Yesterday went well. Busy, but well. We found all the Ostara-related things we needed at the Phoenix and Dragon. There's was an amusing moment when the young man at the register (it makes me feel like an age'd spinster, writing "the young man at the register," and presently that amuses me) who was new was examining the bits of stone we'd selected and couldn't identify the bloodstone (green jasper with bits of iron oxide). When another employee finally told him what it was, he said, indignantly, "But it's green." I almost laughed. "Yes," he was told by the other employee, "but see all these tiny flecks of red?" To which he replied, "That's kind of creepy." Which seemed to confirm my earlier suspicions that he was one of those very sensitive New-Age, indie-rock Buddhist boys (and there's nothing wrong with that, mind you). I went the whole day without eating, just one of those days when I forgot to frelling eat, and my protein- and carb-deprived body passed out about six and slept until seven. Spooky cooked a pizza for dinner, which made the hunger go away. We watched the new ep of The Sopranos, which was superb, and we both loved that it closed with Moby's "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die." The consecration ceremony went well. I'm always the nervous one. Afterwards, I carried a violet candle into each room, and Spooky recited a farewell to winter which I'd written. I think I got to bed about two and lay there listening to "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" on repeat while Spooky puttered about online. Later, she came in and read me Robert McClusky's One Morning in Maine. I fell asleep about halfway through, but, annoyingly, awoke as soon as she was done and was awake until well after three. Then I awoke from troublesome dreams at eight and thought that was all the sleep I'd get, but dozed off again until ten.
Spooky was reading me a bit of Amanda Palmer's blog yesterday, and it touched on something important that I'm not sure I've ever talked about here. Amanda writes (behind the cut):
i used to listen to music all the time.
it was like church.
from the time i was really young, it would sit, sit sit, then later sit and cut and paste and listen listen listen to music and get lost inside of it. worshiping, mindlessly.
i think it was a few things.
i have to now point out the irony of the fact that i tried to put on music on my itunes to write this diary entry to and had to turn it off.
i can't handle a soundtrack anymore.
everyone else around me seems totally capable of listening to music while they email, while they work, while they write, talk, live.
i can't do it. actually, who am i kidding. i've never been able to. i couldn't do my homework with music on. i coudln't concentrate.
music was different. music was an activity in itself, unless i was doing something completely visual, like drawing or collaging or making a fanzine or pasting up shapes and glow-in-the-dark-stars on a ladder onto the ceiling in my bedroom. music was to do physical, listening work to.
i think part of the problem is that i don't do those things anymore. almost all of my work is brain work. that doesn't allow listening. and when i am doing nothing, i want quiet.
i don't listen to much music anymore. i can't really handle it. and it frightens me. [snip]
i almost never listen to music anymore. i own great headphones. i have a great stereo at home. but i almost never use them. i can't. when i have free time and i am on the internew or emailing, i need silence. when i am at home, i like to listen to my apartment. when i am doing dishes, i turn music on. i have two choices: Friend Rock or Not. Friend Rock is the name i adopted (from ad frank, orginally) for the CDs that friends and fans give me. they accumulate very quickly. when i get home from tour, there are usually dozens. they get given to me on the road. i do not listen as i go along. i can't. i probably, at this time, have over 300 un-listened-to Friend Rock CDs in various piles and Cd wallets at home. I keep up with them, i organize them, but i rarely sit down to listen. when i do, it is a job.
And, yes, that was a very long quote, and I hope that Amanda won't mind, but it was easier than restating it all. This is the first time I've ever heard another artist admit this. That their passion for the art form which they create/perform has been tainted by the fact that they've become a professional practitioner of it. I'd long ago assumed it was just me. I used to love to read. I read voraciously. Up until about 1994 or so, about the time my fiction started selling. By 1998, I'd pretty much stopped reading novels. And this is why. Reading had become work. Somehow, the old passion for reading had been undone by the fact that it was now my job to write. I come to fiction these days and only rarely can I enjoy it. My mind is too clouded with thoughts I never thought in the old days. How did that get past the copyeditor? How did that get past the editor? And if I believe the writer's not as talented as me, and they happen to be more successful, all I can think is why? And if the author's more talented than me, but nowhere near as successful, all I can think is why? Jealousy and matters of inequity arise. The fickle nature of audience. I waste energy envying X's ability or their readership, or I get entirely distracted and angry that so few people are reading Z. It goes on and on like this. And I read less and less fiction. And even if I can avoid all these things, I can never escape the fact that reading is now work. No longer can I read for the sake of reading. When I read, it's no longer to satiate the part of my mind that craves story. I get that from movies now. When I read, I can only analyze and quantify and pick apart and critique and think about the marketplace and what I'll write next and why I'm not this good or how I'm so much better. Being a writer has ruined reading for me. I still read short stories sometimes. Spooky reads me novels, which usually works, though she often gets interrupted by me ranting about something or another. I can't even go near a comic book. Poetry is still safe, which is one reason I don't write more of it. At least I still have poetry. And non-fiction. I read a lot of non-fiction.
I should also mention that dead writers are usually safe, as I can neither envy them nor be angry they aren't being treated better. Okay, that last part isn't true. I often get angry about dead writers who aren't treated better. A handful of living writers are safe: Harlan, Ray Bradbury, Ramsey, Peter...a few others. The reasons why these writers are safe vary a bit, but it's usually because they're simply, objectively, and vastly more talented than I am, and I know it, and, besides, I've worshiped them since childhood.
listening to music has become WORK.
i don't want it to be. i listened to music for years because i loved it, not because i wanted anything for or from it, not because i wanted to DO something with it.
though that's not really true....even in high school i was making music videos in my head to every song on my walkman. but that was outside reality, it doesn't count.
The "outside reality" bit is an important point. I was writing poetry and short stories twenty years before my first fiction sale, but I never believed, not really, that any of it would be published. That it would become about making art and making money and sales reports and return rates and critics and readers and agents. Anyway, I'm sorry to see someone else struggling with this, but I'm also comforted that I'm not the only one. I would ask the other professional writers reading this, because I've never had the nerve to do so, has something like this happened to you? I know that many of you are heavy readers.
Argh. This has gone on far too long, and there are things I need to get done. Wind her up and watch her go. Damn straight. Please have a look at the eBay auctions. Thanks. "See" you later.
Postscript: Good luck today, Sonya.