Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My White Oleander Dance

While I was looking the other way, I apparently registered myself for this Write Yo'self a Novel in 30 Days Club. 50,000 words for the month o' November is the goal which translates to about 6 pages a day. And I say aloud, theatrically, "GEEZ, WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO HERE, HMMM? LORD HAVE MERCY, I CAN'T POSSIBLY DO THIS CONSIDERING MY PLATE ALREADY LOOKS LIKE I WENT BACK FOR THIRDS WITHOUT FINISHING FIRSTS. . . " But secretly I'm thanking my lucky stars that I have some sort of silent motivator, a goal and a dead line to actually vomit out a succession of words even if later I have to reedit severely to mold them into something other than a pile of dog shit caught in a rain storm. (Hey, look at me! I'm already writerly and shit.)

Actually, I'm discovering a little byproduct of being involved in the NaNoWrMO cult: As I churn out as many words as I can string together onto the page, I am completely unedited, in all areas. I am blahblahblahing poor fools to death in my real life now and it’s only day 2 of this endeavor. I am writing rambling, unconnected emails believing I'm so interesting. I word count my business emails. Poor Mandy had to listen to me drag out a long-winded story about Asperger disease today; a humorous Asperger story at that! Ug.

I get like this when I go to Squaw too. Squaw Valley Community of Writers is a week long, intensive summer workshop that I've attended a few times. As a writer, I crave a community. I want to talk about breakthroughs and bitch about The Process and laugh about how other writer's procrastinate like do they clean their refrigerator like I just did tonight? I feel this sense of community at Squaw. What we laugh about doesn't translate well to my normal life, however. Sometimes when I call Husband from Squaw and I'm all in writer-clever mode, playing with words annoyingly, he brings me back down with a timely, "What the fuck?" Or he'll get paternal on me and say, "Honey, are you hangin' with your weird people? Do you feel at home?" "Yes Papi," I gush.

And I'm feeling a twinge of this community with the NaNuNaNu thing. I'm digging it.

During my last trip to Squaw, the summer before last, it so happened that the day my story was to be critiqued, Janet Finch was our workshop leader. She was a loon which made me really love her. She was so set in her own notion of style and so convinced by it that she was all over the place explaining herself with the flipping and scrunching of her straight, long hair. And the crossing and uncrossing of legs. I don't know what the fuck she was saying about my story other than "Good stuff", and then she'd extract the craziest little detail and tell me to write entirely about that. I'd say, "About this one child here?" And she'd yell, "YES! That was beautiful. I don't get this other stuff." After the workshop emptied and scattered, she said to me, "Are you writing a novel?" And I answered, "I'm a little scared to." And she stopped being a fidgety lunatic then and she looked me dead in my face, held my hand, "One scene at a time," she said. "That's all it is. One scene after another." That's what she signed in my copy of White Oleanders.

Later in the week, I had a one-on-one with Mark Childress for whom I had already grown a deep fondness. He's just so southern in a way that when he speaks it sounds like he's wrapping you up in a hot biscuit and talking trash at the same time. And the only thing I remember from our talk was that he said, "Honey, you need to write everyday. Every single day." Before I could whine about the kids and the job and all my burdensome dutifully duteous life he said, "I don't care if you have 5 kids, two husbands and three jobs. You need to write every day." I didn't say shit. Because I'm gonna make excuses about the one thing I've wanted to do since I was nine years old? It's why I signed up for the NaNoWriMo. I'm not gonna try? I'm gonna let another month go by without pursuing what calls me everyday? Funk that.

At the end of Squaw, at the big cabin bash banger, I made Mark Childress and many others at the party blenderfuls of knockout mojitos. Mark and I talked shit, both of us sporting southern accents by then -- I COULDN'T HELP MYSELF -- and when Janet Finch arrived in a red, silk mini dress and a lavender knit scarf, she kicked off her shoes and pointed to me demanding, "Put on some music I can dance to." Which I did, and we danced to Celia Cruz in a Woodstock kind of way. After a couple more mojitos, I said to the crowd, "Here's my Carter Beats the Devil Dance!" a dance that Honduro and I made up the previous trip to Squaw after Glen David Gold gave an inspirational reading. Then I yelled, "Here's my new White Oleander Dance!" I broke out in a freeing side-to-side motion, and Janet kept dancing to the beat of her own flower.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great story and thank god you are writing. xoxo M

HollyRhea said...

see, here's what kills me.

I blog and I'm doing this NaNuNaNu thing, but I've never been a "writer". I've never even considered it a hobby. I'm a musician, drawer, seamstress...but never a writer.

Why am I killing myself for the wrong thing?

madness rivera said...

HR, It's the lure of something creative. When I don't feel like writing, I paint or make bangles or try to design killer fanny packs (NOT KIDDING, I'M SO GOING TO DO THIS ONE DAY), but when I'm done with the wild hair, I'm back to writing. You're probably just keeping the creative juices churning. Btw, I added you as my "friend" on my NaNuNaNu page.

Anonymous said...

The craziest thing is. I'm not a reader. I've never professed to be. But everytime I read your stuff you hold my attention 100%. Even if you're writing about what a wierdo you really are. People want to hear what you have to say and how you say it. You have a gift. Make your mark and run with this opportunity you have to share with the world.

kiki said...

oh, i'm so glad you're participating.

la vie en rose said...

i loved this story! wow! you are an amazing writer and i wish you the best of luck this month!

andrea said...

wow, I think I've read white oleander about 7 times... there's some strength and beauty in that novel that just takes it out of me, every time.

and this is a fantastic story, couldn't read it fast enough... hooray for the white oleander dance! I'd love to see that one...

Michelle Fry said...

I heard this on NPR a while back but didn't realize it was already underway. I am dying to know how the 30 days goes. I want to try it next time.

Rebel Girl said...

I love Mark. Hot biscuit indeed! I'm telling!

I love you too.

We all need to write every single day one scene at a time.