I always hate dealing with the postpartum depression that follows writing a book. I’m finding it’s even worse when I don’t immediately publish the book and get it out of my hair. I’m currently waiting for someone else to go through it, and I want to just rip it off like a band-aid on a hairy arm and be done with it, move on to the next thing. I’m never happy with a book right after I finish it, and I’ve found the best way to deal with that is to really finish it, publish it and close the door on it, or I’ll pick at it forever.
I got this thing that’s a complete mirror of wikipedia on a little handheld computer thing that’s about as big as one of those light-up coaster things they hand you at a restaurant to page you when your table is ready. It has a touchscreen and a couple of buttons on it, and probably runs some embedded linux thing on a low-powered system-on-a-chip that can run forever on a pair of AAA batteries. It uses a micro-SD card to hold the entire wikipedia, which means it can be updated and allegedly hacked to work as a cheapie book reader. I think it cost 20 dollars. I don’t know why I bought it, but it has a “random” button, and I could spend hours hitting that button over and over, reading about Frank X. Schwarb, the mayor of Buffalo, New York from 1922-1929, or the Inner Dominion harness racing competition in Australia and New Zealand or Sergio Salvati, the cinematographer who used to work with Lucio Fulci. It’s an interesting distraction.
I saw a friend of mine this weekend who I have not seen in 24 years. She moved here in 2011, but we kept playing email tag, because I never leave the house, and driving down to the peninsula is something I avoid, probably because I used to do it ever day. This is someone who was a good confidante back in high school, and I probably drove her nuts with all of my depressing tirades about whatever I was depressed about back in 1988. It’s strange to see someone after such a long gap now, after we’ve both become adults (well, me only sort of) and we’ve missed those huge chunks of life between 18 and 42. And there’s a time when I relished swapping tales about who ended up where and who is still stuck in Elkhart and who’s in prison and all of that, but I keep up with that stuff less and less, and feel sort of stupid for even keeping track of most of it.
I also sometimes feel very self-conscious when I catch up with people, because that whole exercise of summing up your life in the last decade or two and trying to make yourself not sound like an idiot and not appear to be an egotistical asshole is a difficult task. I mean, I enjoyed talking to her, and liked meeting her husband and kid and seeing her house and all of that. It was good to catch up and we had a good evening together. But I always find myself wondering if I’m trying to project some kind of fake persona or if I’m going to say something stupid or fixate on some part of the past that the other person wants no part of. Maybe I think about this too much.
This is related to a thought I had recently about writer’s block. I recently outlined a book I’d like to write, spent a lot of time with post-it notes and got it all typed into Scrivener, but then couldn’t really get started with the actual writing. A big part of that was that the writing wasn’t entirely in my voice; it’s an attempt to read a little big beyond my wheelhouse, and the thinking involved in writing like that made me hesitant to actually get the words down on the paper. It reminded me of when I used to have these bad first dates, and I’d spend the whole time in my head trying to act like the person that the other person wanted to date, so they would like me. And I’d second-guess everything I said, wondering if it was the “right” thing. And I’d always fail miserably. I think writing is a lot like that, because the best first dates I ever had were the ones where I honestly did not give a fuck what the person thought about me, and I just acted naturally. I think the best writing I ever do is also when I don’t think about it, and just let the words flow. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but it’s what works.
Speaking of, I should go do some actual writing.