Sunday, May 14, 2006


If I could be Shakespeare, I would write a tell-all autobiography about who I really was and how I created the voluminous work I did. Inspired by love? By greed? By my own perfectionist heart? Did I work alone? Did I steal images like critic's accolades? I would "wear the brave state out of memory" (Sonnet XV), and reveal all.

If I could be Louise Erdrich, I would write the sequel to A Blue Jay's Dance about life with older children. With the lyrical symmetry of the former, I would bust beyond the frame of baby's first year into the unsteady currents of mothering adolescents and adults--even after losing a partner, as Erdrich did. How do the letters still strike the page after that sorrow? I would explain it in my gilded, intense only I could.

If I could be Tom Spanbauer, I'd give you the moon and the man who fell in love with it by offering a book about my writing life. How I wrote, "When the sun was full up, the fog got to be a petticoat curtain over the window of things" (page 187). This book would be my offering to all of the writers out there who couldn't make it to my "Dangerous Writing" workshops like Chuck Palahniuk, Jennifer Lauck, or countless others have.

If I could be Anne Patchett, I would write a book about combining children and creativity. I'd feed you my day--my schedule--how I bridged the two sides of the great divide between motherhood and solitude. This book so many need to read, and the power I brought to tell of my friendship with Lucy Grealy in Truth and Beauty, I would channel here...My pages would pierce a swollen mother's heart like an arrow.

More? If I could be Natalie Goldberg, I would write another novel--even though Banana Rose was a killer to create. With my current experience, my maturing perspective, and my spirit of adventure--I could take you back into Nell's life. What happened after Nell called Gauguin the night of his wedding and said, "Congratulations. I had a dream, and in my dream you were perfect for each other"? I would take you into the next chapter and let Nell wield her peculiar brand of character magnetism.

If I could be William Carlos Williams, I would evaporate my perfect terra cotta container and spill words into a novel. Faulkner? I'd slice sentences and forge my loose, wandering lines into poetry form--just to prove I could. If I could be Joy Harjo or Toni Morrison, I would write an intimate memoir about the intersection of myself and a writer can hold her personal roots and speak universal truths at the same time--I'd craft a book of magic.

I am drowning in my own writing now--plagued at night when I should be sleeping by filmy gauze brainchildren perched on the edge of my bed, saying,
"Write me next."
"No--she promised I'd be before either of you two."
Phantom sibling rivalries while I rub my eyes and tell them,
"Quiet now--I'm still working on my other things. You all will get your turn."
I don't always believe myself either and when they slip away, bone-white and frail--I always want to call them back--afraid maybe once these ideas go, they'll be gone.

But, I have to fill in the empty spaces of the novel I'm finishing now. I have to do it because an editor is waiting and she believes in my smudged ink pages so much more than even I do. I have to do it because my family has shielded me--a safe harbor in a creative hurricane--and I want them to read right through me by loving my characters who were no longer mine to control the instant I breathed them out of the tip of my pen. I have to finish because I promised myself I would...I have to finish because of the invisible readers whose eyes I want to borrow for just a little while with my story of love, loss, and the secrets we tell ourselves to get by. In the end, like writers everywhere, sometimes--I bleed my words for the audience alone. This book is a conversation I want to have with you.

Sunday Scribblings: "The books I would write..."


Anonymous susanlavonne said...

I love the way you use words...they are not flowery or extraneous. They remind me of a classic simple black dress with elegant lines that always is "just so" and never goes out of style.

9:48 AM  
Blogger bb said...

Beautiful, all of your ifs and all of your presents. I yearn for another Natalie Goldberg novel, too. And after reading this I yearn to converse with the words you are bleeding, too.

10:06 AM  
Blogger chest of drawers said...

You have a very individual way of expressing yourself - intelligent and emotional. I think your books would awake a lot of emotions in others and be very hard to put down.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Oh, this is so beautiful and fabulous! The filmy gauzy brainchildren perched on the edge of your bed whispering. Wow! I so completely know that feeling, and the fear that if you shoo them away they won't come back. I do begin to feel more and more guilty to keep putting them off, and I think what's motivating that is that the longer they're in there, they just keep developing and becoming more real, and that's great! They'll really be ready to step out of my pen! I'm so excited to learn you're working on a novel -- can't wait to hear more about it. And also, what's this Dangerous Writing workshop? Sounds great.

11:03 AM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Fantastic! Using the reference to other writers and what they might do - then talking about the book you're writing now and the ideas begging for a chance. Really beautiful and poetic post. I'd be thrilled to read your book(s)!

12:24 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

What a totally cool take on this theme! I would love to read that Shakespeare book, and I NEED to read that Anne Patchett book.

But I really look forward to reading YOUR book. I do.


1:08 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

truly incredible here. you have invited me to yearn for those books by others - a yearning i didn't know i had until reading your words. to read a sequel to banana rose, know the truth about shakespeare's experience, dive into another patchett book...all of this was divine for me. sitting here nodding thinking, "yes, me too, i want to read that book." which leads me to know this: your book is going to be amazing. what a gift you have, turning words this way and that into beautiful, strong images...thank you for this.

1:14 PM  
Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

I have the same thing with art... art I promise to do that never gets done; it drives me crazy sometimes

1:35 PM  
Blogger Kim G. said...

I would buy and read all of those books in a heartbeat (especially the Shakespeare one!). I'm looking forward to finding the authors I'm not familiar with and being inspired. Wonderful writing to this prompt.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"In the end, like writers everywhere, sometimes--I bleed my words for the audience alone. This book is a conversation I want to have with you."

this is the kick in the backside i needed - as you and i often do for each other. sometimes the story just has to be told - to put it out there for others, to *share* to enlighten, to bring a communion.

when you come to london on your book tour, i will be buying you a martini in a very posh bar, and we will toast the fact that we made it across the river without drowning :-)

4:30 PM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

the last line..the sharing of conversations...the conversations, the reading in between the lines, the smiles of knowing, the hands holding, the words of cheer, songs of tears and of being there. To say; tell me more, and thank you for sharing, and then listening and writing that which longs to be heard and understood.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Cee said...

Oh, that last sentence. Fantastic. What an inspiring entry - it makes me long to sit down and write for hours.

7:31 PM  
Blogger deirdre said...

". . . when they slip away, bone-white and frail--I always want to call them back--afraid maybe once these ideas go, they'll be gone."

I know this feeling so well and am learning that they will come back.

3:21 AM  
Blogger boliyou said...

So many themes and ideas, and you set them to paper so well! Give them each their turn.

9:25 AM  
Blogger justjohanna said...

oh! cannot wait to read YOUR book. delicious entry. lovely imagining to be all those others. and your words coming together - looks so effortless from you, just a blog entry. i am not haunted by filmy gauzy brainchildren. perhaps i should meditate a bit and see if i have any hiding in there.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

Incredible post. Wow, what lives in your head - fantastic. Your expressions of emotion are so sharp in their imagery. I especially love "when they slip away, bone-white and frail--I always want to call them back--afraid maybe once these ideas go, they'll be gone." I know that feeling, that instant - and so often they are really gone forever. Lovely.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Shannon (Sentimental) said...

What a beautiful way of expressing the theme this week. I love it.

7:05 PM  
Blogger art and soul said...

i love your passage about the "filmy gauze brainchildren perched on the edge of your bed" ...that is and incredible image and i too share that feeling sometimes with creative ideas that seem to circle me all night and sometimes crawl right in to be beside me!
good luck with your ook, your wrods are beautifully written.

8:01 AM  
Blogger HoBess said...

I love your description of the little sibling rivalries ... good luck finishing this project! And please do tell us more about the workshop.

10:51 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

is one
of my
so far.


1:30 PM  

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