The Universe Sends Me a Strange Sign

Today I got a press release about the five Tennessee sites added to the National Register of Historic Places. Site #1?

Allendale Farm.

One of the Allens to own the house?

George.

They’re not my Allens, who are from Maryland and Virginia before arriving in Sumner County. These Allens are from North Carolina and then settled in Montgomery County (I’ve run into some Allens in Cheatham County and I suspect they’re these folks, as well).

So, it didn’t give me the full-on heebie jeebies. But it definitely gave me at least the heebies.

(I’m bummed the OED doesn’t have an etymology for ‘heebie-jeebies.’)

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Mother

I’m spending my lunch hour being a baby AND listening to Natalie Maines’ new album (I put the “and” in all caps because those are two separate tasks that aren’t related). Nothing will aid my babydom, but time. I have mixed feelings about Maines’ album. I’ve really missed her voice. It still sounds pretty damn country to me. But I feel like her voice is too far forward in the mix–at least on these speakers–so I can’t quite not hear that she’s not in the same room as the instruments at the same time.

But so far–and I’m not yet all the way through them–I just feel like these are the wrong songs. I can’t quite explain it. They’re great songs. But it’s not quite working. It just sounds old, somehow.

I Lived My Life Wrong

I’m kind of a coward, so I don’t often fail at things. In my whole life, I either did things I knew I was good at or I didn’t care about being good at or I didn’t do them. I really wanted to play football in high school, for instance, but when people told me I was going to suck at it, I believed them. And, you know, as a coward, I would have sucked at football.

But the school I finished high school at? Their team hadn’t won a game–not a single game–in decades. I would not have sucked worse than that! (Though I should say that, in the two years I was there, they did win some games and conducted themselves in a pleasantly mediocre manner on the field.)

Anyway, I don’t really regret not playing football. I’m just saying, I’m not someone who puts themselves on the line about things she might not be good at.

So this whole fiction writing thing just fucking sucks. I have to do it. Nothing at all makes me happier (except my dog and she’s been eating the cat poop lately and giving herself the shits). I feel like I have the brains and credentials to say “Yep, this sucks. Here’s how it should be better.” or “No, hey, this is really good. Someone will want it.”

But I don’t.

And the weird part is that it’s not even depressing. Like two years ago, it was kind of depressing. Now it’s just like “Well, on to the next thing.” Because there is no choice.

And the other thing is that I probably do have to suck for a while–possibly a long while–but I am not sure I’ll ever know when or if I stop sucking.

It’s just fucking ludicrous. I do this thing I love with no clue as to whether I’m good at it in any marketable way, no idea how to improve that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars and involve taking massive amounts of time off work that I just can’t do, at least, not for four or five more years.

And yet, I keep on keeping on. Just because I like it. Even though I suspect I suck at it.

Anyway, “Allendale” revisions. I have a rough draft of the revised part–the footnotes. I guess it’s not ruining it to tell you. The footnotes are written by poor George’s niece who has just discovered that he’s not in prison for Elias’s murder, but in a secure hospital, where she can go visit him. He was unable to aid in his defense because he believes his “life” since the night of Elias’s death is actually just an illusion implanted in him by the werewolf as it kills him in the basement alongside Elias, to keep him calm. His niece mostly believes he is a killer. And then he’s a ghost, the end.

Is it any good? Who the fuck knows?

Lord. What if “Frank” is the best thing I ever do?

Well, I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

And, really, it’s not even that I think I suck. I guess if I am honest, I think I write really well, things I enjoy reading. I struggle with figuring out how to improve things. I’m pretty terrible at that.

But the thing I suck at–and this is an objective sucking–is figuring out how to sell them. I don’t know what kind of writer I am. I don’t know how to look at a story and say “Yep, fantasy” or “this is horror.” I don’t know how, even when I read widely–and I read widely–which markets might want which of my stories.

And I don’t know how to feel assured, if they turn me down, that it’s because it just didn’t fit and not because the story needed something a little more.

I suck at the match game aspect of it. But since I don’t know how to improve at that, I fret over my work, like that’s the problem.

Everything’s a fucking knot, I tell you. This anxiety tangled with that anxiety wrapped around this fear. Trying to keep everything smoothed out so that you can work with it is the hardest part.