he should've started earlier.

i finished reading francine prose's blue angel. it's been a while since i've read anything, especially a fictional novel. it was good, though. damn good. it's the story of a man who risks everything for a little tart. a little whore, and a little piece of trash. i can't relate, but that's what good novels do: they make you relate, or at least try to. it's books like blue angel that make me remember why i liked literature and writing in the first place. it's an escape, really. a chance to be someone else for a good three to four-hundred pages. the workshop scenes felt a little far-fetched. but that could be because my experience in them has been so limited.

it's funny how, looking back, i can remember how excited i was at 18, when i received that letter of acceptance, and how i can now compare it to how relieved/anxious i felt when i received that diploma. it's like when the rich bitch found our grandma's obituary among a pile of photographs. "wow," he said. "i can't believe your mom still has this." i didn't pay much attention. i must've muttered, "yeah." "it's funny," he said, "you live your whole life, and then all it comes down to is this." he fluttered the tiny, rectangular piece of faded newspaper. "yeah," i said, "that's that." our collective experience, our life's work, all reduced to size 8 aerial font. or whatever it is the bee uses.

i don't know how francine prose could write a novel. i don't know how anyone can. you really have to believe in your characters, believe in yourself, believe in the made-up world you've created. almost to the point of arrogance and risking an entire detachment from reality. i wouldn't know, really. i've only attempted short stories. i can't imagine trying to have to do a whole novel. and then there's always the chance that nothing will happen to it. either it takes up space on your hard drive, or it'll become an official manuscript, and you'll send it out.

most likely, people won't read it, or they'll read a little, and they'll hate it. you'll hear again and again, "it's not ready yet." there's this whole process where you're supposed to have an agent, supposed to have recent publications, supposed to have your name recognized, and then finally, you find an editor, and it goes back and forth like this for a couple of years, and then, eventually, if you're lucky, the editor will say, it's ready, and it becomes a book. and then it sits on the shelves. you have to put it out there with the vigilance of an impoverished vacuum salesperson. you have to tour with it, try to get it sold by word of mouth, tell all your friends and family to buy it, read it, cherish it, think you're a genius for writing it. do readings in towns you've never heard of or cared to visit, in bookstores populated only by couples in their seventies, critics for shitty local newspapers, english majors, students attending for extra credit. and of course, nobody gets it. nobody ever fucking gets it. what's there to get? after reading a few passages from your four hundred page (in your mind) masterpiece, it's still not doing it any justice. it's a goddamn movie preview. but not even that. out of context, it's more like the stupid fucking fandango commercial with the weird paper sacks and googly eyes.

and then there's always the chance people assume it's autobiographical. and then there's the pressure of doing a follow up, and feeling like a failure when you can't follow it up. very rarely can someone do a follow up. the pressure's gone. you've got it made. your name's out there. people know you. you're kind of a big deal. what's the point?

that's all our lives are, and all they will become: words. yet, no one ever has time to write.


claire said...

I love that book. Did I tell you to read that? All her other novels are excellent as well, especially the one about the skinhead. I forget what it's called. "A (something) Man." Changed? I don't know. I also like Francine Prose's short stories.

talking about hard times. said...

yeah, you told me to read it. recommend some more. all of you. now.

Tiffany said...

Why write when you can just watch Wonderboys over and over again?