And you always show up late; or, On Words (and Life) That Go Forward and Backward

The other meaning of the word “career” got me thinking about my “career” and my life’s career, and about how much I love double-entendre and the tricksiness of words. So as I careered (derived from horse riding) and careened (derived from ship repair), from one kind of life to another, little remained that looks like a career (derived from wheeled vehicle).

In fact I cleaved from path after path, quitting this, trying and quitting that, cleaving to a desire to be true to myself, whoever she was at any given time.

I buckled up in each trajectory’s car, buckled down to the work, but inevitably buckled from the pressure to sit.

I overlooked clues to what make me satisfied, overly concerned with some imagined authority who overlooked my choices.

Okay, maybe I’ve pushed the game too far. But I love that these are known as “Janus words,” that old two-faced bloke. But truly, I have careered, and cannot claim to have had a career, a definition that includes the notion of durability, of a devotion of time.

And the only thing I can say I have been devoted to across time is words. I have also loved silence. And there we have poetry.

But where am I? Who am I in all this mucking about? Harvey Oxenhorn in the wonderful Tuning the Rig has this to say about that: “Maybe…the problem isn’t knowing ‘who you really are’ but thinking that you can ever know. In an age when experience is far-ranging and the demands of daily life are so complex, perhaps integrity resides in not one ‘true’ strand of endeavors or desire but in the intelligence and love and dignity with which each person’s crazily conflicting strands are parceled, warmed, and served. That kind of strength is filamented — flexible, though prone to fray. It bind against itself, and holds.”

I love the generosity of that thought, how it allows us all to stumble and be contradictory, to be wrong and strong and uncertain, changeable and changed. It opens its arms to confusion. I pinball, therefore I am.

 

And speaking of looking backward: here are links to two poems published online in lit mags that are now in print inside my new chapbook, Being Many Seeds (www.graysonbooks.com/being-many-seeds.html):

https://amethystmagazine.org/2020/01/15/the-unfolding-earth-a-poem-by-marilyn-mccabe/

https://89b51d07-bdbc-4f8c-8b62-740f86360cd5.filesusr.com/ugd/61020d_1712d51103d94ed4be98f6b3470e2e9d.pdf

The Hardest Part; or, Aspects of the Writing Life

There are many facets of the writing life. I thought it might be useful to log some of the major ones. Living the examined life, you know. Here are some aspects of the writing life:
– There’s the “get a job so you can pay the rent” part.
– The “find the time and psychic space to do it” part.
– The “have absolutely nothing in your head and wander around the house aimlessly” part.
– The self-recriminating “how can I be a writer if I don’t write” part.
– The “have ideas but can’t quite seem to figure out how to get them on the page” part.
– There’s the “write a bunch of stuff” part.
– The “what is all this crap?” part.
– There’s the tinkering, the taking out and putting back in and moving things around part, which sometimes happens only in the head; sometimes you manage to do it on the page, and it’s fun. That part.
– There’s the “this is brilliant” part.
– The “oh, wait, no, this is dreadful” part.
– There’s the “hm, I like this” part.
– There’s the research into what literary magazines and publishers might like the work part.
– The sending out and sending out and paying fees for the privilege of getting someone’s attention to your work for five freaking minutes part.
– The looking back at what you sent out to which lit mag/publisher and the “why on earth would I send them THIS” part.
– There’s the petty jealousies, the eye rolling, the “are you freaking kidding me, THIS got published” part.
– There’s the “this person’s work is so brilliant I don’t know why I even bother” part. With its corollary, the “I quit writing forever” part.
– There’s the waiting, the waiting, the wayayaiting.
– There’s the “okay, I can’t just keep checking email and mail every five minutes on the chance one of the twenty-five places that have my work will get back to me finally; I HAVE to get back to work” part.
– The acceptance! Hee hee hee! Perhaps a small dance. That part.
– The seeing it print! but can’t reread it yet another time because you’re sick to death of it just check to make sure that is in fact your name beneath it part.
– There’s the forcing yourself to the page part and starting something new part, anything, anything at all.
– The vital necessity of dealing with that dangling cobweb or smudge on the refrigerator door you’ve been ignoring for a week part, with its corollary: the vital necessity of mopping the kitchen floor right now part; with its corollary above, the wander around the house aimlessly part.

So to all of you living the writing life, huzzah. May some parts linger longer than others! As for me, I’ve got some cobweb wrangling to do.