I am in England. OMG!!!
I am obviously really excited and happy to be here in the good old UK. It’s a good feeling. I love my flat and its convenient location close to the university (I still wanna get a bike, though: 5 minute bike ride vs. 15 minute walk? BIKE FTW). So far I am digging my housemates, both guys in law school, one from China and the other from Taiwan. One of them just came in and gave me a present–a Beijing Olympics key chain!! AWWW! They’re both leaving in the next two days to go traveling for the next week, which doesn’t bother me at all. Sometimes it boggles my mind to think about how I almost prefer being by myself these days–I’m just so used to it. That being said, I know that I’m a very social person and that it’s fairly easy for me to make friends, which is why I’m not freaking out about having so much time by myself before the rest of the peeps in my program get here.
Ahhh!!! England!!!! Of course the very first thing I unpacked were my books (I packed too many, as per usual). I just had the best time this morning, walking around campus (I didn’t even mind being lost!), wandering into the bookstore and fingering all the titles, lovingly fondling all the second-hand books on sale on the tables outside (the man in charge said he comes by Monday and Thursday, reminding me of that old dude I bought Howl from in front of the Paradox coffee shop back at Reed). I came thisclose to buying the new Ali Smith novel, The Tin Drum, Underworld and Wise Children (all books I’ve been meaning to read for aaaaages), but I stopped myself because I felt guilty about spending the money. To be honest it probably would have only ended up being ten pounds, which is likely less than what my movie ticket will be tomorrow if I decide to go see Anna Karenina. Whatever, he’ll be back on Monday.
I also did some work today. It is SO HARD when I edit my fiction to not be aware of its flaws, how juvenile and developing my voice still sounds to me. I still don’t sound like a “polished” writer to myself, like Jonathan Franzen or even Bolaño or whatever, in which every word in the story is filled with purpose and drive and meaning and everything is just tauntly woven together and seemingly fits perfectly together. BUT WHATEVER!! I am just trying to remember the words that Goenka kept repeating over and over again at the meditation retreat, in his old man Indian accent: paaaatiently but persistently, patiently but persistently. You are bound to be successful, bound to be successful.
So this is just to say that I DON’T GIVE A FLYING **** IF MY STORIES KIND OF SUCK!!!!!! Because a) they are actually probably not as bad as I think they are (HELLO PERFECTIONIST VIRGO BRAIN), and b) I CAN ONLY GET “BETTER” (whatever THAT means) THROUGH TIME AND PRACTICE. Which is what I want to get out of this year. A lot of time and a lot of practice. Which is why I furiously wrote + edited all evening like a demon, like my life depended on it, because in a way, it kind of does. It made me feel like that character in the last paragraph of the “Out of Body” chapter in A Visit From the Goon Squad, the paragraph that made me want to read the rest of the book when I first read it in Tin House:
“You kneel beside her, breathing the familiar smell of Sasha’s sleep, whispering into her ear some mix of I’m sorry and I believe in you and I’ll always be near you, protecting you, and I will never leave you, I’ll be curled around your heart the rest of your life, until the water pressing my shoulders and chest crushes me awake and I hear Sasha screaming into my face: Fight! Fight! Fight!”
I also want to remember the advice that the University of Texas-San Marcos creative writing professor gave me, one of my co-workers at Berkeley this summer: “Submit things that you think kind of suck.” Truer words never spoken.
So I believe in myself. WATCH OUT ENGLAND, I’M GONNA KICK SOME ASS. I think maybe that’s why I’ve been so obsessed with Kanye West’s and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne lately. I told my sister earlier today that when I hear their songs, I like to pretend that it’s my self-esteem talking, giving me a much-needed boost and FIGHT-FIGHT-FIGHT mentality:
Select best quotes for self-esteem boosting include the following:
– I GUESS I GOT MY SWAGGER BACK!
– Photo shoot fresh, looking like wealth, I’m ’bout to call the paparazzi on myself!
– Everything’s for sale, I got 5 passports I’m never going to jail!!!
– Lord, please let them accept the things they can’t change, and pray that all of their pain be champagne.
That’s enough for now. I’ll end with a quote from Onetti:
Escribirá porque sí, porque no tendrá más remedio que hacerlo, porque es su vicio, su pasión y su desgracia. / A writer will write just because; because he or she has no other option; because it’s their vice, their passion and their misfortune.