Today’s mind-melt: thoughts of being genuine. As a gemini these thoughts are usually swirling but today some came home to roost during a conference with a professor and an MFA student: Samrat and Alex. I don’t even know if “genuine” is the word…I’m real enough but my point in this fiction class hasn’t been to write for myself. In the conference I brought up having gotten to know the other students as I’ve been seeing their work for three semesters and kind of know what to expect from them, always tend to give them similar feedback, and have grown to like them. Sadly, I suppose, my mission in writing has been to entertain them. I want to make them laugh, make them go “Huh!”, etc.
This has proven a problem. They’ve said my work feels “emaciated” or suppressed. Alex said it seems like I’m holding back, like a given character might seem like an asshole but the reader is expected to sympathize…no, that’s not exactly it…it’s hard to describe. I guess it’s like writing an asshole on purpose but then pleading with your audience to like the character. It’s got that pleading element to it, like it’s palpable that I’m trying to please them. That’s been the problem.
Two conferences before mine they told this kid to pull back on the lyricism, that his language gets away from him and he needs to reign it in. They told me that I write very nice sentences and want me to LET IT RIP. I told them that I don’t let it rip because I have compassion for the class and want to spare them and Samrat took that as arrogance, like I was saying “I know I have it but I choose not to use it”, but really I’ve fallen to wanting to entertain. It’s stifling me; rather, I’m stifling me and today was a landmark day in my battle against my natural will toward poor self-image. I tell myself that my work is garbage so that I keep ironing and ironing but the sidecar of blanket self-rejection has been an overall silence which is hurting me.
Starting tomorrow and through spring break I’ll be going at it for myself. I’m writing horror this time, after the fashion of H.P. Lovecraft. At least that’s my ambition. Not so much in the vein of language, but in the spirit of that horrific something that may be around the corner or it may not. Suspense? Terror? It’s worth a shot. Written with some class it could come off well. The trick this time will be to finish a week before it’s due and hide it away for a few days. I would really like to turn in a third draft instead of a rough first this time.
Also, my grandfather died a few days ago. We had the type of relationship that doesn’t demand proximity or contact, but remained (for me at least) a strong emotional bond. I told him I loved him on the phone a month ago, and wrote him a letter which I hope was read to him the day before he died. Probably he was the most like me of anyone I’ve met in my extended family, and understood me better (perhaps) than anyone in my nuclear family.
I’ve been monitoring my repsponse to his death. I nearly cried once, but the tears just weren’t coming. I didn’t hold back or anything; it just wasn’t going to happen. Instead I wrote a story about him, which I’ll post on here later. It’s due Thursday as a 2K-word personal narrative and I’ve yet to revise it. I started and finished the initial draft the day after he died.