Submission to the unknown: Random bits from Journal 284

I could say — write, I mean, and post — something about how I will post fragmentary, incomplete pieces of text — my journal — because I don’t have answers for people (Clooney’s character in O Brother: people are looking for answers, he says a couple times). The GMA show today said Michelle Obama’s upcoming book tour is selling out stadia — woof. 23,000 seats at United Center (though maybe not all seats are being used). J.K. Rowling only sold out Radio City and its 6,000 seats. I don’t suspect I’ll ever write anything that would sell out anything like that — I’m not otherwise famous, as Obamas are, and I’m not likely to offer escape, absorption in story, or laughter as some authors do. But I’m OK with that. [Page 117, Sun. 23 Sept. 2018]

I don’t feel there are stories in my life — traditional stories, where a character is presented a situation and has to make choices. But maybe I’m just not framing my own experiences properly. Think about those times you did make a decision–like, OK, when M got sick and I chose not to run away but to get married so I could get health insurance for her. But running away — though it was an option, I guess, it didn’t occur to me as a legit option. And I left MTU after a year — that was a decision. So I suppose I could tell stories that way. Of course, I don’t make momentous decisions every day (though maybe I’m not seeing the momentous in the decisions I make — eh, I don’t choose to see life that way). When I’ve make choices. it’s because I followed my intuition, feelings, not because I followed some moral principle. I’m not sold on the idea of picking out moments of choices–much more of my life is spent just being. [Pages 168-170, Thurs. 26 Sept. 2018]

But I somehow also (in a vague sense) like this model of looking in my own life and my own memories for moments of inflection. It points out problems in the model of daily life as being this smoothly ongoing thing. There are these evaluations all the time/very often, and sometimes moments become intolerable — like, say, my needing to pee. [Page 212-3, Sat. 29 Sept. 2018, writing at coffeehouse in Rockford, Ill.]

Now there are the Knausgård  novels, which are deeply personal and whatnot. And he has gone in-depth — lotsa details, reviewers and readers say, but the few excerpts I’ve read haven’t been — they’ve been neither all that nor a bag of chips (excuse the lameness of that last line — the cheesy cleverness still amuses me at times, and it’s better to write that shit in journal rather than say it to a human. See, I still will/would edit my journals before publishing them). No, I don’t want to piss off my brother or uncle or others by my writings, as Knausgård did. I started reading an excerpt from his most recent (6th? 4th? I’m not sure) book, where he talks about the blowback to the first book — though he is an asshole, you know?  [Page 132-3, Sun. 23 Sept. 2018]

I read some students’ “Poetry is” statements — yes, from back six weeks ago — and when kids were saying things critical of poetry, I didn’t push back. To “poetry is boring” or “poetry is confusing,” I would comment: “sometimes!” I don’t want to pretend that all students are gonna like what I like. To be a fan of intellectual culture is to accept that not all others will get it — that many won’t get it. [Page 198, Sat. 29 Sept. 2019, writing at coffeehouse in Rockford, Ill.]

When we get down to freewriting in my creative writing class, as I did this week with the fiction freewrites, it really can be hard to make that change, that submission, submitting to the open page, to the unknown. Submission seems required for the new thing, the new text, to happen, to be born. [Page 82, Sat. 22 Sept. 2018]

A view from near the spot in Magnolia Bluffs Park in Rock County, Wis., where I met two plein-air painters. 30 Sept. 2018

The ladies had painting stations. The one who left first (the one whose station lacked an umbrella) showed us three of her recent paintings as she had backed her car out of her parking spot but she also hadn’t left yet. [Page 232, Mon. 1 October 2018]

At Magnolia Bluffs Park, Rock County, Wis. 30 Sept. 2018.

5:55 a.m. smart cell (phone) time: so, yes, here I am. Here we are — the cat’s on my lap after he jumped on. Had a dream my friend D somehow gave us his chocolate Lab — which was, in the dream, my uncle’s bloodhound, old with some grommets in his flesh — 2 up by shoulders, 2 by his hips. And so there was that. … The kitchen’s a mess. We made burritos early, before 5, and I walked dog [about 20 minutes] — too tired for more. Came back, put away the remaining burrito meat (Grillers meat) and was in bed just after the Entertainment Tonight show started at 6:30. [Page 239, Tues. 2 October 2018]

[Post above made using same process as the previous post, getting random numbers, going to those pages in my Journal 284, and finding a bit of text there.]

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