Novel / Writing / Writing and Reading

A Peek Under the Bandage

Yesterday I did a recorded interview about writing in general, my own writing specifically, and the novel I have had in progress cat-out-of-the-bagfor the past four years. The video should go online here in about a month. Until then, I can pretend it never happened. I can pretend that the cat is still in the bag, with a just a teeny hole in the side for air. Or not.

On the one hand, I understand that such communication is necessary and inevitable, especially as a newcomer and as someone from the margins, but that does not make any less excruciating the tension between the desire to connect (otherwise why bother writing at all) and the terror of said connection and of potential connectees.

One thing led to another, as it will, and today I came across a journal entry from the early days of planning a new work (which I mention towards the end of the above-mentioned interview as a possible next project once the novel is finished, even though I started it a couple of years before the novel). With the exception of a few parts that simply HAD to get blacked out, I thought it captured perfectly the before/during/and after of the creative process. Not much has changed since, except maybe I don’t journal much about writing anymore.

January 11, 2009

technically

technically

technically

technically

technically I could live on nine hundred dollars a month. Nine hundred and ninety, actually. But what kind of a life would that be? It would be a life of counting pennies, scarcity. I could live. Maybe even comfortably. But this feeling of shame would never go away. I would still be ashamed that I’m not trying hard enough. Trying hard enough to bring it up to at least [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED]. The high standard I had been living until very recently. The high standard during which it didn’t occur to me to set some aside. Well I did, then I indebted myself so I had to use what was set aside to get out of the indebtedness.

My toes are a little frozen. Just the tips of the toes.

I went for a walk. Not something I do very often. But today I couldn’t stay “cooped up” any longer (in the apartment) so I went to take a walk and came back in just as I was starting to feel the tips of my toes freeze up.

I can’t stop thinking about getting work. Any work. For the three months. Yet the act of looking for work depresses me. Ruins my mood. Makes me feel like a useless piece of shit taking up valuable space in space.

I don’t trust any of what I write down. Or any of what I think for that matter. It’s compost. Fertilizer. A dung heap of all the crap I have absorbed from my decade plus of being exposed to popular culture, etc. I don’t know which, if any, of it is original.

Is that my big theme? Originality, authenticity.

This thing of being the bohemian in the family, the artist, the odd one, etc. It’s not very much fun. It’s irritating. I want a wake-up-and-go-to-work-and-leave-at-the-end-of-the-day kind of gig. I want to feel like a member of humanity. Or so I think. What percentage of the world really has that life. Aren’t most of them just rotting away or just scraping it together anyway?

I don’t want to rot. Literally. This is why I would like to be cremated, because I can’t stand the thought of this flesh this form rotting and falling off in bits and pieces like it does on CSI, not to mention being eaten by maggots and smelling and what have you.

Sometimes, oftentimes, I wonder how I’m going to die. I always imagine being stabbed. Furiously, repeatedly. When I lie in bed to sleep I sense someone stabbing me to death, as if a ghost was actually doing it.

This is bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit.

I look for work that I don’t really want in order to avoid the work that I know I should be doing- writing.

I’m starting to feel miserable again. I was feeling good the past few days.

She said she cries every week. She crawled under a blanket with her clothes still on and without even bothering with the lights and she said she tries to please everyone and ends up disappointing everyone. That and the things the evil woman did to her. She broke my heart and for the first time I saw the wounded little girl.

Only wounded little girls can see other wounded little girls.

Is there a special condition anymore? A special condition that only one or a few people feel that most of humanity cannot relate to? Wasn’t everyone a wounded little girl or wounded little boy at some point? Or in their own eyes?

What is the point and purpose of this WRITING I feel so responsible for doing? What the hell story am I going to tell that’s going to be so earth-shattering? What’s to say it won’t be mediocre like everything else out there?

Authenticity. Originality. True-ness. Owning. Mine. Right.

“one thing I know for sure” oprah likes to say. Well one thing I know for sure is that I’m a mishmash. I don’t know if I’ve ever decided anything.

Oh fuck get the hell over yourself.

I envy those with blind faith in themselves. Or deluded faith. Or whatever kind of faith. Those that pursue things and get themselves involved in things without much self-evaluation. Those that look in the mirror only for the purposes that the mirror was intended for: to make sure their tops are on top and their bottoms are on the bottom, that everything is approximately as/where it should be and they can go on out on to the street. Those that don’t expect the mirror to perform magic tricks, or to be their best friend, or to disappear. Those that can’t possibly imagine why someone wouldn’t be interested in what they have to say, what they have to show, to present, etc.

Sometimes I want to start all over again…god I’m tired of whining…who hasn’t wanted to start over or jump ahead?!!! How many stores have been written about that? How many people have imagined that?

What’s still new?

What’s still fresh?

What’s still unheard of?

What’s still a surprise?

Who’s happy?

I am fucking stuck I am fucking bored.

I’ve even lost my appetite. That’s new. That’s a new development. Eating. Food. That was always the refuge. Go out and grab Chinese enough to feed three or four people. Back in the day I could eat it all. Now I can save some for the next day. Now I don’t even want it anymore. The futility of just about everything is becoming more and more obvious and the despair that is causing is bottomless. In despair. I am in despair. I am laughing at my own melodrama.

“choose to be happy” some other actress said she decided at one point that she can make that decision. I guess that’s true.

Another warm body would be nice. Real nice. I’m beginning to think I’m missing that programming though, or it malfunctioned at some point and I didn’t notice it.

Ugly. Feeling really ugly.

Meditation was supposed to help. And it does. But then I think who am I kidding?

Who am I kidding?

What do I think I am?

Who do I think I am?

This is all the result of having way too much time in my hands. I want to be so busy with meaningless shit that I can’t bother with meaning anymore, thinking and thinking my way into a bottomless despair. For example, I was going to say “the aforementioned bottomless pit of despair” but I knew that was false, I knew that was going to be influenced by the way someone phrased something I read some time back.

If there were more than one of me. Not parallel universe shit. Just several of me at the same time in the same time. Ugh. That’s been done too.

There are two stories I am interested in telling at this point. After that I probably have nothing more.

The story of the girl missing the shirt and the girl that got the shirt. Their meeting. Death. War. Poverty. And secondhand clothes.

The ordeal of being supposed to marry. The ordeal of finding someone from your “people” to relate to enough to marry. How tricky that can be when you can’t stand [REDACTED] [REDACTED].

I am very well aware that I could be far more successful than I am at this point in my so-called career, so-called life. The only one that didn’t snap out of it early enough to start making that happen is me. I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking through most of my days. What’s worse, I feel like I still haven’t woken up. What’s worse, I feel like I probably never will fully wake up. What’s worse, it’s not a feeling, it’s a certain certitude (ugh) certainty certain knowledge I have on some very sure level of my soul. Some part of me was put to sleep through no fucking fault of my own and it will never wake up. I feel a larger and large part of me falling asleep the older I get and it is as if I can’t stop it I don’t want to stop it or I don’t know how to stop it. Less than a decade ago I had this optimism this innocence this sense of purpose that was so sweet in its idealism and I don’t know what happened but I can’t even pull together a pretense of that same thing anymore. Cynical? I’ve become cynical?

I’m really getting fed up with my own bullshit. My blablabla.

I just want to write this godddamn fucking stories but it’s like they’re frozen up and there’s this clutter this tonnage of shit in my head and I can’t get to the stuff I want to do because all the garbage is taking up my energy.

I don’t know how people do the things they do anymore. The mundane shit to which they attach so much importance. To which they attach their names and identities and copyrights and claims and signatures and for which they charge money or admission or privilege or expose to say ‘hey this is me I did this thing and you should give it your attention because it’s good’. Really? Where do they find that sense of being a-ok.

God I hate everything I write. I hate just about every word or phrase I choose to use. I hate even the thoughts I am expressing. The thoughts. The words they come in. the phrases they come in. the time they come in.

Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate.

I am alone I hate being alone I hate it. The advantage of having people around you almost all the time is that it saves you from having to be with yourself with your thoughts with your everything. And what’s worse is that I made it all silent around me too so that I don’t even have the noise to distract me. So not only do I have a lot of time to myself but I also have this time by myself and I also have all this time by myself in almost complete silence. Is it any wonder then that I am going crazy a little bit at a time.

There was hope the other day though. There was hope in the form of one sentence towards my next play, or what I think is supposed to be my next play. It’s about love. Love love love. Love from my perspective. I actually get a little excited to express that. An Ethio-style exploration of love from a loveless one.

It’s supposed to start something like this:

In the old days…

Or,

In the old country…

Or something like that, for now I will go with the second phrase

In the old country love came four ways.

I like that phrase love came too.

Maybe that should be that title Love Came

Kind of a play on “game” > “came” hahaha

Ok so we start off with In the old country love came four ways.

Then…I got nothing, I’m going to figure it out as I go. Might as well keep going now because I’m truly tired of my own bullshit.

In the old country love came four ways. The bati kind of love, the ambasel kind of love, the anchi hoye kind of love and the tzta kind of love. Most likely you don’t know what any of these mean. But you don’t know what love means either, most likely. So it might as well all be in a foreign language right? The bati kind of love made people (and here I would explain what Bati refers to) the anchi hoy kind of love made people (what anchi hoy(e) refers to) the ambasel kind of love (what ambasel refers to) the tzta kind of love (what tzta refers to) I myself don’t even know the distinction between these. Except maybe the fact that they refer to different regions of the place that they originate from. So love came from Ethiopia. Might the first sentence better be Love came in the old country four ways. That’s also interesting. Love came in the old country four ways. Hmmmm. Liking that.

Working on this is far more pleasurable than bitching about a million things and nothings.

Ok going to look up what these four kinds mean. If lucky.

Starting with tzta:

– one fellow says “tizita and love is not completely similar…God has plan” (not sure if those thoughts are supposed to be related or not) actually that is a good point. Tzta is a type of love, it’s not love itself. It’s one of the Ethio brandings of love.

– for me it means reminiscence, or nostalgia, for a time gone by. In any case it definitely has an element of the bittersweet/melancholy about it. Either that which is lost and can never be regained or that which can never be gained/is out of reach to begin with. It suggests depression.

– look for clues in song lyrics (aster, mahamoud, bezawerk) Ethiopiques 10

– other translations offered: memories, longing, “embodies the nostalgic spirit of the Ethiopian soul”, reflective nostalgia, a bittersweet longing for the past, key to Ethiopian identity, melancholy longing

– the fact that many perform it but few are able to catch the essence of its soul

– it’s not specific to love, you can have tzta about anything, although it’s primarily associated with love

– “every Ethiopian knew tezzeta, a sentimental choice with its words of love…I thought of the many different times and places that I had heard the song-played by an azmari in Gondar, arranged for saxophone and keybord at the Addis Ababa Hilton, sung by well-known singers over the radio. The song for me had come to symbolize the essence of Ethiopia…”

tzta

tizita

tezeta

tizzita

tezzeta

I’m stuck all this web research on tzta has frozen my brain and I’m afraid of not finding anything on the topic of the other song styles

And it stops there. The rest of the document is research notes that will come in handy, if/when I get around to this project. I can’t remember if I journaled during the early days of the novel. If I did, and if the journal entry wasn’t too excruciating, maybe I’ll bare that on here for posterity too.

Cats all over the place.tumblr_mwndagtu5I1t10gp8o1_500

One thought on “A Peek Under the Bandage

  1. Pingback: Inside the Vase: an interview about writing | Diaspora

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