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Monthly Archives: June 2009

On Laptops and Cats

As I wait for my daughter to come home from school on the penultimate day of fifth grade, my cat Minerva has sprawled herself on my lap and is trying to subtly push my laptop off.  Her tail keeps straying onto the trackpad to make the cursor go bananas.  This seems to me to be a metaphor for life.  Are you going to devote yourself to knowledge and the pursuit of self-expression on the newest medium, the Internet?  Or are you going to shut up with your fingers and pet your cat?

I need novelist’s career counseling or some nice group of other writers in Minneapolis who can sit around with a cup of tea and talk shop.  The very unpleasant thing about being a practicing novelist (that is practicing as apposed to actually published) is that you haven’t anyone with whom you can talk shop.  You can read helpful books about how to become a successful writer, which is nice, but not the same as real human beings encouraging you.

On the other hand I cringe at the idea of “sharing” my first drafts with anyone.  As Hemingway (or somebody of that ilk) said, “First drafts are always crap.”  Maybe it was F.Scott Fitzgerald.  Maybe I should make my pen name F.Scott Fitzmarten.  I am dragging myself around today with the effects of bad living again.  I think I have to give up whiskey and smoking as well as everything else.  Must adopt a proper ape lifestyle, eating fruits and vegetables and nuts and so forth.  I still eat meat and fish and they don’t bother me, but really, I don’t think it is good for one.  Still, I am sure I haven’t the virtue to give up meat.

Anyway, in this melancholy state, under cloudy skies, I really only want to lie down.  However, I have managed to think about my plot.  I have half a first draft and all sorts of threads.  But now I am getting anxious that the threads are not going to pull themselves together for the resolution.  I’m still really in the Middle — the complication stage, where the protagonist encounters problems in her movement towards he goal.

One problem is that I need to define her goal.  Is she going to pursue hidden knowledge and try to understand her world?  Or is she going to pet the cat?  That is such a great metaphor that I have no idea what it means.

Choices.  Moral choices, and choices of action that lead to reaction and new knowledge.  Ladedahdodah.

You know the thing is that it is more fun to work out the neat plot of a novel with a nice resolution, or even a clif-hanger ending that leads to the next book in the series is so much more pleasant than dealing with the absolutely unpredictable business of one’s mundane life.  What is my life?  Non-fiction?  Why are we stuck having to have a non-fiction life?  Where is the fun of that.  I object!

Rollo May wrote a book about finding your own Myth in life and living it.  I rather like that idea.  I’m not sure that I like the myth I am in, however.  The dragon of dispepsia and the hydra of sleep apnea do not seem like very good monsters to have to slay.  And I am not having much luck slaying them.  It is more like, “Well, you have to learn to live with them and just bear up.”  How heroic is that?

No, really, I’m in the dish-washing, laundry, vacuuming, and making bag lunches myth.  Thankfully that does include petting the cat and napping as well, but it is really really super unheroic with knobs on.  What I would like is to be in a Romance.  You know the sort with a happy ending.  But I feel quite too old for that now.  Sweeping damsels off there feet is frowned upon by society once you are yourself a father of a young damsel.  You are just considered a villain then.

On the other hand, being the villain in the myth might be preferable to just being the helpful peasant dish-washer.  Yes, indeed.  But I don’t think I am really villain material.

Why must I live my life in prose?  Why not poetry?  Or better still: song!

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, says Hamlet.  He is so obscure.  But if we are talking about my dreams, I would rather be made of something else.  Aluminium perhaps.  No, silver.  No, cake.  Wait —

Oh, never mind.

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