There are times (this being one of them) when reading other writers’ words feels like a sack of wet sails landing on your head. You’re already struggling with your own writing; down to dribbles of words eked out after hours of resistance. And there they are: stupendous, excellent, good, not great and pretty dismal, arrayed for your appreciation and critical appraisal. Published, in a word. Added to the despondency, the inner critic adds the accusation of fraud. You’re a fraud, the inner critic says.
We’re back to the notion once spoken by an adult to an adolescent : you knew a writer by the fact his or her words appeared on printed pages bound into a book. Same as you knew a musician because he or she had recorded something, an actor because… and so on. All true of course – as in: nobody knows you if nobody knows you. How’s that for profound.
So. Swimming – close to drowning, actually – in other writers’ published words. The metaphorical exercise now consists in climbing back aboard my own ship after that unfortunate incident with the wet sails landing on my head. A character flaw. Everyone has them. How can one of my characters make some use of my own – because, at times, there’s nothing else to work with.
The title: another metaphor summarizing the feeling. School math and I were not friends. (A character raises a timid eye in my direction. A wavering finger, maybe?)
They can’t know you if they don’t know you. Desktop littered with Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Modern Short Stories (Mansfield, Faulkner, et al), three Icelandic detective romps of varying interest. Plus notes, notebooks, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork for me and my pals.
Sundays are a bitch. So are some Saturdays. Several Fridays. Many Thursdays. and so on.