evany's extended cake mix
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Sunday, Sept 07, 2003 | link
At school I am surrounded by people who live to write. Like they feel sick if they are somehow prevented from doing their "morning pages" or whatever.
"How's it going?" I ask. "Not so great," they say. "My friend/luver/rolfer was in town and I couldn't get any writing done," sigh, "and you know what a hell that can be, right?"
But no, I don't know. Me I can gleefully, blissfully, glissfully go for months without putting paw to paper. In fact, that's the sole reason I enrolled in this writing program: I thought that maybe all I needed was a gun to put to my head. And it sort of kind of worked. When classes are in session, I write like crazy, I really do. Maybe not until the last possible second, and maybe it isn't the superfinest stuff, but still. The problem is, when schooooooool's ... out ... for summer, I feel as though I've earned the right to do nothing, insane amounts of nothing. And I'm not so sure new pattern -- frenzied activity cycling with righteous laziness -- I'm not so sure it's any more productive than the guilt-fueled bursts of typing I managed before I had to pay an ever-increasing tuition for the privilege.
Tomato/tomato, really. Because it turns out that either way, whether I'm in school and surrounded by all the gung-ho crazies or guilting it up on my own, there's always the same small peeping suspicion that maybe I'm a little bit of a fraud? Oops? Like, if I don't have a fire burning in my belly, what's the point?
Rilke said in his Letters to a Young Poet (don't get excited, I'm not smarting up: Adrienne made me do it) you need to "acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write." When I first read that, just last week, I thought to myself, man, if you're suffering from a case of the fraudies, maybe Rilke's letters aren't the best place to turn?
But since then, I've got to thinking. My relationship to writing is actually a lot like my relationship to the gym. I always feel better after I do it, and sometimes, not all the time but sometimes, I even enjoy myself while I'm doing it. Even so, there always seems to be all these other things I'd rather be doing, like eating quesadillas or trying on outfits or watching Judging Amy. But when I do those things instead of writing/gyming, I feel guilty. See? Twins!
If I extend the "writing as gym" analogy a little further (hold on!), here's what I get: I may not love or want to marry the gym, but I need to go for my health and happiness (especially if I want to continue eating cake unabated) and overall sexiness. And same goes for the writing thing. And it's really just a small hop from "writing for health and happiness and sexiness" to Rilke's "writing to live."
So yay, thanks to some creative rationalizing and a liberal application of the transitive property (if a=b and b=c, then a=c), I can now continue to put "writer" in the little box on my income tax forms. And have the butler announce me as Word. E. Thomas. And sample ice cream at 31 Flavors topless.