And Yet, The Pear is Going to Live Another Year

The cedar is slowly dying in the yard. It’s kind of depressing to watch it go limp. It’s hard for me to believe that trees don’t have some kind of… supernatural oomph, you know? Obviously not a consciousness, maybe not quite what we’d recognize as a soul, but in those moments when you turn your face to the sun and you notice all of the plants have turned their blooms to the sun as well, how can you not feel some ancient almost-unbridgeable kinship?

That energy that makes them alive is the same energy that makes us alive. And so I hope the tree isn’t suffering. Though, really, how could it suffer? Ugh, it’s the problem with being human. You anthropomorphize things and then you fret over your metaphor like it’s the truth.

But that ancient, too-tall pear is putting on leaves again. I really thought last year might be it for it, since we didn’t see it fruit up. I remember when we came to the house, either just after we put in an offer or just after we bought it. But when we knew the house was going to be ours. Kathy was with us, so it might have even been on final walk-through.

And there was one pear on that tree, down low enough that we could get at it, and Kathy picked it and handed it to me and it was delicious. It tasted like magic.

I’m going to say something I’ve probably said before, but today it is just as true. Writing is a weird thing. In order to even do it, you have to develop this kind of “Fuck it, I’m going to do it” attitude and sometimes the “fuck it” part is the same “fuck it” you feel when you could go into work, but the weather is beautiful and your friend has just pulled up in a convertible and asks if you want to drive to Memphis. And sometimes the “fuck it” is harder, is like a shield you put in front of you to push on through.

There are a lot of people you talk about your writing with and you just have to learn how to be like “fuck it, I know what I’m doing,” in the face of their doubts or their weirdness about it.

But then you get to a stage where you really need other people to look at your work, to see for you what you can’t see must still be done. My advice to you, if you are like me, is ask enough people that your “fuck it” mechanism doesn’t work. Like my lovely novel. I’ve now heard from enough people that they don’t quite understand what’s going on in chapter 3 that I can’t just be like “fuck it! Clearly you’re an idiot. My real readers will be smart enough to get that.”

Not that I’ve said that to anybody, but, the first step is learning to tell that voice to shut up. The second is learning not to tip-toe back to that voice and say “Okay, just whisper quietly to me that I am right,” when you should be listening to what your readers are telling you.

And so, yes, something about the middle of my book is not quite right. Which is alarming. Like, seriously, if you could hear inside my head, it would sound like AAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAA.

But, in a way, it’s also comforting to have a bunch of people point out the same moments where they’re not quite sure what it happening or why. It makes me feel like the problems are obvious and thus, fixable.

Not that I have started fixing them.

Oh, no. Ha ha ha. I’m nibbling around the edges, fixing the things people said that I was like “Oh, duh, I never do tell you what she looks like” or whatever.

So, I’m a little worried. But also excited. I don’t know if I can do this, but I’m excited to try. And, finally, I feel like I’m getting a sense of my weaknesses as a writer, which is good,  because it’s helping me see where the work must be done.

I don’t know how long this next part will take. I think I’ll end up with a longer book. I think I may even be missing a scene in chapter 3, the more I think about it.

Anyway, this is a long digression when my initial thought was about how very lucky I am to have good, smart friends who are willing to read my work and help me make it better. It’s such a generous thing they do, even knowing me, which they do, and knowing that doing it means there’s going to be a moment when I’m all “fuck you, you’re wrong!”

I don’t know. That’s a pretty amazing thing to do for your friend and I’m lucky to have a lot of people in my life I can ask to do that for me.

I don’t really have anything profound to say about that. I’m very lucky. That’s all there is to it.

5 thoughts on “And Yet, The Pear is Going to Live Another Year

  1. FWIW I’m glad I never knew what she looked like. I noticed that right off but was glad for it and therefore thought it was purposeful. Kind of the same way that you never know the protagonist’s name in “Rebecca.” You get to make her look like whatever you want in your head.

  2. FWIW, I never noticed that I didn’t know what she looked like. Of course, I rarely carry pictures of characters I’m reading about around in my head, even when descriptions are provided. And not in the “oh, I didn’t notice that Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf” way. I remember all the markers; I just don’t have pictures to go with them.

  3. FWIW, I never noticed that I didn’t know what she looked like even though I sorta tried to picture her throughout the novel. I guess what I mean is that I didn’t mind not knowing.

  4. oh and I just need to point out that you’ve said some very nice things about yourself her, given how many of my pages you’ve written

  5. I just assumed she looked like you. Only blonde. I have no idea why the blonde thing…it was just there in my head. Prolly because I think of Hannah as a name for a fair skinned person, incongruously.

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