I think it's good to be humbled but there are different sorts of humbling, and the Oedipal ones attached to institutions are profoundly demoralizing. Lately I walk around and I feel profoundly demoralized, and I think in some ways this is a positive sign, because it means I'm still changing and growing and I'm not really invested in this cult of the self-as-author (this is another sort of cult of the author, where one believes the hype, which is all that it is, hype and smoke, there are no authors really in this society unless one lives in Brooklyn and has the first name of Jonathan, although there are editor pants one can buy at Express). Whenever I feel the slightest bit blown up - like I as a named entity exist in the world - something happens exactly at the same time to deflate me so sorely and so instantly that I am almost glad for it. Yesterday I reread Dennis Cooper's Closer - which is one of the core texts I remember reading *before* I was a reader, if that makes sense, when I was just a blobby bag of intense emotion, and it is still so clear, his vision, his style. Although this didn't make me feel demoralized - it made me feel lovely to read, although I did scribble something childish in my journal afterwards about how I'm a photocopy of a photocopy and I'll just ever hope to rip off Cooper or Acker or all the greats and HOW to be original, and can one be original anymore? Sometimes I still write such funny super emotional juvenalia. A lot of the art writing in Closer, and position in a particular time and place and scene, flew over my head when I read it when I was oh, 21, because I was a very young 21, and not the brilliant and precocious twenty-something of so many fellow writers I am meeting. I feel I just started to gain consciousness, like, last year, actually. Actually I think I go in and out of consciousness. My new resolution is to attempt to stay alert.
If anything has come out of publishing it is a valuable, wonderful, one-on-one communion with fellow delicate and uncertain souls, that fills me with such immensity, and makes me think about this notion of writing or making things as a gift, which is ultimately I think how I think about it, a gift and a form of communion/communication. That is why I go here, to this white box of space and write. Communion/communication. Sometimes fervent and desperate yet uncertain and tentative. I am so lucky to have met recent brilliant ones - like Kari L or Kristen S who write me emails/communiques that I cherish. Kristen S started reading my blog because Bhanu told her it was a model of doubt, I think, which made me think of this space in a new way, and I do like that, the model of doubt, I think Heroines too is a book of profound doubt as to my own authorship and a sort of cherishing in that as well. (By the way - Bhanu's -Schizophrene - available now - glorious, glorious, glorious.) One of the books that is most profound to me that I reference over and over again in Heroines is Ingeborg Bachmann's Malina - if you have not read it, you MUST stop reading this and go to the library and read it, because every writer should read it, I think - it is referenced often because John and I reference it often as some sort of standard in our own relationship and M/F power struggle - it is also maybe John's favorite book, if it is in my top ten, and for a while I refused to finish it, because I was so jealous of how in love John was with Ingeborg Bachmann, and he wrote me notes in the text that referenced our own relationship, which I write to in Heroines.
But anyway to me Malina is among many other things - a work of delayed memory and trauma, both personal and historical and how the two conflate - a novel about being a woman writer, but in Bachmann's case a fictionalized version of being a well-known writer, as Bachmann was in her time, quite the blonde mermaid celebrity, and what publicity does to privacy. I think in some ways, if Heroines succeeds, which I'm not sure it does, it's the opposite - it's a nonfiction novel about an anonymous woman writer, who is enthralled to her own minor status and certain disappearance. Or maybe that's the work I will write at another time. Heroines is not a nonfiction novel. I think, it is a tract combined with a memoir. It is nothing. It doesn't really exist. Or won't until it gets final, editorial, approval, which it might not, and if so, I might go totally bag-lady crazy and photocopy it and walk the world the rest of my existence muttering lines from The Waste Land and giving it away for free. Perhaps I will become a bag lady outside of The Bodeleian in Oxford, where Viv's papers are ostensibly housed, and I will distribute my writing there. I will become known as that bizarre lady with the frizzy hair who has various conspiracy theories about the Fitzgeralds and Eliots, and who apparently once published a novel, if you believe her, it's ranked 1 million on Amazon.
This morning in my inbox I got an email from KS that is such a deeply personal and pitch-perfect and thankfully queer reading of Green Girl (and no one else has mentioned this to me before, what I have always felt was so apparent in the text, the queerness and erotic subtext in the relationship between the two ostensibly "straight" toxic girls that is in some ways tacit and in other ways aggressive) that I felt warmed all over and known, yes, read. I once read an interview with Danielle Dutton before I had met her in person but was so thrown by what she did in Attempts at a Life (still am, still thrown by everything she writes) where she spoke about the immense gift of publishing, that is starting to have readers. I agree. I think about that - the surprise of being read, of being engaged with, of entering into another dialogue where others write their own beautiful stories on top of my own, and it becomes almost this patchwork of stories that spin off from each other. I love that. It's a profound gift of publishing, as opposed to I suppose being Pessoa and writing on one's scraps in a box and storing it for an eventual later when one is no longer alive - although to be fair that is not exactly what Fernando Pessoa did but anyway. Everything, everything else about it really sucks though I think. I know not the best attitude to have before launching on some sort of wandering reading tour, but if there's anything I'm sure is fairly central about my being, and has been since probably birth, is that I have a terribly bad attitude.
I found out yesterday about a creative writing position available here, and since I have not been able to find a lick of work, thought perhaps I might try to apply for it, despite my lack of a terminal degree, which yes, always makes me think of death and dying. But then I have like 0% chance of getting it, for a variety of reasons, and then I talk myself out of it. I have to get a number of recommendations for it, and the first person I asked- the department head at a school where I adjuncted in the past - told me she didnt' remember me enough to write a substantial letter towards me, and she's sorry I couldn't find adjunct work, but without an MFA or a Ph.D. or a MAJOR publication it was frankly impossible, as everything's so competitive, despite me finding a fair wealth of work in both Ohio, most recently, and Chicago, prior, even though I wasnt' even remotely published in Chicago prior. And then I realize we still have this notion of major/minor from modernism, and I want to Xerox this email (because everything is retrograde to me today, why am I talking about photocopying? everything is digital I feel hopelessly analogue) and show it to Chris when we argued at her kitchen table in Los Angeles that there is no notion of the major or minor in writing today and I said back, Of course there is, and felt I had to write an entire book to prove this point.
We are moving to the cottage tomorrow and we are not nearly packed. John is more laissez-faire about such things, I become like the chick in Election when moving, with lists and clipboards, but since I am still so post-surgical, I am having to relent and do nothing and hope it will happen, somehow. The week we moved out of Chicago a man was murdered across the street from our apartment in Pilsen. I open Heroines writing about it. Last night John and I were exiting our loft building when we saw a man running at us, fast, he was only inches from us and we turned and saw a running police officer pointing a gun at us and screaming to stop or he'll shoot. The other man leapt into our back patio where we leapt into the neighboring patio - literally leapt - and hid under our neighbor's patio furniture while the cop tackled the guy and it was all very dramatic, and then later our back patio turned into a crime scene, with sniffing dogs, etc. And I have a dramatic abrasion on my wrist from leaping over the concrete wall. Funny since I'm not supposed to exercise, I wonder if the sort of fight or flight physicality is included, or there are exceptions from trying to dodge outside of the line of fire. It shook us. I am having some flashes this morning, as I tend to go very OCD in circumstances like this, it's just a startle, I'll close my eyes and see a man running, like at me. But obviously we always need some sort of rupture to shake us out of a quiescence. A violence to moving.