Saturday, July 23, 2011

Writers who speak to me

To tell you the truth, I won't be happy if I end up being T. C. Boyle or even Johathan Franzen despite how much I love them. Just to torture myself I refuse to be happy unless I am Jeffrey Eugenides or Nabokov or Fitzgerald or Salinger. I would tear myself up if I were McEwan, trying to crack the idea of a satisfying ending, same goes for Paul Auster I am afraid. I would be just as cranky and pleased with myself as Annie Proulx if I were her and in fact I would probably throw that memoir out there just out of sheer self-satisfied spite knowing I could go back to fiction as quickly as I could raise my middle finger. Being Nicholson Baker I could possibly retire with a certain smug content and if I were M J Hyland I would sleep more easily at night knowing I have made something close to perfect. To tell you the truth, if I were Ondaatje I just don't know what I would do, probably cry a lot and chain myself to the desk and tangle myself up in tortured gorgeous metaphors in search of a half decent plot.

I can't help but compare and contrast and sure it is arrogant of me to even breathe these names alongside my own, but right now I am just as intimidated by the books on my shelves as I am by the other women I see walking down the street. My posts about sex have been usurped by a sudden wave of self-doubt. The demon is back and he is devouring me from the inside out. He has eaten my ego as an entree and he is gnawing on the bones of my self-esteem. Every sentence I write now is accompanied by a voice that tells me I should look at my sentences, if I want to write something half decent I should go back to it at a sentence level even though I know this is precisely how not to write a novel.

Back to the sex. That is what this blog is about, and yet sex seems so trivial at this moment. I am drawn to John McGahern and Willy Vlautin and Carver, these are the people who hold my hand and stand by me and urge me on. Patrick McGrath tells me that I don't have to be perfect. I can still produce precious gems in the rubble of a work that seems not quite complete. Nin tells me, fuck it, just be honest and stick to what you are good at and ideas of excellence can go to hell. Anne Enright says come outside for a minute and have a smoke and remember what it was you came here for. Sonya Hartnett plays chase and I haven't caught her yet but perhaps we can run side by side for a while if I train really hard. Chris Ware says it is easy although I know it is not. He tells me to keep looking in places that other people discount. In the end you will find it in the places you have gone back to since you were a child.

I know I am a bit mad again. Have been for weeks. I know that the output has been solid and sustained but a little on the scary side. I drop between highs and lows in a matter of minutes. I can maintain two opposing views at the same time. There is a novel just out of my reach and I keep throwing lines out to catch it. Reeling them in with the bait barely nibbled at. This might be the one. This might be the wave I ride to satisfaction. I wish I could just hop on board it, stop boring you all about it here and get back to the plain talking sex.

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