November 4, 2018

there are two dead dogs and writing is bullshit

The whole reason I started reading Needful Things in the first place was because I was in a weird-bad mood last night and I needed a way to escape my head.  My eyes scanned the bookcase near where I sat in the living room and after perusing P.J.'s extensive Stephen King Section, I settled on that particular book because I'd heard over the years that it was, for King, a milder, fuck-with-your-head sort of story instead of actual horror.

And the weird-bad mood was based on the declaration that November is some sort of national novel-writing month, where you challenge yourself to write a certain number of words each day and have something approaching a finished product, or at least a damned good start, to show for it right when the last of the tired turkey leftovers are being consumed.

A national novel-writing thing, I have decided, exists for the sole purpose of making me feel completely inadequate in every way, a failure, a poser, delinquent, and .... well, less.  I feel less.  I don't have ideas like other people.  No one even understood that the poem I posted a few days ago was about a bi-polar swing and what it might be like for someone who's seasonal-affective.  It's shitty.  I dwelled on writing and explored all its facets for a while, and then moved on to consider my therapist and how I'm completely wasting his time because not only will I never be a real writer, I'll never make any discernible progress with the self-injury or the deeper trauma and bi-polar disorder doesn't go away and I'm helpless against it.  Then I thought that maybe those thoughts are me pushing him away because I'm terrified he's going to retire soon and if I go first, it won't hurt.

Yeah, right.

So I pulled the book off the shelf, removed the dust jacket, and plunged in.  P.J. and I sat reading with the fireplace crackling, and in the first pages, I pointed out some things I noticed about King's writing.  She used this to counter my argument about my own writing potential, because now I'm reading and seeing the craft instead of the content.  Her faith in me is endlessly infuriating, but I also don't think I could live without it.

At some point in there, I slept, but late this morning, somewhere around page two-hundred, I slammed the book back onto the shelf, where it can stay, as far as I'm concerned, until it rots and turns to peat.  It's set in Trigger City, Maine, and while I held up marvelously while being asked to cope with a ten-year-old dying in a wreck because the gas tank of the car exploded, while also coping with a toddler dying in an apartment fire while his mother was at work, someone went and stuck a corkscrew through the chest of a dog that was asking for a belly rub and pinned it to the floor in a pool of dark blood, and I told coping it could go fuck itself with a cactus dipped in lime juice and rolled in flaky sea salt.

I sat on the couch and pulled my knees to my chest and sobbed for more than a few minutes, took ragged breaths, and tried to pull my shit together because I had to shower because this afternoon was the first Messiah rehearsal.  I managed to shower while sobbing, and dry my hair while sobbing, and get dressed while collecting superfluous snot in various paper products.  Eventually I calmed down.  P.J. came in and could tell I wasn't exactly having a nice, level day, so I told her what had happened.

Five minutes later, we both checked our e-mail and read the one from our brother who said that one of the dogs, our fur-nephew Chino, died a few days ago after two months of illness.

It's impossible to describe where I went, other than "deep inside", because the two things merged in my brain and all I could see was a man's hairy arm sticking a corkscrew into Chino and screwing him to the living room floor of some crazy woman's house in Maine.  I tried to envision a vet's office instead, an I.V., kind hands petting him, anything, but there was only the corkscrew.  Not actual horror, my ass.

It took a couple of pills and a few hours of singing at rehearsal and driving around to get my head straightened out.  There will be my photographic memory "gift" to deal with, but that is for later.

Right now, I'm really fucking sad about Chino's death and also more than slightly angry that we knew nothing about this, because when Chester was sick, we kept them apprised.  Maybe they wished we hadn't; maybe it made them sad and they didn't want to know.  Maybe they thought they were being kind to us.  We'll never see the little guy again.  That makes it hard to swallow the sips of coffee I'm taking right now.  Molly looks a lot like Chino.  In fact, we adopted her a week after visiting them and spending time with Chino and falling completely in love with him.  We didn't realize we were getting a dog that could be his twin, but we did all the same.  And part of this feels like losing Chester all over again.

I've decided that in terms of writing, I owe no one anything and I don't have to write a book and I'm not that kind of writer, if I'm even a writer at all, and writing can wait until coping-with-corkscrew-dogs is finished and use that same cactus without even rinsing it off first.

I've also decided that in terms of reading, I'm going to stick with young-adult fiction, and to hell with the adult world.  If you need me, you can find me in the juvenile fiction section of the public library over in town, getting re-acquainted with Ramona Quimby and the fascinatingly deep, non-archetypal characters in Fablehaven.


  1. If you couldn't fucking write why would I be checking this page at least three or four times a day for new posts? I went through the King phase and wouldn't return to it for love or money. There's absolutely no such thing as non-horror with King.

    Your writing makes me laugh, tear up, sometimes sob, makes me run, (well, hobble) to the 'beg-pardon', grin for the day, or know absolutely that you need a hug and then to be left alone. Your writing resonates with me.

    You are very correct, you don't owe anyone anything and no, you don't have to write a book and yes, PJ is absolutely accurate in pointing out the ways you DO shit and get it right.

    And even though I do check to see if there's a new post, you don't even have to fucking post if you don't feel like it. Be yourself, good, bad, indifferent and in most instances absolutely brilliant.

    That's all. Love you *hugs*

    p.s. the very fact that I'm cursing should give you a fucking clue that I think you're fantastic.

  2. Lille,

    I can't read or watch Stephen King. The images and thoughts and words stay in my head and it isn't good. The fact that he can have that kind of impact on people, though, is what makes him such a fucking good writer. My limitations, not his.

    I wonder if you are disappointed with the comment I made to your poem, Cycle. That's okay with me if you are (not that you need my fucking permission to feel or be anything you want!) All I'm trying to say is that I get it. Sometimes it just feels like no one gets me and they don't understand and I can't write to save my ass and what I'm writing is not resonating and then it's scary for me because I think I'm letting people down who read my blog and have expectations and I'm not fucking delivering -- I'm thinking that you are feeling a little like that right now -- not the delivering on your posts because you are truly a talented writer. And so what if people do nanowrimo. Since I first heard that word several years ago, I thought it was a stupid word. However, if people want to challenge themselves and it helps motivate them -- good for them. I will never be able to do nanowrimo, though, because that's just not who I am. Also, I'm not a novelist; however, that doesn't mean I'm not a writer because I am. And so are you!

    Anyway, if what I wrote on Cycle was upsetting to you, please let me clarify a little. I believe I said -- "In Texas, we're not quite there yet! However, just around the corner and I'll be looking at a similar street and be thinking of your poem! The ghost story called Spring -- what a wonderful tale to speak of hunched around a campfire in the crisp autumn air!"

    What you may not have caught is that I, too, am sometimes metaphorical in what I write. I know that you go through sometimes vicious cycles of mood only because you've written about them. However, I, too, often get melancholy, okay, I get fucking depressed for long stretches of time to be honest, and my physical health has always been a struggle, though not enough that I'm dying or anything (fingers crossed), but enough to keep me miserable. So "Texas" refers to me, of course; and for me, Spring is less of a ghost story and more of a myth; and campfires in the fall are definitely a ghost from my past for me. I doubt I will ever enjoy another campfire again; so a little irony there. And just around the corner is always the melancholy and my body failing me in some way and the stress, which I am always trying to keep at bay, but it all catches up regardless. If you read my post titled "2016" on my blog, you'll get a better idea of how metaphorical I can be and how bleak I can be. Anyway, I apologize if I offended you. That's never my intention and you know that I think the world of you (and that is not a metaphor!) Of course, maybe you weren't referring to what I wrote at all and I'm just doing what I sometimes do, thinking it's all about me and I'm now making an ass out of myself! Ha!

    What I know more now than I even did when you wrote your poem is the amount of anguish and distress you are going through. Hopefully, it will pass soon if it already hasn't. And the shitty thoughts and feelings do pass, just never soon enough! I'm glad you have loved ones there for you, as I know you are there for them when they need you. I'm glad I have the same. I hope you continue to do you and know that even at your worst and even at our most ignorant, you are still worthy and still accepted and still loved and an amazing writer -- as infuriating as that may be. We are all in this fucking mess called Life together and you are a bright spot for me (and I can only imagine to so many others as well) when life is often disappointing. Sending hugs and more hugs! Mona

  3. Oh, good grief, both of you! *clangs your heads together to get your attention*

    First of all, even when my skin won't let me take it in, y'all are this great, big mountain love sitting there waiting to avalanche all over me the second I glance that way. I don't deserve it, but who the hell deserves a mountain? A mountain is going to stubbornly be there whether you want it to or not (we won't go into dynamite at this point in the lecture), whether your mood will let you look at it or make you turn away. It's still there. I know this.

    Second thing: I am in no way offended/insert-other-negative-term by you, Mona, interpreting my poem the way you saw it - which is, like, what poems are for, right? I lost sight of that and I was whiny and that was not becoming of me. Or insert some other wonderful Southernism, which you do well in Texas. I was whining because NO ONE got it, but upon further examination, maybe that's because I wrote it through an obtuse, highly personal lens and was expecting others to be mind-readers. I'm not going to take it down, though I really wanted to before.

    It is so helpful to hear that you have no intention of penning a massive tome any time soon. I have this enormous pressure to write a book because I feel like it's expected of me as soon as I lose some sort of invisible training wheels - which is totally not the case, the rational me knows - and that pressure is coming from myself, not from others. You get that when you go through school as "the smart kid" ... when you're head and shoulders ahead of all your classmates ... the way the adults deal with you, you develop this worldview that you're just expected to go on to do things that others define as great/fitting. Only, I didn't. I dropped out of college and had to finish at the third one I attended. I have had jobs, not a career. I didn't get fancy scholarships because I left high school a year early in what amounts to a huge "FUCK YOU" to those people who made me feel that way. They didn't even have the decency to hide their disappointment.

    Anyway, all that is to say, I have a major propensity to put pressure on myself to achieve if I feel like I'm supposed to. The nanowrimo thing just throws lighter fluid on the belief that I'm supposed to and I'm not. I've got to come to terms with that, somehow. I mean, my wife was a literary editor and thinks I have "the chops" to really do something with writing, and sometimes I make her cry and a lot of times I make her laugh, just through the blog, sometimes through an e-mail. I can't just ignore that. But ... I only just got here. I don't know my way around yet.

    The mood will pass soon and I'll stop having things like "why the fuck am I even telling people all this shit?" go through my head.

    And the hardest thing to say, I have to make myself say, but it means looking at the scary, towering mountain: Thank you. Seriously. I love y'all back.

  4. You're welcome :)

    I didn't have a clue what the poem was about, I just knew it made me sad.

    *goes away with ears ringing from the head banging*

    love you too - very much