thank the good lord above

for editorial comments.
since a good meeting last week  it feels like I rewrote the hell out of the first chapter– which I think I first wrote in 2010? And rewrote 2-3 times per year ever since?– this time in concentrating on a methodical, what I hope reads like pulsing progression forward through the front-story with very clear dips into the past, very clear past-pushing-into present. I also was able to pull out a lot of the passages that have always felt were merely “explain-y” and trying too hard and filled with details I was never that into that I am now hoping were actually distracting. My plan is next to move on to the Frank chapter and take it OUT of his perspective, and continue focussing on a kind of “river with eddys” image of time instead of the conceptual knot or bow I’ve been after.
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tv sincere

could I ever write something like poems (but not poems) for/to television sincerity by which I mean the kind that can only be produced within or b/c of the layers of banality and scriptednesses– I saw in your eyes that there was weight in your shoulders…

but more than malaprop, and uninterested in irony for itself, and what– ok– more bachelor– what it does to a person who is born into and then cultivates a generic tv body/physical form– and then learns or adopts the character and language over a lifetime of earnest ambition–

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a description

thinking fairly regularly about this peculiar, formative, and possibly ruinous reading habit I developed as a child of skipping names and dates. Can you believe it? Something in my brain rejected the abstract at such a basic level that I just didn’t or couldn’t feel like I was comprehending my reading unless I ignored those elements– which I think just took a lot of brainpower for me. I have very clear memories of skimming them– casting them aside as I went through a sentence in fonts I can easily picture. Memorize, was the feeling– I did not want to interrupt my reading to memorize. Names and dates do get in, cumulatively, but do not get in unless embodied or repeated– ie get in iteratively–or as an effect of being central or core enough to the whole reading experience that I /understand/ a name or a specific time marker. I have basically no cognition of names and dates as containers of meaning, and find the very notion of, or sense of anticipation of the effort of retaining them mildly but distinctly physically repulsive.

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I can’t tell if I’m sad or my shoulder just hurts. Sent ms to agent to send to editor to see. Don’t know how I feel about the book vs how the book is to/for me, so don’t understand how this feels, to show it to the people I have in the industry with these confused feelings.

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people taking pictures in museums

Used to enjoy, for spectacle and imagining the lives of people beyond to me, the people in museums taking glamour shots of each other from “fashion” to porny fashion. I think there is some kind of custom where a guy and a girl go on a date where the activity is “you dress up sexy, and I’ll take your picture with a real camera.” Then they go somewhere with a view or the museum. This different museum-photo category from ‘me with art’ vacation people. But they are starting to just really piss me off, like breeding cats for decor.  I think my mood about it is linked to the anti-gay-cake-maker-as art and the white house asking for the van gogh and being offered a gold plated toilet.

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audiobook scorecard

Stopped listening b/c the reader was so bad and then bought the book: The Abundance, Annie Dillard

Stopped b/c didn’t trust the translation on the sentence level: The Vegetarian, Han King. Should I try it again? At least the sentences unfold at a pace that suits the audio form…

Stopped listening for several reasons that don’t mean I won’t try to read it on the page at some point but I’m really more interested in the stories: Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders, read by a celebrity cast.

Finished with frustration with book: Station Eleven. Seriously, that’s all that happened with that premise? I am sure I will meet her someday and feel lousy for hating this book so much but there it is– why should I feel social anxiety just b/c we probably have friends in common? Plenty of people who might like me as a lunch date would probably hate my books and it doesn’t bother me in any important way at all. But what a narrow view of the world to be so prized by so many. Also the YA book The Giver, which I kept listening to b/c a friend who I admire said it was so important to her but I just hated it.

Stopped listening with frustration with book: Fifteen Dogs, Andre Alexis. I loved the first pages, was interested in the premise, appreciated the sentences and wanted to be in them, thought the reader was terrific, but omg GENDER stuff I couldn’t get around hearing simple and boring misogyny, and so many other smaller-scale choices that frustrated me about what to assume versus disrupt about natural vs cultural behavior.


Finished with gladness for having listened: Annihilation, Jeff Vandermeer, The Sellout, Paul Beatty, The First Bad Man, Miranda July, Btwn the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen

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I was just remembering being an undergrad, taking a ‘documentary fiction’ workshop, being really bad at not just writing what I wanted to, so to tip my hat to (okay, evade) the assignment incorporating info from 2 sources: medical definitions of death and bomb-making instructions from the Anarchist’s Cookbook which was housed in the rare book room at the library, which was the prettiest place on campus. Thinking about this and what’s on the internet.

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quick take down

I’m living in a garden-basement room of a house in a fancy neighborhood in berkeley while I’m teaching for these 6 months, and in the adorable neighborhood market I saw Michael Chabon. First I thought: why do I know that guy, just b/c he looks like people who live around here? Is it actually Andres Dubus III? If it is Andres Dubus III should I remind him of the time I waited with him on a really long line for a bathroom? But I know it makes sense that it’s Chabon, b/c of the neighborhood, so I decide yep that’s the one it is.

So do I say hi b/c I recognize him (to make him feel good about celebrity? to make me feel good about recognizing a writer? what exactly? B/c I know a funny anecdote about his wife? Are they still together? I have no idea)/

b/c I am a writer if not a writer like him (hey us littler working-away-ers appreciate all we have in common, the fucked up back, the weird affection for office supplies…some general solidarity? but only for me with my credentials, not the one who runs up to you and says ‘I wrote a novel will you read it?’ (not to mention ‘I have a novel in me will you write it for me’?)) even though I loved Mysteries of Pittsburgh when I was 20 (but not the end, which I have now forgotten), I have only picked up a few things since and didn’t really connect / “connect”– read some, put it down– but say I was his biggest fan, even then, I don’t get what it would be about–

well, it would be about “thank you” like I said to Sissy Spacek, very quietly, when I saw her at a wine and cheese thing at a bookstore in Virginia, and feel really good about. But I think I feel good about that b/c I am not an actress and I don’t make movies. And what I feel about Sissy Spacek is very specific and true to me– or it feels pure b/c I’m not in movies. What I feel for Michael Chabon is “you are very well known in my world, and I am confused about what that is about in book culture.”

and the time I was around a true superstar whose work I /have/ read a lot of (though sure as hell not like some people, I scold myself) and who has been asked so many questions why don’t I just look up anything I want to know that she thinks? And who in the world hasn’t thanked her, she doesn’t need more thanks from strangers, she needs real things that I don’t have for her, and being near her human form — I just struggled and struggle with it. In fact, it feels so private that if I ever write an essay, if I ever write anything I’d only publish posthumously, that might be it.

holy cow then two days later I saw him again, at the bougie taco place I like!



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couple weeks ago finished my draft and sent it to agent hoping it’s ready to send out. How does it feel? weird. it will feel less weird/ie like something specific when I know whether or not it’s really ready this time.

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put in book a line about squirrel hair paintbrushes being called that b/c they used to be that– it’s an innocuous detail that for me is haunted simply b/c of all things I remember it and where it comes from. so I put it in the book where I needed something– as if it would carry its feelings from my life into the book, though of course I know it won’t and don’t expect it to– been trying a little to understand the worth of planting it there regardless– am I letting it go or keeping it–

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