Sunday, September 20, 2015

Flash Fiction Fail, Brown Boots Win, Worry Champ

This week, I’ve been working on a flash fiction piece with a remarkable lack of success, and ruminating on the possibility of starting my own online literary magazine. It feels deeply unsettling to be in between writing projects. I keep waiting for an idea to grab me by the heart and not let go. I miss the feeling of being creatively consumed by an imaginary world of my own making. But nothing is coming to me, and that makes me feel empty and bereft. I don’t know if I should keep waiting, or just push something out through sheer force of will--although that isn’t working so well with my flash fiction story. Intensifying the situation, I had a bad bout of insomnia all this week, and I've been fighting off a quasi-cold/sinus infection. Since I started working in a hospital, I never get fully sick anymore—I just get these annoying “shadow illnesses” that hang around forever and slow me down, but aren’t bad enough to afford me the luxury of taking an actual sick day.

In spite of all of this, I braved the weekend crowds today and went shopping for some boots--so I have a pair of lovely brown leather boots now! It finally feels like Fall. All I need is a good Pumpkin Spice latte and a cozy brown sweater to round out the tableau. But the point is, obtaining boots means that I can finally wear my long velvet crinkle skirts again. See, I have these two long velvet crinkle skirts, one in olive and one in brown, which are so old they could rightly be called vintage. I’ve hung onto them over all of these years because no one makes velvet crinkle skirts anymore, which I find disappointing. And they are the closest I can get to wearing an actual dress, ever since the dress trend has moved permanently to that “chopped off at the chest” look, where they wrap a thick sash under the breast, and cut the dress off well above the knee, making tall women like me look either pregnant or oddly deformed.

I recently came across the quote, “Worry is a misuse of imagination”, and its twin, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”  As a copious worrier, I call B.S. on both of these quotes. I’m firm believer in the power of worrying. Worrying is important and useful. I have an unshakable superstition that future situations need attention, and worry acts as a ward against those situations going wrong. Worrying is similar to paying your respects, or leaving an offering to the gods. It’s a discipline and a magic trick all rolled into one. And I’m really, really good at it. So all of you happy-go-lucky, “it will all work out” hippy-dippy types may be having a great time now, but just you wait. Your lack of consternation about future imaginary catastrophes is going to be your downfall in the end. Meanwhile, I’ll keep furrowing my brow and envisioning everything that could possibly go wrong as I writhe in my own sweat at night, staring at the clock and losing sleep. It’s all worth it! 


Frank Moraes said...

I have several abandoned novels that I am willing to gift you. Perhaps "gift" is the wrong word. Torture? I had been looking for someone to collaborate with me on a play. But there are several problems. First, I know you are so done with plays. Second, my writing partners quickly develop fantasies about killing me with a polo mallet. And third, I just don't have the time right now. But I assure you, it's brilliant: Christopher Marlowe meets Edward Albee.

Ah yes: worrying! I'm with you: I'm great at worrying and I have no intention of giving it up. What's more, when I've thought about it really seriously, I have concluded that my worrying is the only reason that I'm still alive. And when you look into that clock at night, just imagine that it was built by Ahmed Mohamed and might actually be a bomb!

Kristen McHenry said...

I am not at all "so done with plays" and I'm dying for a project, so when you get time, bring it on! We're geographically separated, so it's unlikely that I'll mallet-murder you. (But you never know.) I, too, believe that worrying has saved my butt. I just wish that I could expend a little less energy on it and still feel safe.