Theme of the Week

I am feeling: tired, inadequate, weepy. Three faculty members of the program read aloud tonight, and I had one of those, “Dear God, I should not be allowed near a typewriter or a pen or an inkwell, EVER” moments. One man used the word “rhapsodic” and my heart melted. I had forgotten about that word. Our faculty members (all brilliant and intimidating) bombard us with their choice of readings, tight, profound little tearjerkers, sidesplitters, pontifications on Love and Life and Death…things that make you think.

But I come back to my room and no rhapsodizing for me. I stare at the word count on my manuscript and feel immediately and entirely depleted. Everyone says it is good, but it feels…lacking. Maybe it’s Tuesday. Maybe my headache is getting in the way. I think about my boss and my ex-boyfriend, the way he mined my persona for idiosyncratic nuggets, for Inspiration (that ephemeral bitch), and called me Gala, after Dali’s wife and muse. It sounds laughable now. I remember the man on the street in Paris who wanted to draw my face (not in Montmartre, Mon Dieu), and the way my friend said, upon seeing him sketch, “I think you should be a muse…for an artist.”

But one cannot be both an artist and a muse, right? You’re either one, or the other. So maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Maybe I’m supposed to abandon the practice of creating myself and focus on nurturing the creative spirits of others. I’ll make tea for sculptors and pray for avant-garde filmmakers to have hallucinogenic dreams. I’ll pretend not to notice when a painter examines my profile, and though I don’t think of myself as “pretty” now, there is still time. “I’ve never met a writer’s wife who wasn’t beautiful,” Kurt Vonnegut said. If I become beautiful by being the object of artistic scrutiny, then I can marry a writer, maybe, and help him up when he stumbles, drunk, hold his clammy arm to steady him over the threshold of our beach cottage.

But this is wishful thinking, I know. The “writer” in me longs to be free of words, of the urge to wrestle to communicate, a losing battle, always. Never is it more apparently sad and invigorating and overwhelming than it is here, at writing camp.

And the cafeteria food! Oy vey.

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