Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I have a little shadow

Both my parents were twins. Does that make me a quadruple, I wonder? Though the twin gene has been lurking around in my family history for generations, it hasn't expressed itself in a while. It may well be lying in wait. Grandgirls, beware.

Writers endlessly agonize (OK, this writer endlessly agonizes) about their relationship to their work. Is it a calling, vocation, burden, endless battle, or what? When I try to tell people what I do, it's awkward. I've had every reaction from "nice hobby, but what do you do?" to "yeah, right" to "what did you say?". A few exclaim, "Ohhhhhhhhhh! How wonderful!", as if I work magic, and assuming I have J. K. Rowling's income.

It's not a proper thing to do, at all, and yet so many people seem to want to do it.

I can't remember a time when I didn't write, when I didn't have this shadow dragging after me - or, more accurately, casting cold darkness just ahead of me, chilling my path. Somebody inside has drawn the shades, it seems, and I don't know why.

Is there joy in what I do? That's almost like asking if sex is enjoyable. Well, yes. . . and no. Sex gives us the best and the worst experiences of life, and it's both blessing and burden, something we really can't escape. It masquerades as grotesque whoredom in the culture, and still splashes buckets of guilt on women (and Catholics - sorry, this is just what I see).

Yes, and lousy, schlocky, tawdry memoirs and cheap formula-driven fiction sell like mad, whereas. . . "other" books disappear in six months.

So what is my relationship to my work? (I'm running out of time here, as I want to go see that new Ben Affleck movie co-starring Jon Hamm, who is one of the reasons I go on living). I am beginning to see it as my twin. I've never had a twin, and envy those who do. Identical siblings share the mysterious bond of having hatched out of the same egg. Much of their genetic material is exactly alike, and studies of identical twins separated at birth yield astonishing results: both siblings marrying on the same day, marrying spouses with the same name or profession, owning the same kind of dog (with the same name), having the same address in different towns, and so on.

I don't have such a twin, and my relationship with my siblings long ago devolved into some sort of horror designed to do as much damage to me as possible. I put up with this abuse for so long that I can't keep quiet about it now.

I have this silent twin, except that she's very noisy and won't stop babbling Truth and stuff like that. It's tiresome sometimes, and other times exhilarating. I'm stuck with it, for sure. I can temporarily suppress her, but she pops out somewhere else. Why do I have such a negative relationship with her (or him - it could be either one)?

I brood constantly about whether or not my work will ever again see print. I write about this all the time, ad nauseam it seems. This blog was going to be about the Joys and Challenges of Writing, and instead it's a highly eccentric substitute diary, meandering from subject to subject: but descending into rant whenever the subject of my "vocation" comes up.
I've been down this road so many times, and I know I should just suck it up and be optimistic, because I know I've got the goods. I also know I have a lifelong history of being ignored.

This is when I sit with my twin, and she takes hold of my arm, and drags me back to work.