marisomarisolmarisolmarisolmarisolI hate it when the words don't come. You send out the psychic invitations and patiently wait in front of a desperate white page. You sit with a cup of coffee. A goblet of wine. A large martini. You light a candle, burn some incense, light a smoke, put your hair up. You wait. And wait. And wait. And the words don't come.
You get up, pace the room, open the window, turn on Air America, turn on some music, feed the cat, eat a cracker. You sit down again. And still the words don't come.
You adjust the margins. Try a new font like Verdana or Minstrel. You wait. You open a window for a game of Solitaire of Free Cell. Play an illegally downloaded mp3. You try to make the words come. Thinking that even bad words are better than no words, you start to type. You type your name over and over and over. You see if there is a synonym for your name in the Word 2003 thesauras. No synonyms. No words.
Last night, Patrick and I went to see Leonard Lopate broadcast his radio show from the Titus theatre at the shiny new MoMA. I love Leonard and I hope I attain some sort of relevancy in New York culture someday and get to be interviewed by him. The theme of the program was "collaborations" and one of the collaborative teams he interviewed are the screenwriters (and married couple): Tamara Jenkins and Jim Taylor. Jenkins is the writer and director of Slums of Beverly Hills and Taylor is a collaborator with writer-director Alexander Payne. They co-authored last year's little film with a big heart, Sideways.
Jenkins talked about how living with a writer could be really difficult for anyone, writer or not. There is a certain amount of whining and self-loathing that you experience when your work is to mine the human condition for interesting stories and then to find interesting and original ways to express them. I can't speak of all writers, but for me, it is very difficult to define exactly how the writing process works. It is even harder to predict when it will work.
People who know that I try to confine my work week at Florent to three or four days think that I must lead a charmed life. And I do to a certain extent. But, on those days "off" I am certainly not laying around on silk cushions and eating bonbons. I spend a lot of time researching publications that might accept something that I have written (or am writing). Usually, these jobs are non-paying. I spend time revising and editing things that I have written and I spend time starting new writing projects. And some days I sit in front of a blank screen and feel immensely sad. I realize the state of the world and the tragedy of human suffering across this planet. My sorrows are miniscule in comparison to, say, a woman my age in Sudan or Iraq. I realize this and I realize that it is also completely valid to be sad for a future that appears to me as only an endlessly blank white page.