Saturday, March 17, 2018

short story

I have these short stories, you see, and I can't get them out of my head. I'll be in the car or the kitchen or the shower and a little tweak pops into my head. It could be a better character name or a new title or scraping a scene or adding a new one. But always, I am tinkering with the stories I've already written. Always, I am fiddling on them, trying to craft them into exactly what I'm trying to say in the most compelling way possible.

The writing life is all-consuming.

No matter where I am, mostly, I am in my head.
Shuffling things around, reordering, changing commas to semi-colons; semi-colons to commas.

I have been thinking about the real world and how to best exist in it while I've got my head rattling, full of ideas to write about.
I am coming up blank.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Seeing Lorrie Moore in a Crowded Room

It was March 9th, 2018 when I was first in the presence of Lorrie Moore.

Setting: Tampa, Florida. AWP Conference.

Mood: Giddy.

Me and my best friend, Jen, a fellow Lorrie Moore Obsessive, went into the conference room early, before the last panel had even left. Once people started filing out, we pounced on the best seats.

For background: Jen and I have made up scenarios where we drive to Wisconsin where Lorrie Moore lived and have lunch with her under the guise of an interview. We have had a writing group where we made up Tom Swifties in admiration of Lorrie Moore's. We have texted each other underlined sentences many times, traded books with each other. We're fucking obsessed.

So Tampa. Conference room.

When Lorrie Moore took the stage, I nudged Jen and she nodded excitedly.
And then, L.M. herself read for a few minutes, an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir.

It was about when she got married in the courthouse and a news crew was there, hoping to film a newlywed couple who married for welfare benefits.
"But we're not on welfare," Lorrie Moore protested.
"C'mon," her new husband said, "it'll be funny."
"No," she answered.
"The bride said no," the judge said, and that is how my marriage began, Lorrie Moore finished.

When the interviewer asked her if her ex-husband would be mad that she wrote about this, without asking his permission, Lorrie Moore replied, "it'll be fine. I'm quite sure."

Lorrie Moore was, as expected, funny and calm.

About writing, there is always an excuse not to do it. You have kids that you're raising, your job keeps you too busy, you're tired, insert a million and seven other reasons here.
But as Lorrie Moore said, "Life keeps changing and you have to work around it. You're a prisoner to the stuff in your life. You're just making it up as you go along."

I have five days to put together the third MFA packet of this semester, my second to last one ever. If I think about that for more than a second, I get overwhelmed. But I'll just make it up as I go along.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

our pursuit

I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books , music, love for one's neighbor - such is my idea of happiness. And then, on top of all that, you for a mate, and children, perhaps - what more can the heart of a man desire?
 ~Leo Tolstoy, "Family Happiness" 

"Happy," for instance, once meant "luck." Not good luck or bad, just luck. Look what we have done to ourselves. We think we can actually pursue happiness. 
~Abigail Thomas,  "What Comes Next and How to Like It"

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 
~Thomas Jefferson, "The Declaration of Independence"

I never knew the origin of happiness. 
I never knew that it meant luck. 
Although Thomas' quote can be interpreted as bleak, 
I instead read it with hope. 
Like we are lucky, if we are happy. 
Perhaps it is fulfillment that we are pursuing. 
Tolstoy realizes how he can be fulfilled: by being useful. 
I love that. 
Every day now, I will think of how I can be useful. 
In being useful, I will find fulfillment. 
And if I'm lucky, in fulfillment, happiness.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

not snowed in, not at all

I am watching it snow, thinking of Florida.

Where tomorrow, I become a part of the greater writing community. Greater than this intimate writing group I host. Greater than this local MFA program I am a part of.

I am going to AWP, which is an annual conference where writers and editors and publishers convene and discuss books and how to create them.

On my thirty-fifth birthday, I will be surrounded by the kind of people who get me best, the kind of people who I understand most. Me and my tribe. My giant tribe of us who live in the bigger world and try to make sense of it with words.

I'm putting away my snow boots, packing shorts instead. It took a long time to get here, but at the end of all that, I found I am not alone.