I’ve been eking out work these days. Like squeezing the water out of a wet swimsuit kinda stuff, y’all. Like every time I think I can get it all out in one squeeze, I can’t. Where does the water come from?! Don’t tell me, I know it has something to do with the type of material the swimsuit is made out of, but Christ I’d like for the water to just come out all at one, you know?
No, you probably don’t know because you have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m talking about my thesis, y’all because of course I am! What is the deal with this thesis? Why can’t I write right now? Do I need to just drop everything and go to DisneyWorld? Well, the answer to that is yes, always yes, but won’t that just be procrastinating? But isn’t that what I’m doing by writing this blog about how I can’t write?
Here’s the thing, I sit down to write a full short story, maybe a 10-pager, hopefully a 20-pager, and I all I get is about five pages. That’s it. I squeeze and squeeze and squeeze and it dribbles out. This is highly unusual for me, that’s why I’m telling you this. Normally I think about a story for a few weeks, then sit down and it pours out of me. But I have been thinking about TWO stories for OVER a month now and nothing happens when I sit down. Just drip, drip, drip…
Maybe the stories have no merit? Maybe they suck and I know it subconsciously? Or maybe I’m just so freaked out by these deadlines that I am sabotaging myself? Or maybe I think my thesis advisor is tired of my shitty work? Or maybe, just maybe, I’m afraid of the work I know they will take and I don’t want to do it?
All these questions.
All this water.
Send help. But not a life raft. I’m still on dry land.
I’m working on my thesis this week, in case you can’t tell by the title. It’s a collection of short stories and it’s the first time I’ve really tried my hand at fiction and it is tough. Really tough. I have been reading all these great short stories for like a year now by famous writers, no-so-famous writers, friends, colleagues professors, all of it. I’m taking it all in and today I had a breakdown, err, breakthrough, breakthrough. Sorry, I’m so used to writing, “Today I had a breakdown.” I had a BREAKTHROUGH!
I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago that I thought was utter nonsense, actually just me working on some childhood bullshit and it was time to send my third set of thesis pages to my advisor so I sent that bullshit in with a note: “This is pretty much bullshit. But you wanted something.” My advisor wrote me back something like, “This is great. Let’s talk!” So we talked. And she liked it. She liked it so much that she said something about it being the “anchor” story and I almost screamed a little because I didn’t think I’d ever write a story that might carry a collection and then there is this and the more I thought about it the more I realized that it probably is the anchor story, and the title story of the collection, and holy shit it’s all the theme for the whole collection and what do I do now?!
Then as breakthroughs go, I had another one. They come in succession in case you didn’t know because it has yet to happen to you, and in this succession I saw very clearly the ending image for my thesis and it’s marvelous, just marvelous, only now the problem is that I have to write it. And my advisor has to think it’s doesn’t suck all that much. Then I have to defend it all of course, which makes me sick to my stomach, but this is not my first rodeo, so I know it’ll be fine.
So like usual I have no real point with this post other than to say, things are looking up. And last week, they were not looking up, and remind you that this is life, up and down, down and up. I hope this is an up week for you too, but if it isn’t then next week surely will be!