So, erm, YEAH. Apparently you noticed (hi, Mom!). And maybe even punished me (sorry, BlogHer ads team!). And I swear I wasn’t even blackout drunk for most of the entirety of a single, solitary day of it.
In fact, during a single month of it, I accomplished an Amazing Goddamned Thing: I wrote a 52,500-word novel using nothing but my bare hands and my vodka-pocked brain. Writing a novel has always been my Everest: the thing I’d plan and sketch out and start but never follow through on, so January was a sleepless, foodless, unhygienic haze of nervousness, euphoria, and something like total disbelief that HOLY FUCKING HELL, I was actually WRITING this bitch!
And at 9:30pm on January 31st, I gave Mike and Daron my word count and made a monster vodka tonic and tried to calm the hell down as they doled out the congratulations. “It’s not really a NOVEL yet,” I insisted. “It’s more just a big, jumbled collection of scenes right now. And everything’s out of order, and I’m sure the tense is all over the map. Really, when you think about it, it’s just a big, blobby blob.”
But it was MY blob, and since I was writing again, Rudy and Steven decided we should start our old writers’ group back up. So I packed up my blob and took it over to Steve’s place and gave everybody the background on the story, and Steve pours us all some wine and tells me to go ahead and read, and I start plodding through the selection of scenes I’ve brought, and all I can think is, “Oh, GAWD,” and “I wrote this trite shit?” and “Well Steven’s gonna HATE that,” and “They’re gonna tear out my liver and serve it up to me in a pâté on a Ritz cracker they are THAT BORED WITH THIS DRIVEL.”
And 90 minutes later I turned the last page and quickly glanced at both of them, and the fact that they were both staring hard at the table was a clear sign to me they were hungrily envisioning pâté-topped Ritz trays (Steve’s were garnished with parsley sprigs), and no one said anything for an eternal fucking MINUTE while I just sat there like a big fucking dummy with my big fucking blob.
Finally, Rudy took off his glasses and rubbed at the bridge of his nose.
“Fuck me,” he said. “I gotta follow that? That was phenomenal. That’s a bestseller, Tracy.”
Steve looked at me across the table, shaking his head and smiling at the same time. “It’s gonna sell a million copies,” he said with equal parts pride and disbelief.
And then we worked over the manuscript a bit, and then I didn’t write a SINGLE FUCKING WORD FOR FIVE MONTHS. This is how neurotic I am: most people take outrageous praise and run with it; I take it and run the hell away. . .
A few weeks ago, I was on the back porch shaking out some throw rugs when Eliot came out and asked, “Mama, is that them dirty things you do?”
And I was all, “Oh honey, if only you’d asked me that a couple years earlier, the answer woulda been a WHOLE lot more interesting. . .”
Because the thing is the first draft I’ve written is a roman a clef, based on an experience from a few years back, and even though it’s FICTION and it’s a NOVEL the reality that it’s rooted in FACT means opening myself to scrutiny and judgement — about which I normally couldn’t care less — but this “bestseller,” “million copies” business does tend to give one pause.*
Which is why it was perfect timing for a friend to send me this TED.com video by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” I didn’t LOOOOOVE the book, like a zillion other women certainly did, but she has some really meaningful things to say on creativity and the importance of not being attached to its outcome, as well as respecting the difference between one’s “genius” and “genie.”
(Which is important given the other day I spent 15 minutes literally trying to stuff the Diaper Genie back into the bottle, whereas if I had any genius at all, that thing’s ass would be in the air 24-7.)
* (No, that is not shorthand for “Shhh, I was a hooker!” If I finally, FINALLY wrote my damn novel and it was the true story about how I was a secret hooker, my Mom would kill me, and frankly, I can’t take the grief.)