December 01, 2009

If this Shark Ain't Swimming, It's Dying

First: Thanks, The Normal School, for the Pushcart Prize nomination! How cool to be up there with Beth Ann Fennelly. I can't wait to see the issue.

Second: Thanks, Steve! As part of an ongoing project, poet Steve Schroeder took a line from a poem in Theories of Falling ("My Los Alamos") and as the title of his own draft. Very cool. You can find my poem here.

I've spent the last few days hacking through the thorny underbrush of writer's block. I've invoked the nuclear option: getting ready as if I'm going to pull an all-nighter, pretending to ignore the doubting demons who from each shoulder. Pouring a glass. Eating a snack. Then...falling asleep on the couch fully clothed, contacts in, lights on.

I wake up feeling so guilty at the lost potential of the previous night that I go straight to the laptop (or bring it back to the couch) and start typing. Being only half-awake myself, the demons sleep in for a few precious hours, leaving me alone with my thoughts. It's a short-term option, best used when single or in the isolation of a writer's colony (someone explained to me tonight the phenomenon of assuming "geographic bachelor" status, though I think that had shadier connotations).

The downsides of this tactic: unnecessary midnight rounds of peanut butter, tumblers of scotch poured and then wasted, a general feeling of grunginess.

The upside: Words.

I have a particularly rich incentive to get some work done in the next few days, because next weekend I am going to Pittsburgh. As you might remember from earlier posts, I have a bit of a crush on the Emerald City. When Typewriter Girls were kind enough to invite me back up for their fundraiser reading in support of the Carnegie Libraries on Sunday, December 6, I couldn't say no. I was a proud card-carrier of Tysons Pimmit Regional Library, growing up. Public libraries changed my life.

Then when I looked at the calendar and saw that December 4 was the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative's "Unblurred," a beefier version of the open-artist-studio nights known as First Fridays here in DC, I couldn't resist the chance to get to know Pittsbugh's visual arts scene a little better. In for a penny, in for a pound, at least when it comes to road trips. That means I'll have all Saturday to get lost in the Andy Warhol Museum and, per my mother's long-running wishes, walk the grounds of Fallingwater.

But all that fun is fun I've got to earn. So, to bed! Lights out! the couch. Lights...on.

Whatever it takes.


bill said...

Emerald City? I thought that was Seattle. I grew up in Pittsburgh and it was the Steel City or (archaic) the Iron City....although I read on a city map once that Pittsburgh has more trees than any other city. How can they possibly know? Whoever "they" is. Have a good trip.

Jessie Carty said...

Congrats on the Pushcart nod :)

About Steve said...

Thanks for your kind words about my blog on its first anniversary. Hope you enjoy Fallingwater. I have been there several times (including this past weekend). Check out Kentuck Knob (another FLW house) nearby, if you have the time.

thomdawkins said...


Just met the Typewriter Girls recently through mutual friends. Spectacular folks.

Hope to run into you at one of the many events you seem to be attending.