Friday, September 30, 2011

Foray into the Normal

The morning of my 30th birthday, I arose and announced that I was buying myself a guitar. That afternoon, after five rounds of "Time of Your Life", which my sister had taught me a few months before, I decided to teach myself a new song. I settled on "American Pie". Of the ten or so chords it involved, I was familiar with three. I did not balk at this calculation. Not normal. But really, it was a simple matter of check chord chart, arrange fingers, strum and sing, check chord chart, arrange fingers, strum and sing and bada-bing-bada-boom, twenty minutes later, I had sung my way through the first verse. I felt like a rock star. A folk rock star. A geriatric folk rock star, but a rock star nonetheless. But see, then I put the guitar away and went back to my day job.

Not so with another whim I once had, one that has turned my life upside down, inside out, and half-way right side up again.

One day, while looking for a painting class in the Adult Ed catalog I came upon Intro to Fiction. I need to take a moment to ponder what would have happened if the catalog hadn't been arranged alphabetically. Meh. So, three weeks into the class, we did a timed writing exercise: ten minutes on X subject, go. A scene came to me that I couldn't stop thinking about, or writing about. Nine months later, I had a novel. Three years later, I quit my job to write the novel full time. Not normal.

The problem is, that's all I have. This one novel.

Recently, I've been freaking out because other writers seem to have short stories, poems, essays to their names. The other problem, the real one, is I don't care. I really really wanted to learn "American Pie", and I did. I can now play verse one in twelve minutes, eight if I forsake exact chords for a good foot-stomping beat. And I really want to write this novel.

My new plan for it, one that I think may help me reach the end (not The End- that's been reached several times with varying degrees of Bollywood Kitsch/Melodrama/Passable but not Perfect- but completion). It's what Anne Lamott says in her book, Bird by Bird: when you're feeling overwhelmed, look through a one inch frame. Write what you see there. It's been working like a dream. Well, a nightmarish dream, since it means working brilliantly but sloooowly, section by painstaking section, completion pushed somewhere beyond 2020. Still don't care.

In a further attempt at normalcy, I've decided to apply this plan to this blog. Because like everything else in my life, I was complicating it. Yes, Phiroozeh Romer can complicate blogging, which by definition is quick and easy, a mind spill, really. So no more two hour entries, no more faux poetic blurbs, from now on, I'm going to be normal. I'm going to write, in a few lines, something about my writing. Like my (newly published) friend, Annam Manthiram.

Here's to being normal like everyone else.


  1. "The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well."
    ~Alfred Adler

  2. hi darling! no one is really normal... i love who you are and if your one inch frame is as golden as i think, it's perfect and the magic bullet! let us take all the pressure of life off our shoulders, cuz i am feeling it too!!! xoxoxo