Friday, August 1, 2008

Fear and Other Intangible Obstructions

There is a woman sitting not far from where I am. She's beautiful and reminds me of my mother in the way she shows off her large breasts without it seeming tacky or ridiculous. She wears silver and red in such a way that makes her seem a little like a gypsy. I don't mean that it's overwhelming, it's exotic and natural all at once. She has a pile of brown curly hair on the top of her head. She's local, she knows people who walk in and there is surprise when they meet, but not the surprise of "Oh my goodness what are you doing here." It's "Oh, my goodness what a coincidence." She's local, but she also has an accent. It's almost Irish or Welsh. I've seen her in here before, and I know she's a writer. I know because she can stay in that chair, at that laptop, for a long time. Periodically she looks around as if she's looking for something specific, a person to walk in, a cat to sit on her lap, a book in the air; then she turns back to her work as if the interruption never happened. She makes faces as she types. Just every now and again, and just ever so slightly. Sometimes it is a subtle triumph, sometimes it's as if she saw someone in an ugly dress walk into the room and she feel sorry, sometimes it looks like a silly spelling mistake she can't believe she made.


She usually sits by the window or moves to the window spot. She drinks an iced tea, always pulling the straw to the corner of the mouth. She shakes the ice when it gets low, then stares at her computer, her fingers moving slightly over the touch pad, scrolling through her work, reading and rereading passages.

And I wonder what she is writing. Sometimes I imagine it's a romance novel, but not just straight romance. She's a genra writer. She writes historical fiction romance or romance with vampires. The kind of stuff I look down on. But she has nice sun glasses and a nice computer and a nice cell phone and she's usually here in the middle of the day like I am. So I assume she supports herself on her writing. This also leads me to think romance writer, freelance magazine writer, successful blogger...I guess it could be anything. It's silly of me to make assumptions. I still lean toward romance novels. But maybe my fatal character flaw is my vanity that invents things to look down on because secretly I am jealous. In my tragedy, I spend weeks in this coffee shop with her, toiling over my overly verbose and ridiculous plays, all the while looking down at a fellow writer who finds success and later buys the coffee shop and then gives the old lady at the end of the counter charity coffees and listens to her go on and on about how the business wouldn't know a good play if it smacked it upside the head. She'll laugh and pass another coffee.

I want to ask her so much what she is writing, but I don't want to break the spell and I don't want her to know I'm writing presently about her. She's a character right now. The sum total of my anxieties. Especially now at this time when I feel so very close to the end of my script. The first draft anyway. I feel so close, and I feel like I could have been this close so much sooner. I've wasted time, and what I've written isn't worthy of the time I've spent on it.

Please, please, please say nothing. Don't tell my that you're sure it's fine that I'm a good writer and blah blah blah. I'm not fishing, I'm mumbling on the internet. I'm being over dramatic in a chat room. I'm being honest about what I'm feeling. It's a feeling that will pass. I'll read over what I've written in it's entirety and the work will begin again in earnest and I will feel good about it. I'll know where the fixes should be and what can be done. But for now. For now I'm tired and everything seems like a hard push against a big ancient rock.

Oh, I'm starting to talk in territory that hearkens back to earlier writings about my disbelief in writer's block. But I'll tell you what I think, it's like baseball or some other sport or gambling. If writing happens, then I try to recreate the circumstances that created that writing. They way I sit, where I sit, where the sun is, the time of day, the noises around me.

I like to write with bad tv on. Movies I don't particularly like, but have seen over and over again. Gray's Anatomy is really great. Law and Order is good too. A specific album playing on loop for a specific project is also good. My feet up and the lap top in my lap. A deadline pressure. Late at night. A coffee shop pepped up on caffeine. 3:30 on the dot. Tea next to me. Lemonade next to me. A cat in my lap. I often write when I'm waiting for something else or when I'm avoiding something else. If I need to write, it's amazing how clean I can get the house. If I need to make a phone call to someone I haven't ever spoken to or haven't spoken to in a long time, it's amazing how much writing I can get done. If I'm going out with friends and I told myself I'd get some work done before they came to pick me up, it's good to get ready to go early and sit and write while I wait. It's good if they are running very late too. I used to write poetry on my pad when I was a waitress, sometimes I wonder if I want to write poetry I shouldn't get a job at a greasy spoon.

But then again I can't plan it all too much or it will all go awry. I could end up having watched four disks of Gray's Anatomy and wrote only a half a scene or a bad monologue. I could end up sitting on the bedroom floor with my lap top with my clothes half on and half a play is written in the space of ten minutes. I could stay up until 5:30 in the morning only to find the urgency of the muse at 6:00 when I've given up and started brushing my teeth. I could be in the coffee shop only to find myself wondering the forests of celebrity gossip never to return again.

Oh fickle fickle self. I was hoping on this trip I'd teach myself some discipline, but it occurs to me that I've never heard of anyone teaching themselves to be disciplined because undisciplined people really can't teach themselves anything at all. Which leads me back to wishing for an addiction of some kind, an imposed discipline, that I could do mostly when I write.

Or I should just write and see what happens.

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