Beautiful destruction; aka, Life - In medias res
I’m rewriting two books just now. One came with a one-page edit letter, and the other came with a fifty-four page edit letter. (Oddly, it’s the latter that’s in far better shape.) So I’m spending the next many weeks on what I consider that heavy-lifting of writing, not getting the story down, but reworking what’s already there. Of course, being contrary, this makes me long to write fresh words again, though doing that makes me long for the security of a finished draft. But none of that’s important. I want to talk about this:
This man blows up flowers. See?
Because flowers are bastards, I guess. But the process is cool – he freezes them with liquid nitrogen and then shoots them with an airgun.
(Even more amazing is the process you have to go through to actually purchase one of these images, because I’ve tried to access prices for a few pieces and I can’t. So if anyone can tell me how to purchase fine art, please tell me. It may be that you have to purchase the original and there are no prints in which case these images will live on my Pinterest page with all the other things that make me feel bad about my imperfect life.)
Where was I?
Oh yeah. Blowing up bastard flowers.
That was just a beautiful and violent teaser to ease you into this blog. I’ve debated whether to say anything about this next subject at all because there are already so many voices out there on the Internet. Lots to look at, debate, infuriate, inspire. Not really my thing as I try not to get emotionally involved in things that can be emptied out in a tweet. I mean, here’s my daily feed in a nutshell:
Writing is rewriting.
Franzen’s a blowhard.
You’re not gonna put that indie publishing genie back in the bottle.
There. I mean, how much more is there to say unless you want to start splitting hairs? (How big of a blowhard is Franzen? Huge. There. Next.)
Seriously, I write for the connection. The reader and me. A meeting of the minds. So while the flowers above make me pause in amazement, and tweets and status updates serve as distraction, sometimes there’s someone or something that touches me at the level where I recognize them as me. That’s what you respond to when you read too, right? So when I saw this post about depression by one of my favorite writers – who has had more success with her sole book than I have with all of mine, my first thought was, She has no reason to be depressed. Though of course if you know anything about depression you know that’s not how it works. Depression has its own reasons and none of them are about making sense.
Then I saw this post by a young woman simply overwhelmed by life and I thought, But you haven’t even made any proper mistakes yet. What do you have to be depressed about? Again, not the point.
And then I thought, Gee. I bet people think that about me.
Because what people can’t read between the lines of my books is that my hair falls out in clumps because of stress. This has been going on for about three years and the only surprise now is that there’s any hair left on my head at all. You also may not know that I suffer from insomnia, and am awake at 3 a.m. more days of the week than not. Or that a neat, new addition to my not-infrequent panic attacks includes the tightening up of my throat so that I literally have to gasp for breath, and it still doesn’t release. For days.
I obviously need to work on my coping mechanisms.
You also have no idea that I was thinking about jumping out of a plane about two months ago. Not, like, skydiving, but as I was sitting on a commercial flight. Without a parachute. Or how I thought that stepping out in front of a moving car, while stupid, would at least be conclusive. Because sometimes, in the midst of ambiguity, you simply want relief. (OMG, my mother is so going to be calling me after this post.)
So reading these other posts, feeling and thinking these things, I realized, holy shit, there are a lot of people out there who are really hard on themselves. Who are so involved in the minutiae of their lives that they can’t see the big picture. And I’m one of them. And I think it helps to know that you’re not alone. I mean, you’re not even special in your aloneness. Everyone wants to jump out of a plane at some point. Unless, prolly, blowhards like Franzen. (Okay. I’ll stop with the Franzen references. He’s boring me anyway.)
But go back and look at the comments in the Jenny Lawson post. I could have written any and all of them. And that actually helps, yanno? Because when you’re stuck in your head and you’re thinking, ‘I-hate-my-job, I-hate-my-life, I-hate-I-hate-I-hate…’ at the very least you should know you’re not alone.
You’re not alone.
And please don’t worry for me, because I’m not alone either. I have a great family, bosom friends, the knowledge that This Too Shall Pass, and a wonderfully supportive, understanding, loving (and shit-hot) husband, and I am at heart an optimist. Also, when I step back and allow myself perspective – when I finally do catch a breath – I realize that life is great. My life is great. I just need to be better at looking back and acknowledging mistakes, then let them go. At looking forward, acknowledging fear, and diving in anyway. At being as kind with myself as I am with everyone else I love.
And at realizing that – like those exploding flowers – life doesn’t have to be perfect to be both worth it and utterly goddamned gorgeous.
Because these bats make me think of Bob Fosse, and nobody wants to jump out of a plane – even while rewriting – while thinking of Fosse.