But this week I appear to be taking a break from commitmentphobia, to a certain extent. Or, well, that’s untrue also, since the phobia remains—but we are working through it. Breathe, Aunty, breathe.
Yesterday was the first meeting of the new writers’ group, and lemme tell ya, it was every bit as scary and intimidating as it could have been. The lady who had told me that she had about the same amount of writing experience as me, it turns out, is also—by which I mean like me—a liar. But a much more experienced one—in that the experience is in the realm of writing and publishing and education, and not, probably, lying, I mean. Everyone, apparently, has been to grad school but me. While I was off farting away my life in the mountains, raising goats, everyone else was working diligently on their MFAs. Once, back when I was a newly minted graduate of a top English program, I thought about getting my MFA. But then I realized that all the modern writers I was reading—Lorrie Moore and David Foster Wallace and … oh, I don’t know who I’m trying to fool anymore. I don’t read fiction lately, and my mind is so swiss-cheesed from the drink, I can’t think of who I used to read back in the day. But anyway, I used to read, back in the day—that’s my point. And my further point is that everyone started to sound alike to me, and I chalked it up to MFA programs and creative writing groups, and I decided that anyone could write, and all MFA creative writing programs do is make everyone sound the same: The creative-writing-school school of creative writing, I called it.
But now, I wonder if that decision not to go into an MFA writing program was borne of another realization: that I am not a worthy candidate. I am not very smart, for one thing. And I am lazy. Today, for example, while I was worrying about not having anything to turn in for next week’s writers’ group, did I write anything? An email, even? A comment on What Would Tyler Durden Do? No. I played sudoku, and I rather sucked at it. And I looked for a new blog template. And I cleaned my stinky apartment a little bit. Whether this is evidence of my laziness or my stupidity … one guesses it’s a little from column A and a little from column B.
In my favor, it seems that tastes in writing are subjective. I dated a guy last year, who went by something to the effect of The Man Who Wore No Clothes in my former blog, and he was known among his circle of friends as the best writer ever. Was he? My personal feelings about him likely color my opinion. I may not be the best judge. But honestly, among my new writers’ group buds, he would not even be allowed to join the group. And no, he is not the best writer ever, or even a good writer. Ha!
I may be feeling especially down about my talents because of one of the women who was at yesterday’s meeting. She ultimately decided not to join our group—I suspect she found me, in particular, boorish—but during her time with us she (1) asked me what I was working on, (2) admonished me for telling the group what I was working on, and (3) corrected my use of the word treatment when I should have said synopsis. I needed several drinks after talking to her, and still find myself today slapping my forehead and saying “Synopsis!” repeatedly. Of course it was “synopsis” I meant, and not “treatment.” And then I spent several minutes today googling what the difference was between the two—it seems that they are sometimes, if not often, confused, probably mostly by dummies like me, who have no post-grad degree.By way of introduction, I listed my few experiences with writers’ groups thus far, mentioning that last year I had joined a cross between a class and a critique group in Colorado, mentored by a former Wasted State University professor. “Who was it?” Synopsis Woman wanted to know. I had no idea, frankly, and explained that WSU is a small joke of a college attended primarily by those who enjoy skiing more than studying, and was thus unlikely to have recruited any creative writing professor that anyone outside of her own family would have heard of. “Oh, so no one from Saskatoon,” she said, betraying her short attention span. However, I noted (hoping that this might impress), in college I had studied under Richard Stern. As mentioned in the above-linked wikipedia article, Professor Stern is known largely (if he is known at all) for not being famous, but still, I reasoned, this pedigree-obsessed bitch might have heard of him, as he is known, if only for being the unfamous friend of certain very famous writers. But no, she had not, and I was made to feel stupid once again, just for, you know, trying.The other women in the group are awesome—awesome writers, awesome thinkers. Awesome people maybe? Who knows. They seem like it. If I find out that they singe puppies with cigarette butts, they still have other ideas that I can get behind. I am certainly outfuckingclassed. I know it, though. If only I can convince my brain to befuckinghave like something that’s trying to leafuckingrn something, maybe I won’t come off as a total jackass. Again. Because I’m pretty sure I did, yesterday, come off as one.
Oh, this all—this post—is only to make myself feel better. I write much more miserable than I feel. And the other point of this, I think, is to convince myself that, whatever else I may be, I am not a quitter. I’m outclassed, sure, but I should—and will—make the best of it. Anyway, what better way to improve than to associate with my betters? If I have learned nothing else from countless 18th-century English novels, I have at least learned that—although I like to think that I have learned a thing or two about how to play the harpsichord in polite company and the proper way to address a Lady, as well.
Also, there's this: In an effort to save money, Rich Bachelor and I are sharing a cell phone line, which should make me break out in hives and flop sweat, but actually does not. It’s not moving too fast, is it? It’s not like we’re buying a timeshare together, or adopting a Chinese. (Though I certainly want my own Chinese! These restrictions just make them all the more attractive!) Oh gush. I dunno what to say. I hope we get to share stuff for a while to come, that’s all.