
11. My ass hurts from sitting in the same swivel chair all day.
12. She lives in the world of bad films and TV sitcoms, and since the networks rarely make them anymore, I don’t think she understands that things have changed.
13. My tongue feels dipped in ventilation dust, securely wrapped in gauze bandages then dipped in plaster.
14. He exhales with the force of ten thousand elephants.
15. Birds come, and then they go.
16. I don’t paint real people, but stick figures. The rest is as realistic as Rembrandt.
17. , …the first moment of contact, the fire that burns inside of us when something extraordinary is about to happen.
18. …he robbed it of all its dirty manliness…
19. Incidentally, they played a great set.
20. I’m scared that when I listen to the message he’ll try to offer me a bride price or dowry or whatever it is they do.
21. On any other day I would take great pleasure in prolonging his meek fear of asking for anything directly. If the Christmas spirit of giving hadn’t inexplicably struck me, I’d have let him hem and haw for hours before offering him a ride, just to teach him some kind of lesson.
22. Adam is a terrible giver of directions – he mumbles things about left turns and one-way boulevards – but all I need is the name of the subdivision – “Harvest Springs” – and the name of his street, “Sycamore Grove.”
23. I recognize the house when we pull up – it’s made special by the gigantic red door, which without fail means at least a four-dollar tip. Nothing, not the size of the house, the cars in the parking lot, or the food order itself is more indicative of tip in this town than the homeowner’s willingness to shed extra money on a big ass door. I even remember Adam’s dad – a shorter, nebbish man in dressing socks, cordless phone wedged on his shoulder and a yelping, little white dog at his feet. When was it, two, three years ago?
24. “I don’t understand,” Adam keeps repeating.
25. It never ceases to amaze me how the wealthy always manage a fully stocked bar – every bottle, three quarters full. I wonder if someone like the milkman comes around once a month, topping the bottles off. Maybe successful people don’t drink, but only sip.
26. There’s Crystal, of course. There’s the Johnny Walker Blue, and me, thirty years old and certain I’ve never sipped Alcohol so expensive before. More than anything…
27. I want to cheer him up.
28. Adam takes a sip of his father’s Scotch, the stuff that sells for something like twenty dollars a glass at the kind of bars Anuj and Crystal will soon be frequenting.
29. I grope blindly for some positive spin on the situation, when…
30. Adam interrupts me. I don’t think he hears a word of what I’ve actually said, of what I’m trying to say.
31. I’ve always wanted to be an excellent judge of unconscious tells, the hidden contradiction between our actions and our true intentions, but the truth is, I never have been. I think I’m too self-centered to remember to look closely at people’s faces, to gauge a twitch of an eyebrow or panicked flash in the eyes. But this time, despite extreme drunkenness even…
32. He giggles a little bit, and starts staggering away with uncoordinated exaggeration.
33. …he sort of whispers, except it’s a drunk whisper that sounds more like loud, airy shouting.
34. I see red.
35. …with the same level of clumsiness…
36. - as if he thinks it really warrants being said –
37. It’s just supposed to be a metaphor.