The Metronome was built New York at Union Square in1999.According to wikipedia the artwork “references the multiple measures of time that simultaneously inform and confound our consciousness of the moment.” Some like it. Most don’t.
My blog had minimal interest when I started 16 months ago – maybe a dozen visits a day, and most of those by my loving partner. And then I blogged about Hurricane Sandy and interest spiked, up to 80-100 hits a day. I tried to keep interest up with my thoughts on gun control and my Top 5 Lists. Interest slid back to 10-20 hits, and I reminded myself that the purpose of the blog was to focus on my writing process. And so I stuck to that.Interestingly enough, people have been visiting more over the past few months – with hits exceeding the days of Sandy, not that this means anything, especially when I admit that most searches are the same: Kesha naked, Nadine Velasquez and Jane Fonda Barbarella.
Many years ago, I was keen to pursue creative writing at the graduate level. I had been out of college for a few years and just completed the first draft of a novel, The Sacred Whore. The genesis of the book had come to me in a flash – a gang of prostitutes kidnap a basketball team so that they can air their views on the declining morality of America – and one of the characters, Chantal, had fought against being removed from the narrative after I had done exactly that. I went back and realized the story was all about her; she was an epiphany. Flawed as it was, the book did have moments – to say nothing of Chantal – and I was enthusiastic at the prospect of work-shopping my prose.
And then I met Ben, a friend of a friend, who was registered in such a program. Ben waxed not-so-eloquently about his attempt to re-invent the novel and went on and on about that. I couldn’t get away from him fast and far enough and promised myself I would never be stuck in such conversations again.
And so instead of pursuing my work in school, I planted trees in northern British Columbia, bicycled across France and Spain, edited closed captions for sitcoms and soft-core porn, did the biking again, coached pee-wee hockey, taught high school English, started a film festival and wrote copy about toilets, all of that to buy time to write. And write I did – in Paris, Dublin, Toronto, Vancouver and New York, in apartments and houses, notes in the post office, on menus and tickets, in transit, in journals, on computer after computer, saving copies, emailing myself additions to text – putting everything together, always in isolation. I have a clear sense of who I am as I write. It’s just me and the words coming out of my head, a long wavering stream that I sometimes catch and can feel crystalline within, almost exactly like that. My writing grants me understanding, gives moments where life isn’t just chaos and missteps. It allows me to consider and process, search through thoughts and events, my reactions and those of others, their expressions, and find the words that make some sense. The book is my focal point – the concept, the research, the going back and starting again, a character suddenly there, the honing and culling, the letting go and bringing to an end.
I remember my second year at university. All of my friends wanted to go down to the field and initiate the freshmen, cover them with whipped cream and blue dye, make them do stupid things, just humiliate them and get them horribly drunk. I looked at these people – my friends, good friends – and they were practically foaming at the mouth, intimidating these kids.I don’t know. It was like rape.
These kids were only a year younger than us, just a year, but we had had it done to us, and so it was our turn. It was our turn to be bullies. That’s what we were trained to do. We called it a rite of passage or some bullshit about growing up, but it was just rape. And it doesn’t stop there. It’s in everything we do, in school, at work, buying groceries, getting on a plane, walking in the street.
We learn to accept it. We learn to give it back. Worse than that, we learn to derive pleasure from giving it back. We feel justified in giving it back.That’s why I don’t have faith in us. We’re more infantile than when we were kids.
I’m off to another writing conference this weekend and have put together a first draft for a book jacket blurb on my bad side:
Deirdre Sinclair comes home late one night to find her sister’s drunken boyfriend armed and her prized exotic cat bleeding at his feet. She decides to shoot and asks questions, then fleeing the city to Canada. Dazed and injured, she remembers her tiny legs dangling from a high chair, her infant sister, Crystal, pulling cereal off the counter and their mother dead on the floor, pills scattered about her head. Deirdre’s journey with Apollo to the barren landscape of Newfoundland forces her to confront her fears and loneliness, bringing to mind her isolated childhood, her years at a boarding school and an aborted practice as a veterinarian before moving to New York in an attempt to reconnect with her sister. Immured in alcoholism, Crystal shuns her sister and keeps the world at bay with her boyfriend, Derek, a fire fighter who lost his company in 9/11, and who has developed a chronic obsession from working at the site. Deirdre makes a dramatic turn from working with abandoned animals to the escort industry and performance sex in her attempt to come to terms with her traumatic youth and a moment she cannot remember, a memory she cannot forget.