Thursday, November 28, 2013

wish me good work

This afternoon I was at a coffee shop, drinking mocha and writing filler in my notebook. I have this fantasy of filling a notebook a month and rarely hit the mark. I make the excuse that my writing is small or the pages are many or the lines are narrow. When I think I have a chance at filling a notebook in a month, the entries take a slide. I'll write short-lined poetry with loads of stanza breaks. I'll make lists. I'll make fancy thought clusters. I'll do anything but dense prose.

So I was doing that mess when a woman came in carrying grocery bags, a newspaper tucked under her arms. She was only in the shop to throw away her cup and leave the paper. I asked for the paper and she saw my notebook and asked about that and then we had a nice conversation about living abroad and kids and weather. Her daughter's friend is in an undergrad writing program, has always wanted to be a writer. She asked me what I was writing and I said a collection of short fiction.

Then she asked my name. She asked me to spell my last name. She looked up and nodded, maybe filing it away. She wanted to know if I'd publish here in Kuwait. This woman stepped into my afternoon, interrupting a notebook page full of

I can't see as far as I'd like.

and

God, I don't know what I'm doing.

and

A minor panic at the thought of this process.

and

I am in the middle and not ready at all.

and

But I will make it work - God help me.

And this woman stands at my table and asks my last name so she can remember me when she sees that mouthful of a surname on a book. Bless her. Her husband was waiting, she had to go. "I wish your luck," she said, and then, "Not luck. I don't wish luck. I wish you -" she looked at the ceiling and I said, "Work. Wish me good work."

She laughed and wished me good work.

Monday, November 18, 2013

late in the day

Only to tell you I am still writing, fiction and essay, and that both come to me unformed and begging for good endings. I take my own therapy to the page in most essays: let's work out all the residual garbage of college regret, ego and marriage/parenting issues. This means most of my essays read as pathetic and groping as I am re: said issues.

I think there is a reason so many writers just got drunk and scribbled pages half in the bag. And that would be because it hurts to look at the junk in our lives. My life isn't all junk. I just wrote an essay about contentment. But even that dredged up the times and reasons for discontent and I acknowledged the work of contentment. I pray for it.

As for fiction, I found a story set in Kuwait. About time. Kuwait is many things and I wasn't sure how to write about it without me getting in the way. Like Colombia was to me, it's beautiful ugly or ugly beautiful. Slap that on a bumper sticker for anywhere in the world. But writing fiction set in Kuwait is allowing me space to talk about the country I consider home, without getting to sappy or judge-y. Or covering either by calling it fiction.