Friday, June 4, 2010

Existential crisis

Yesterday, Jared said, I'm having an existential crisis. I said I understood.  He's a musician, so it's a given. He is wondering where the art in the art has gone, performing for audiences who just want to be entertained, but not appreciate the art. It's the conundrum of all artists.
I feel the same existential crisis I did at 32, when I first identified a desire to write. I'm here, all these years later, with a litany of excuses.

The dog barks, (all the time, it seems), the sink is filled with dishes, I need to finish formatting wedding pictures, got a call from a tennis mom needing another photo printed, need to weed the garden, ... and I need to take mom to the hearing aide specialist this morning to see if there's any hope for 101 year old ears. That in itself is a task, getting her into the car, out of the car, into the car, and then out of the car.

In the meantime, I've really have committed to writing a book.  I've said for years I was going to write a book. Ben and others  have encouraged me to write a book. I'm told, "I have everything it takes to write a book."

But then I made the mistake of reading a book about fiction writing. A mistake.
Most writers make about $7,000 a year, he said.  (That would pay part of our mortgage payment each year.)
Those are writers who actually send stuff out there.

My writer friend, Jasara, and I are having weekly "writer's conferences," to encourage one another. She has actually written a novel and is in the first rewrite. I'm not sure why she needs my encouragement. She has the discipline to sit down five hours a day to write.
She's 29, married to another Ben, who works off-shore as a diver on an oil rig, so she has many consecutive days alone in the house with a grown dog, Scarlett, who doesn't bark! And, her mother is healthy and younger than I am and lives 2,000 miles away.
I'm glad for her. She's at a different point in her life.

But she believes, as I do, that we can support each other in achieving this goal.

I wrote five pages a few days ago, my first foray into fiction writing. I've been interviewing people in the Lower Yakima Valley because I'm fascinated with its history, diversity and beauty. It started out to be a non-fiction book (which remains a possibility), because that is a comfortable genre. But then I got overwhelmed with the number of stories to tell. I met Yosh Uchida, a Japanese man, who suggested I write a fiction piece instead. (He wants me to write his book and has a title already. We need to talk.)

I decided to try it out. I developed a character, adapted from the life of just one of the women I have been introduced to in my interviews. I'm not sure where I will go with the five pages, which could turn into an epic if I can figure out how to do it.

For the moment, Taz is no longer barking because I let her out the door and I think she ran away.
My sweet needy mom will someday be gone and then I'll write about her.
The dirty dishes are clean because I washed them before sitting down.
The laundry is done, the photos are ordered

Still need to get mom to the doctor. But then, what the hell is my excuse?

Not an existential crisis!


JoyRainbow said...

I think 70% (at least) of the battle in getting published is with ourselves. The inside voices telling us we cannot do it, aren't good enough, it would never work, we have nothing interesting to say, cannot possibly make a living at it, don't have the discipline etc. so often invade our brain and fingers and keep them frozen, holding the stories inside us captive. If you can battle against them and get something written on any day you are well on your way. Doesn't mean you will everyday, and that's ok, Martha, you just pick up your weapons and fight again the next day after some soup and a good nights rest.
Also, if you never get a book written it doesn't mean you have failed as a writer... it would just be SO COOL! Your success is not defined by what you achieve, but by the small battles you win in a day... or just by fighting an honest fight every day... which sometimes means you simply got out of bed!
Love you so much my neybor and editor :)

martha said...

Joy. You are a delight. Thank you for this!!