I’m on the verge.
Yes, on the verge of something brilliant.
Wait for it….
Okay, so maybe “verge” is too literal.
I’m on the verge of the verge of something brilliant.
I’ve just had a birthday, and am now officially too old to be deemed a wunderkind. Fine, I can live with that. I started reading when I was three, bitches. But I’d be lying if I said that this merely mortal coil feels, well, very tightly wound.
When I was a kid, I dreamt of writing The Great American Novel. Something Steinbeck-ian. Vonnegut-ian. Joseph Heller-ian.
Wow. Some names just don’t lend themselves to being -ian.
Anyhoo, I’ve never lost my love of writing, but nowadays, just a blog post can feel like an impossible muscle flex. Not all the time…sometimes the words pour from my bedside carafe of language like so much sparkling water. Other times, I slump at the keyboard, grunting. Which is why I admire my writer friends so profoundly. Some of them have actually figured out a way to make the words go. I’m sure it can be a hellish struggle at times (maybe all the times) but they’re doing it. There’s proof: hit TV shows, novels, published essays in erudite magazines.
I have a favorite book – it’s called Being With Children and it’s by the wonderful Phillip Lopate. In it, he chronicles some of his time spent working in a NYC public school teaching kids how to love writing. I re-read it periodically, and each time, I get lost in it. Each time, I imagine what it would be like to be a kid given that much power. Just thinking of it gives me the willies. His portraits of these kids are vivid, graphic, constantly in motion and effortlessly specific.
As an actor, generality is often the kiss of death. It prances around, masquerading as popularity, but really, it’s just good old laziness. I remember in grad school, teaching an Acting 101 class at 9 am in the morning.
(C teases me about always saying, redundantly, nine AM in the MORNING, but I’m all about emphasis, and saying it that way really helps.)
So at 9 am in the morning, my students would drag into class and we’d engage in the theatrical arts. And if specificity was ever at a premium, it was in college, in the morning. And yet, I’d watch how, after some vigorous warm-ups and a lot of me galloping around, these students would emerge from their semi-conscious cocoons and begin to notice the difference between waving at someone they know, and waving at someone they think they know, only to realize it’s actually a perfect stranger. And how, when you rub your eyes and get down to it, working for specificity is like getting your hair brushed. It’s goddamned satisfying. It’s a way of saying, this is worth it. This is worth paying attention to.
Is it strange that I feel like I can hear the distant but steady countdown to my next birthday?
Maybe this is the year of The Great American Blog Post.
Over and out.