I’m surprised to be doing this. But I’ve been surprising myself a lot lately, in ways which delight and in others which scarily liquefy the universe, as if the part of me who goes to the bank, goes to work, goes to the gym, writes, is perhaps only a teaspoon’s worth, whereas the self entire is a bathtub, full to the lip, with the shower on. A constant little level leveling off.
If I was given the miracle of becoming a stranger in the company of my own brain (a necessity and impossibility for all of us), I would wonder why I, a writer, have a category on my own site dedicated to “announcements” that excludes mention of my only published writing as of yet, a book review for the online component of the Victoria-based Monday Magazine.
And because I am a writer, the reasons are prehistorically boring. One of which is likewise responsible for the fact I’ve only ever submitted anything for publication once. I, like many of you, am self critical to the point of injury, and I can see like it’s projected in neon on every wall I pass why this kind of behaviour can lead to death. Which is to say, the death of the teaspoon.
But metaphors are also liquid, and I’m happy to remove this teaspoon business from the equation. Sometimes, it helps to think literally, unimaginatively, and to not coat every Thing in so much thought as to double the mass of Thing. This is how one’s obsession becomes an obsession with itself without one’s realizing it.
I ran this blog for two years (fall 2012 – fall 2014) before I caged it, stripped it of all its fur, and let it fend on its own by snaring, I presume, infrequent and/or curious fly and beetle traffic—for six months.
When I’d read through and over the total output of my blog in those two years, I found it unsatisfactory, found obvious and (to me) embarrassing shortcomings technically and otherwise (the poetic flourishes in reviews, articles, et cetera, where none were required or often even appropriate), and decided to delete everything and go dark with it until I could decide if I should just quietly make progress in the only mediums of writing I was confident in and ambitious with (fiction and to a lesser extent poetry). I still read and reread my own work, though I wish I didn’t, because apparently it’s cancerous to our kind, but some part of me seems to be convinced it has practical application to new work.
Anyway, unless time is a flat circle, you and I are writing or reading respectively on this website in 2015 and beyond. And it’s owed to my letting a rock be a rock, my letting my writing in a blog post not be held to every standard I can imagine inside and out of one. ‘2014 and Prior Self’ would, you mind, have heard no such talk, and would still be writing nothing, drinking everything, his behaviours and words toward even his closest friends still unrecognizable to him, as if the universe were endlessly filling and draining, but always downward, and he always the measure of a single teaspoon distributed and alive whoknowswhere within it. (So much for “a rock for a rock”.)
I still write almost nothing (most of what I’ve published since relaunching this site has been old work, just edited or revised), I still drink, though not as much or often (okay, sometimes as much), and I still don’t particularly like ‘2014 and Prior Self’s review of Nine Inches, though I still stand firmly behind the reviewer’s right to continue to keep the review at arm’s length for now or ever, and the opinions expressed, even if not the technical execution of them. The reviewer after all did use the word “that” (leukemic), the phrases “sort of” and “kind of” (pancreatic and endometrial), and “feel” (terminal whatever the type)—
Speaking of, I was listening last night to this month’s New Yorker Fiction podcast with Michael Cunningham’s narration of Harold Brodkey right before bed. It got me going, and I think a stranger may have taken over my body, released me from bed as if from a glass coffin I’d so long been trapped in (yes, comparing self with Sleeping Beauty), and wrote the opening sentence to a story that will never be written further…
What do you mean, “what“?
Understand. This is cause for hope. Before yesterday I hadn’t written even a single sentence of fiction in six months. Months which were precisely the open door alcohol merrily entered through. Now alcohol has to knock, at least. And the lantern above the door is low. And there are many, many moths batting around there and it is trying, you mind, to stand there long.
There is no spoon, is what I’m here to say, I think, kind of. And ‘2014 and Prior’ needs this to end at some point, as it doesn’t fit his utopic standards of self-scrupule, perfection, and nothingness. Regrets need to be created whether they’re kept or not, the both of us know it. Who measures bathwater in spoons anyway? Not I.
I say it for all of time to witness.