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.