the mess, the shame

I have this issue. Now, my colleague here is not a fan of meta-navel-gazing-self-absorbed wank about writing and process and fuck knows what else. Fair enough, I suppose. Certainly my milling things over in my head for weeks and months and days on end as opposed to, you know, hammering something out and letting it be good enough. It’s a blog, not Das Capital.(1)


(1) You know that bit of Marx where he described primitive communism as the capacity to live life as one wishes, fishing in the morning, writing of an afternoon? If that were really true, I would have quite genuinely starved to death by now. The other day I had to bribe myself to go down the hall for something with the promise of ice cream at the other end. I would try to fish for ten minutes and then collapse weakly on the riverbank and probably allow myself to get rained on. What I mean to say is that I am phenomenally lazy and yet some kind of OCD-perfectionist. This means that Bernard Black would feel right at home in my beyond-messy house.

anaïs nin

“Do you know what I would answer to someone who asked me for a description of myself, in a hurry? This:

?? !!

For indeed my life is a perpetual question mark–my thirst for books, my observations of people, all tend to satisfy a great, overwhelming desire to know, to understand, to find an answer to a million questions. And gradually the answers are revealed, many things are explained, and above all, many things are given names and described, and my restlessness is subdued. Then I become and exclamatory person, clapping my hands to the immense surprises the world holds for me, and falling from one ecstasy into another. I have the habit of peeping and prying and listening and seeking–passionate curiosity and expectation. But I have also the habit of being surprised, the habit of being filled with wonder and satisfaction each time I stumble on some wondrous thing. The first habit could make me a philosopher or a cynic or perhaps a humorist. But the other habit destroys all the delicate foundations, and I find each day that I am still…only a Woman!”

e.b. white

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”

noël coward

“My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own. I do not intend to let myself down more than I can possibly help, and I find that the fewer illusions I have about myself or the world around me, the better company I am for myself.”

nabokov's advice to a young writer

1. If possible, be Russian. And live in another country. Play chess. Be an active trader between languages. Carry precious metals from one to the other. Remind us of Stravinsky. Know the names of plants and flying creatures. Hunt gauzy wings with snares of gauze. Make science pay tribute. Have a butterfly known by your name.

2. Do not be awed by giant predecessors. Be ill-tempered with their renown. Point out flaws. Frighten interviewers from Time. Appear in Playboy. Sell to the movies.

3. Use unlikely materials. Who would choose Pnin as hero, but how did we live before Pnin?

4. Delight in perversity. Put a noun into the dictionary. Now we recognize the Lolita at every corner, see her sucking sweetened milk through straws at every soda fountain, dream her through all our fantasies.

5. Burn pedants in pale fire. Accept no fashions. Be your own fashion. Do not rely on earlier triumphs. Be new at each appearance.

6. Age indomitably, in the European manner. Do not finish your labours young. Be a planet, not a meteor. Honor the working day. Sit at your desk.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 – 1977)

ivan turgenev

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

my november

Friends, I am giving myself over to NaNoWriMo for the month of November. It may come to naught, but between that and writing comedy sketches, which, I hasten to add, are like academic-level hard, my frequency of posting will be intermittent at best for the next month or so. If I do it will very likely be whining about process or something like that. It promises to be quite dull.

I have not forgotten you, internet. I will be engaged in a war with some words, of which I am simultaneously the mistress and the bitch. A girl’s gotta be versatile in this day and age.