Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Proving a Negative

So a moment ago I'm thinking fine proud strong thoughts like "start over" and "you can't break me" and about discovery of self and shadow light and dark and woo and woo and woo. and then I log in here, and watch the pigeons fly, leaving the square totally empty except for a few feathers falling from the sky.

Because no, I'm not a writer.

It's the same thing driving to work, thinking about this and that and how these things would make an excellent piece for seven hundred and fifty words, how I could probably get a whole string out of this and then I park the car and log in and sign in and the lights go out as soon as the screen comes up.

Because no, I'm not a writer.

And when I lost a day here I started over, and heaven only knows how many times in my life I started over. During the great collapse of ought whenever it was, where I lost two novels and all my short fiction to date, when I moved to Arizona and abandoned everything on my folks' computer (yes, Virginia, there once was a time, long long ago, when we did not have thumb drives, when the best we could do was floppy discs, and no, I didn't manage to keep everything up because my output was on several floppies. Hell, one of the books was too big for one floppy at the time.) and so I called it abandoned, and started over. Picked up my metaphorical pen and started over.

Because no, I'm not a writer.

I broke down a hell of a barrier a couple of years ago, and took the NaNoWriMo challenge in January to prove I couldn't write fifty thousand words of coherent fiction in thirty days. I was right, it took twenty five days to hit that mark. In March, I realized I had more of a trilogy on my hands. And in April, I stopped.

Because no, I'm not a writer.

In November I took up the official NaNoWriMo challenge and made it through by the skin of my teeth, sweating blood and pushing hard. Most of the novel was plotted during a two-hour lunch break where I scribbled and scribbled and banged on the keys like a madwoman. Then I expanded on my notes, blowing up the scenes like a wading pool, huffing and puffing and blue in the face. Then I stopped in January.

Because no, I'm not a writer.

I've published short stories. I've published poetry. For actual money and copies of the book, not through Lulu, or by vanity press where you plunk down an "entry fee" of fifty bucks per poem or article and hope to get a copy of the magazine when you're done. The only rejection slips I have ever received were from the high school literary magazine, which was just as much popularity contest as anything else. Three-quarters of the one I submitted to concerned a girl in the second-tier clique who died in a car wreck. It was full of acrostics and haiku, brimming with images of flowers picked just as they came to blossom, and wilting in a glass vase unopened, and the ineffable sadness and grief that can only be explained in poorly rhymed iambic tetrameter.

See? Clearly, I'm not a writer.

I reach out to define what and who I think a writer is. If I can see more clearly what it is that I am not, then perhaps I can pick up the pieces and incorporate what I need to own this piece. But I feel like I'm stuck trying to prove a negative, which any elementary logician will advise against. It's catching soap bubbles, watching the rainbow spill over your outstretched hand. The easy part is getting to the rainbow, eh?

And if I were a writer, I might be able to find the language to make you understand that.

But no, I'm not a writer.