One of my ex-boyfriends told me that I'd be a great mother to a retarded child by way of a compliment. You're patient, you never stop trying to get things to work, he said. In the exact case, it was a crappy dishwasher, but I also sent his poems out for years. Most of them were accepted to small journals quickly, but one remained at large. It was a favorite of his, and I think nearly editor in the continental United States saw it. It finally got published in a journal that had illustrated it with a picture of an evil mangy-looking dog. Not the New Yorker, but it was something, right? What can I say? I'm Broadway Danny Rose! Anyway, the compliment did not make my heart race, but like many casual observations, it is true. Some people call this trait a revolutionary patience, some pounding your head against a wall, and others refer to it as this is fucking stupid, Michelle, give it up. But I can't. Once I set upon a path, I can't stop. This has served me well in my writing life, during the long deserts of little encouragement and adulation. All along the way, there are plenty of people telling me to give it up and do something easier and while I'm at it, a little more lucrative as well. Nobody in your life needs you to be a writer, and in fact most of them need you to be something else. But I hold the position that you should try to be around people who support you. It's one of the things I tell my students -- if people around you aren't encouraging of your writing (this does not mean they have to like everything you write, only that they like your writing in general), find new people. The world of endless rejection that the best writers face is hard enough.
My friend Hank used to say that if you do what you love, what you're passionate about, talent will follow. He taught himself the blues this way. He went from not having an iota of skill to being able to play Stevie Ray with the best of them. I've always felt best when I'm writing -- as Gloria Steinem once said, Writing is one of the only times when I feel that I shouldn't be doing something else. And when I can only sit and stare at the computer screen or piece of paper or I can't figure out what's working in a story, I don't know what to do except pray to the good Lord that something will come. It always does. I usually have to go to a dark place that I resist. It's a strange business, putting yourself on the page. Sometimes you don't like what you see. It stings. But like with everything else, that's how you know it's working.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You can ask the people around me. I don't give up... and it's not out of frustration and desperation that I say I don't give up. I don't give up because I don't give up. I don't believe in it. " Johnny Cash
Drinking movie suggestion: The Departed
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday, dear readers! I hope March is treating you well.
23 days until The Sopranos airs!