Thursday, February 06, 2014

Disaster Becomes Me

“We are dealing with someone with totally incoherent aspirations,” B, the prof at the helm of my nonfiction workshop summarized.

“I mean we’ve got art, and journalism, and the church, and all these resumes—it’s clearly a crisis.”

B had just finished reading aloud a disaster piece he found promising.  Unfortunately he doesn’t know the author—me—well enough yet to know that what he labeled “incoherent aspirations” was not a byproduct of disaster, but the stuff of my existence. 

Indeed, my prior nonfiction workshop prof had a similar assessment, although his words for the state of my prose were “needing focus.” Dan liked all of my pieces individually but baulked at the idea of they could become a manuscript.  He was always worried about them “holding together,” as though such a book would literally come unglued from its binding without a bigger show of stability from its author. There seemed to be an overall feel that humorous essays about the adventures of an Artistic Hypochondriac is just not cohesive enough.  Dan wanted me to present a unified identity in my work.  According to Dan, I could be an artist, a teacher, a journalist, hypochondriac, etc.—but not all those things.

The trouble is, I AM all of those things, at once, and I do aspire—to many things.  As implausible as it seems, this IS the story.  The good news is, B seems to like my persona within the context of disaster, so for now I’m just going to focus on being a disaster writer.  It sounds suspiciously like a coherent aspiration.

As a postscript (while we are on the topic of disaster, I am finally getting my car fixed!  Total price tag on scraping the side of a tiny green Spark along a concrete post? $2500--including the outright replacement of one of the doors.  But it looks like next week my car will go back to looking as good as the new car it is, courtesy of my insurance.  The downside? I've been avoiding gas stations ever since which led to my husband having to pour the contents of his can of lawn mower gas into my tank yesterday morning when I discovered that I didn't have enough to make it to work.  The last minute fill up caused me to be late for my 8 am class and teach the only 4 students left in the room.  Good times.

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