In Which I Navelgaze Whilst Medicated

My snots are not as cute as these.

It’s awfully hard to write with a head cold. I did write my MFA exit exam with a fever of 102, so it’s not like I absolutely can’t write when ill– I’m just saying, it’s uncomfortable. I’ve been sick for going on three weeks, and it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with grading and classwork, much less the harder thinking required to do my own writing. So, that’s where I’ve been.

Now that I’m on antibiotics, my brain is starting to churn again. I’m slightly pissed off. For one, there’s a new book out– and it is very close to something I started about a year and a half ago! If only I had finished it, instead of diddling around! Oh, well. You can’t cry over spilled milk. Well, you can, but you just look silly doing it. When it goes into paperback, I’ll pick up a copy of Angelology and see how similar it really is. Maybe mine will still be original enough to forge ahead? I hope so, as I’d just started rereading it and pondering picking it up again!

While I was rereading and making notes, trying to pick up the threads I’d left dangling, I began to wonder why I write. No, that’s too broad. See, one of the main characters is a monster sometimes. Most of the time, she’s a normal person, kind of boring, wanting all the things people want to do and have. But she also has a side career as a Norn– not an Angel, so maybe there’s hope for me yet? It’s her job to even things out, and it gets gruesome. But it’s something she has to do, because it’s just what she is. She has to keep What-she-is separate from Who-she-is, which is difficult. Are you necessarily evil if you’re a monster? Nature vs. Nurture, that kind of thing. I’ve also tossed in Order vs. Chaos– which one will win out? Is one even better than the other?

Side note: I think that’s what Lost is all about– Order vs. Chaos. I think they’ll both be good and both evil. I think J.J. Abrams probably took Intro to Shakespeare in college. Anyway.

So, as I said, I was rereading, trying to see where I’d put these threads, and which ones needed threading in, and which ones should be yanked out, etc., and then I began to wonder– how much of myself is in this monster character? I mean, sometimes I do see myself as half-monster. I didn’t see it while I was writing it, but upon the rereading– it was as clear as day. At the time, I thought I was creating someone new, but really I was creating another version of myself. How tiresome! I’m completely boring. I was hoping to escape into someone else for a while, with this character, and imagine what it would be like to be her.

Eventually, I had to wonder, when I write, if I am hoping to be someone else for a while– is that even possible? I don’t really think it is. If everything is coming out of your own head, then who else could it possibly be but some facet of yourself? I don’t mean for this to be limitative, though. It’s quite the opposite.

The very thing I get frustrated with, my own personal limitations, are ephemeral. Just as ephemeral as the fictions I create. If my characters are fictional (and from within) then I think that my limitations, as a writer or just as a person, must also be somewhat fictional. Made up by me. My limitations (and my characters) are some facet of myself that I have chosen to inhabit, or that I am comfortable inhabiting.

This half-monster thing might be too close to home. I need to find a character even further away from myself, if that is possible. Is it? I feel like I’m trying to take a vacation in my bathtub.


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