Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No Write, No Write

I think back to the scene in Bird by Bird, where Anne Lamott finds out her editor doesn't think the book she has invested everything in and depends on for her livelihood will not be published. He tells her he thinks it's competent, it's... capable, but what's it about? Why did you do this? She stages a passionate defense of the book (after some drinking) and in her rant, discovers the book in her heart is not the one that came out of her head. That's how I feel right now.

I am disgusted with myself and the book at this point.  I went from feeling lightheaded with the tipping point a few weeks ago to the stark realization the other day that I am probably on the wrong track with this.  Again.  What's worse is I feel I was on the right track before. 

Day after day I chip away at the book, and I feel, this is it, this is progress; this is the end finally for this story which has hounded me for 10 years.  The book radiates this fatigue, let's say; this near persecution of creative unfulfillment.  What bothers about this draft - in my meek opinon, this very capable draft - is that it radiates nothing about the passion or the even the interest that first informed this story.  The architecture of the book mimics the theme, figuratively and literally; it has become a ghost.  A reanimated corpse.  As a literary exercise, I suppose it's, again, capable.  It contains my best, sparest and sharpest writing.

It doesn't contain any of my soul.


 
The book has none; that's the point.  None of the characters do.  They live in absence of passion; memory; vitality.  They seek these things, and this animates them and the drama, but as the writer I feel it's become this Russian doll of literal emptiness.  All this negativity I feel now and broadcast here may be some sort of existential resistance to this void at the heart of the book, which would not and should not discount the work itself, but I honestly don't believe that's it.

I feel like the book I wrote with my heart I wrote, more or less, a few years ago.  And I didn't trust it.  I have no idea why.  I don't trust myself as a writer.  I think that's obvious - way too many ideas going on, just pick one - and why I will in the end have a closet full of drafts and a shelf of a couple books.  I wrote this draft and it just emptied of everything I created and enjoyed and got off on.  What was left was only the emptiness at the center, the frankenstory obsessed with itself.

I'd put it down, if it didn't so desperately want to live.

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