Monday, June 18, 2007

All The Things I'll Miss About Myself

I once knew a writer in one of the few writing groups I ever was a part of whose first drafts were all touched by God and needed no editing. Scarily brilliant, eerie, and perfect. This state of affairs seemed extremely unfair except that she had other problems that included but were not limited to a child she didn't like all that much, a third husband who hadn't turned out any better than the first two, and a deep aversion to regular hair washing. She spoke the truth all the time, whether it was a good idea or not, and once said about forgetting workshop, I got busy shovelling dog shit. What the fuck do you want from me? I can still see her, hand on hip, t-shirt that said Jenny Craig Is A Bitch. She had never had a weight problem so this seemed an odd choice for her venom, but there you have it. I couldn't help but like her, try as I might not to, try as she might to make me not. She made me laugh even when she made me cringe, having that peculiar instinct for the faultlines of people's egos and going for them with a vengeance. I knew I had made significant progress as a writer when she said, I was dreading reading your story and thought boring, fucking boring and then I was shocked as shit that it wasn't. It didn't seem like you at all. It was so good. Coming from her, it felt as if I'd won the Pulitzer.
When people ask me if writer's groups are a good idea, I come back to this experience which was a doozy. We'd often meet at her house as she was afraid to leave it and watch the roaches scurry on the floor. They were so bad that we'd have to appoint someone to keep watch over the snacks and make sure they didn't invade anything we'd brought as they were always dropping from the cabinets and whatnot. I suppose it goes without saying that she was not remotely together enough to make it to a store. I hate grocery stores. All those people and food. God! I was in my early twenties at this point, my workshop friend in her late thirties. You're going to love your thirties, Michelle. I make list of all the things I'll miss about myself when I die. I was dying to see her list, but she never gave up the goods. Some things are private, she'd say. Do you have a Tampax? I am so fucking miserable right now. You wouldn't believe, she'd start, and I'd wonder what the hell could be on the list that was more private than what she'd already revealed. What I did know that it was probably a first draft and more brilliant than anything I'd be writing.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The supreme happiness in life is the conviction of being loved not for yourself, but in spite of yourself." Victor Hugo
Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Tumble Home Amy Hempel
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!


the walking man said...

I almost wish, after reading this tale, that I had friends to write with or workshop with.

But especially a crazed person as a friend that was not centered on them selves but the dog crap they had to shovel, and T shirts that were anatomically incorrect, people who just did what they did and didn't give much care for what was around them. I can really like people like that in smallish doses.

I had one, but he passed last year listening to Metallica, drinking a fifth of something and taking his meds. His first name was Spider and he liked 'em.

It would be a short list for me because i spend so much time alone, but i think (secret revealed here) one of the things I'll miss about myself is not being normal according to what other people call normal, not really fitting in long anywhere.

Other than that, fuck it I am taking the rest of me with me.

Much peace
My Monday non Coffee
Drinking Friend


the walking man said...

Sunday...damn it I meant Sunday...sorry.

peace again always


JR's Thumbprints said...

I've never been part of a workshop. Only once did I get invited to one (yep--The House of Sternberg). As for criticism, I'm not too sure I care what other folks think.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Michelle, I love your writing. It always jars my memory. Hope you're doing well. -Jill

Cheri said...

My favorite "workshop" experience was in the advanced creative writing class that was passed off to this chick who told us the first day that she "had no creative bones in her body," and MADE us type up our comments on peoples stories. I hated it and slowly began to withdraw from even goign to class, and certainly not writing a fuckign paper on why I hated the persons story. One person wrote this horrid piece using Nintendo games and characters and it had absolutely no point. I remember throwing it at the wall and thinking, "HOW THE FUCK DO I WRITE SOMETHING NICE ABOUT THIS??" It was the worst "workshop" class that ever existed. I have a current E in it for never turning in any of my critiques, as she called them. I'll be retaking it with you should you return to teaching that class.

eric313 said...

Love the title.

Ah, the golden days of workshop. Gone forever. But the experience gives me strength. I wish for great first drafts, too. Good post.

Cheri said...

Anyways, sorry for the first comment, I was having a bad day at work and taking it out on your post haha.

I love the Chevy!

Susan Miller said...

I've wondered about workshops and groups but only momentarily. It's not hard to talk myself out of it. The girl you speak of actually makes it seem fun, but then no, uh uh, I don't think so...'cause before long she'd have me shoveling her dog shit and helping her clean her house even when mine is a total wreck...I'm serious. People start complaining and I volunteer for shit like that.

Love the quote.