It’s been a minute. How’s everyone holding up? COVID shows no signs of slowing down and if you’re anything like me you’re still living in the strange wake of it. You’re a boat and there’s the dock but you just can’t get there anymore.
Anyway, that’s not what this is about.
It’s short notice, but I’ll be reading at a friend and colleague’s virtual storyteller series tomorrow night called The MUGG! Readings will be on Thursday, May 14th between 7:00 to 8:00 pm EST and admission’s free – you just have to follow the link below to RSVP. I’ll be reading with a bunch of other awesome others, some of whom I know and others who I’m excited to meet. Please join if you can – I’ll be reading brand new work never before heard!
There’s my shameless plug. But really, it’ll be blast and you should come. Thanks for everything. Here’s the link:
Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve been putting off cleaning my coffee pot for a couple weeks but I finally bought white vinegar; I ran the vinegar for two cycles, dumped it, rinsed it, ran the machine with water; the coffee still tastes the same, but it’s got more confidence than before; cleaner; self-assured; that kid in middle school who made all A’s and didn’t even know people were poking fun at her about it; blank paper.
Yesterday’s Coffee Log was live. I read a few selections from the past year at Fig Raleigh. I answered a few questions. “Do you ever worry about alienating the friends and family that you write about?” Yes, but I don’t stop writing about them. I wouldn’t know how to stop. Etc, etc. After the questions, I listened to twelve colleagues read. They read fiction and poetry. I like being an audience for people who’ve got something to say.
I’m driving to Richmond today. I’m excited for the trip. I’m nervous for the trip. I feel like one of those puppies you see in commercials – eyes wide, half-wanting to be adopted, half-scared of everything outside the pen. It’s been five years since I’ve traveled on my own. I used to make a point of traveling – taking off to wherever. Then I thought ‘hey, I need to get to know a place, I need to responsible to the people that feed me with their taxes.’ I’ve been getting to know NC like an old-new friend, someone you lost contact with long enough to forget about them. Now that I kind of know her I’ve forgotten important parts of myself.
Back to the reading: I love listening to people’s voices. The way you say something on stage is different from how you and I are talking. And it’s different from person to person. Z came to watch me. Then we stood in the audience together and listened to the other performers. He said everyone had a different style. They did have different styles. I don’t think there’s anything more honest than putting yourself in a spotlight. It’s not the you that comes naturally, it’s everything you’re aspiring to be.
Tomorrow, I’ll write this blog from a hostel bar. Or a Richmond cafe. Or a bench outside an art museum. Or a street corner. Or the backseat of my car. Who knows? I’m two blades of grass pressed together, stuck between your teeth, anticipating whatever kind of sound is about to blow.
Novel Count: 38,047 (I’ve been so stuck on preparing for the open mic feature, the trip, business at work, that the novel’s gotten stagnant. And now that it’s stagnant I don’t know what to do. I’ll push through, but that might mean surgery. I might cut out some things, change some others. Marriage – hard work to fall in love all over again.)
Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
I went back to the open mic I’ve been going to for one year now. It’s called ‘Third Wednesday.’ This was my anniversary with the group, though I only realized that after everyone had read and we were sitting around eating falafel. I think there was pita in my mouth when I had the ‘aha!’
You could say that Third Wednesday and this blog are intimately tethered. You could say that and I would say it. Last year at this time I’d just lost my job to layoffs. I’d also finished the last draft of my first novel and realized it probably wasn’t publishable – too short, too much vanity. I’d been working on that novel for four years and employed at the same job for three of them. Last February, life completely changed.
So I figured: what the hell, let’s start over. I looked up open mics for writers in the Raleigh area. I picked the place that was closest to my home. I’d never read my work in public (unless you count college classrooms or the two lines I gave during my acceptance for a writing scholarship) and I needed something to back me up, make me feel prepared. I wanted to walk in looking like I was supposed to be there. So I made this website ground up – blog and writing samples and templates and everything – the day before.
Tonight I read a bit of the book I’m working on. I’d had a few drinks and the passage wasn’t edited so my words just sort of slumped over. Not my best reading. But not once did I feel nervous with that mic in my hand. The audience was an even split of familiar faces and new. Some were people with a penchant for words and others were already making writing close to a career. And whatever their opinions of my reading, however they took this particular train wreck, I didn’t care – I had no doubts that I had a right to the mic in my hand.
Writing about coffee (or not about coffee) for 364 days straight does a number on you. A good number. Take it from me.
Novel Count: 25,512
Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
We sat outside at two black tables with a tree taking up half the space. The tree was potted. Someone had stuck a bow in it.
‘Writers’ – what a weird word. Less a profession than a red-eyed cry of aspiration, though anyone of us claiming the title probably wishes there were dollar bills behind it. I called myself a writer in elementary school when my poems won contests and my first short story was printed and bound by the school librarian. Then I stopped in high school when I realized I was only writing for myself and friends.
Well, I’ve been published a couple times since then. It’s not much, nothing to brag about, but I mention it because it didn’t take the feeling of ‘not-a-writer’ away. In 2016, the sense that no matter who saw me, who read me, I might still feel insufficient sunk me like a swiss cheese boat. I’m still sinking. But I’m also working harder, planning smarter, and writing every day.
Am I a writer yet? Damning, liberating, only way I can respond is: who cares?
I ate falafel with friends from the Third Wednesday Open Mic tonight. They all wrote good words. Secretly, though, I spent half the night staring at the girl in the black dress with the boat-oar legs at a separate table; she was scribbling something furious in a bound journal.