The hardest part of writing is the waiting.
It is about six in the morning (or it was, when I started writing this) and I couldn’t sleep. Last night Anna invited her workturks over (what a coinage, right?) and we had a party. If I drink, I tend to sleep badly. Eyetouch came over and it was the first time we’d seen him since the move out. I had to work through the party, so mostly it was me and eyetouch hanging out on the balcony while I edited pieces from Bugun. I said I wasn’t doing a very good job, and he said, “come on, man, you should really try to do a good job,” so I left the balcony and went into the chaos of the living room and worked from there.
About two days ago I finished a draft of the book. It made me exhausted and cranky and frustrated that it’s not better. I feel like I really, really pushed out the last section and did not enjoy it at all, nope nope not at all. not even a little bit. not one percent. not even a tiny smidgen of joy. which turns writing from one of the greatest jobs in the world into one of its most miserable.
I remember this one time, in college, I had this miserable miserable class with this fat preacher who seemed to be ferociously passionate about teaching, but nobody in his class had any idea what he was talking about. Really. We would all go there and for two hours, he would rant at us about what…see, I’m trying to come up with a funny example but I literally cannot remember a single thing from any of his lectures. Miraculous, really. His aura dispelled clear thinking like a jinx. His classes were all mandatory and if you missed a single class your final grade dropped a letter. The syllabus was eight fonts and three colors, and every available space on the sixteen pages or so it occupied was crammed, crammed with text of variable size. The class was called “contemporary ethical issues.” We had to take two theology classes and I hoped it would be painless, or at least topical. It was neither. It was super easy, I guess, since there was no homework, he never talked about the things we were supposed to have read, and the way he graded homework was as if the act of using the library printer was effort enough.
Sadly, I will always be one of those people who has difficulty in accepting an easy situation if it is really stupid. I argued with him in class, I challenged him on stuff, I even read the required books. okay, just one of them. Okay, just half of one. It was called “Mountains beyond mountains” and it was about how Dr. Paul Farmer saved everyone and was a better and more selfless human being than anyone will ever be ever, and I remember the class consensus was, “well then, why bother?” And yet. I still can’t remember the events of a single class. Anyways.
Our final paper for that class followed a ghastly rubric. He assigned a paper on a contemporary ethical issue, actually this is actually what he did I mean, the class was on contemporary ethical issues and in an entire semester he had not managed to get any more specific than “write a paper on a contemporary ethical issue.” Jesus. I keep getting sidetracked. I really hated this guy. We gathered around the rubric in shock. It was to have six or ten different sections with headlines and I think he even specified how large each headline was supposed to be. The rubric looked a lot like his syllabus. It was not an eyesore–it was a riot. It was a violence. It was as if the poor man had been trapped for decades on an island prison with a mad scheme to teach a class, and his only tool was a computer running windows 95. Though perplexed, most of the students were pretty happy it would be easy. It really did boil down to “write a paper on a contemporary ethical issue.”
I procrastinated hard on that paper. I built up a good healthy resentment towards the professor and everything he represented, and that he wouldn’t recognize cool writing if it killed him. I now sort of retrospectively wonder what made him that way–maybe he’d had a lot of really poorly written essays in the past, and his solution to that was an enormous amount of structure. I have no idea. He might just have been ferociously, passionately stupid. The paper was due at midnight on X day of November, and I waited until 8pm on day X-1, four hours before it was supposed to be submitted to his turnitin box, to begin.
Now THAT, that was an excruciating writing process. I had to keen and curve myself into that rubric, breaking off sentences at jagged odds, stuffing paragraphs onto pages they didn’t belong. It was excruciating. I tore the wires out from an ethics essay I’d written for a philosophy class last semester, and jury-rigged it into this final. It may have been about abortion. Can’t remember. It was awful.
Two weeks later, when we all got our papers back, he made a big point of waving everyone’s papers in the air to comment how exemplary they all were. Individually. Like “Mackenzie, where are you, Mackenzie, and exemplary paper, class, on _________(mind goes blank here, sorry).” He said my paper was exemplary, and also said I should consider getting it published it was so good. I also got a B-. Nothing made sense. I asked kenzie about it later on in the year, and she said, “oh, yeah, I took my second theology with him too.”
“Why??” I said.
“I mean it was easy and he likes me, so it’s a guaranteed A for no work or thinking.” Which is hard to argue with.
This is a very long essay to say more or less that the book’s draft is done and to tear it outside of myself was excruciating, too. Writing a book is great, the idea of it even, but finishing a book is punishment, and setting deadlines is horrible, and I’m a sack of shit, and everything sucks, and poop for Christmas. And now is the waiting. My new friend Jon (who is Alex’s friend, originally) agreed to edit the book and Laura said she’d take a look too, so we wait and see what they have to say. Waiting. And soon we too shall tear the wires from this draft and make something better.