I had a very hard week last week in my family life — mid-40s fertility has highs and also lows, and let us leave it at that — and I was not taking it well. I tried to write about it but I couldn’t. Not from any objection to over-sharing with the relative strangers who follow me (I read Ellison in my youth, and then Genet; I can over-share in my sleep) nor from any special reverence for the sacred bummer of all things involved with making new life.
I am simply foundering on the effort to be self-centered.
I have a limited tolerance for repeating myself, and once I live something I need a reason to talk about it. Mark Helprin says that all first novels are autobiographical, but if he is not just plain wrong, maybe he is speaking of writers who were not such late bloomers as I. I will always use bits of my life, and the world I inhabit, in my fiction — but honestly I could give a fuck about “the truth of myself” (if there is such a thing) when I play with letters. Oscar Wilde’s fisherman was right to let loose his soul to roam freely. Autobiography is the last shackle that holds writing from greatness. (For more, see Norman Mailer and most rappers; and watch the beauty of Philip K Dick as he turns my flat declaration into a cat’s cradle. But I digress.)
For what it’s worth, I like not being myself. I need a new story the way an actor needs a new role. This weekend I feel revived by a bizarre dream inspired by rollerblading and Chambers’ The King in Yellow, something to do with inconstant love and spiders and a murderous cult. And rollerblades. Sort of Sarah Pekkanen meets China Mieville, if such a thing is even possible. It might not be. But it will be fun to try, and the prospect makes me feel so much better.
A short while ago the young yet estimable blogger Bottled Worder posted about blogging as a way to learn to write. I agree with Bottled Worder about the worth of the effort — it’s been very good for me to devote some time recently to this blog — but I don’t want to write about me. I need to get back to fiction.
I of course have a novel to market, and a blog to maintain to find my audience. It will be interesting to see how I juggle all that. But don’t expect blogs explaining how I do it. It will get done, or it won’t. A house of cards is a marvel of persistence, not architecture.