Sunday, January 01, 2006

Personal growth

Shaving* naked in front of the mirror last night, looking at the new roundishness of my abdomen -- a pregnant muchness that wasn't there three months ago, back before my gym closed -- I thought of personal growth, the kind of growth that derives its substance from too many bags of microwave popcorn and too many Christmas cookies and too many pieces of Belgian chocolate (oh thank you very much, my beloved patients, but don't you realize that if you kill me, I won't be here to take care of you?) Turning this way and that, trying to find some angle where I didn't look like Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair, only, you know, hairy, suppressing the urge to take a scalpel to my flesh because what the hell good is it being a surgeon anyway if I can't even fix blubber belly, I reflected (in the mirror, get it?) that this was why I loved writing. Think about it. Friends drift away, love affairs fly apart, bodies go to hell, and yet our writing chugs on, barring hard drive crashes, fire, floods, and fiction-hating dogs, of course. Every bit of writing we do improves us as writers. Well, that one month foray into screenwriting put me into an extended writer's block, but I still learned from that, didn't I? (Yeah. You learned not to fuck with me, sailor. -- Doug's muse.) And I may have spent my first two years and 100K words of 'serious' writing on a project that went nowhere fast, but if I hadn't done that, could I have written a 300K word novel that actually went somewhere? I don't think so. What's my problem with scale, anyway? I've sold flash fiction and stories in the 4K to 6K range, and I've written a humongous novel, but I can't manage to turn out a modest 90K novel. But I digress. Writing is the one compartment of my life where I feel like things are getting better**. I may be getting poorer thanks to this money pit of a house, and I may be getting older and fatter and balder, but at least with writing, if I put out the effort, I have something to show for it: not just the words on the page, but also an internal maturation which makes it possible to do that much more the next time my fingers hit the keyboard. So I'm shaving, looking at that 4-month-preggers so-not-a-six-pack of mine, and I'm thinking, Maybe there is something growing in there. Maybe I could take that 2001-2002 project of mine, Karakoram, and turn it into something 90K-ish, tight, interesting, funny, poignant -- in short, everything I wanted it to be when I first got started. Maybe I can do that now. Yeah. D. *My face. Detail added for Maureen's benefit. **Before you ask: no, there's nothing wrong with my marriage. Knockingonwood knockingonwood knockingonwood.

18 Comments:

Blogger Blogenfreude said...

"This Side of Paradise" was rewritten after it was rejected, I believe. There are second acts ...

1/02/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Pat Kirby said...

It always fascinated me how "length" (heh) is such a variable with writers.

My sales have been short stories, but I'm happiest in the 90K range. Flash fiction is impossible and I'm usually unable to keep a story at the very saleable 3-4K range. Just can't do, too longwinded.

1/02/2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger mm said...

Am I supposed to believe I'm the only one who wondered what you were shaving?

1/02/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Yes, Maureen. Everyone else thinks I'm a saint.

1/02/2006 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

it's because we know you're not that mm won.

granted it was a field of nearly none but still . . .

1/02/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Maureen won? Yay Maureen!

1/02/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Newsflash:

I can't post to any of my blogs! I keep getting this error message:

001 java.io.IOException: No space left on deviceblog/61/28/4/boogerz/archives/2006_01_01_boogerz_archive.html

That's the error message I get over at my Wax, Boogers, and Phlegm blog. I get a similar one here.

I've emailed my question to Blogger. If I get stuck, I might have to convert to Wordpress or one of the other software blogging tools.

Advice, anyone?

1/02/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

that error message again:
001 java.io.IOException: No space left on deviceblog/61/28/4/boogerz/archives/

2006_01_01_boogerz_archive.html

Only no space between archives/ and 2006.

1/02/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Shelbi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/02/2006 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Shelbi said...

I was getting the same error message as you, but when I checked it, my posts were showing up in spite of the "no space left" thing.

Weird.

Maybe yours is doing the same thing?

I'm new to blogging [and posting comments on other people's blogs], but I read yours regularly and enjoy it.

Happy New Year!

1/02/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Thanks, Shelbi. Yup -- it works now! Yippee! And thanks for your earlier post. I felt relieved knowing I wasn't the only one with the problem.

1/02/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Shelbi said...

Hey, no problem. My blog is freaking out again, but maybe it'll be fixed by tomorrow.

For tonight, I give up.

1/02/2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Abby Taylor said...

Hey, thanks for visiting over at Falafel Sex. Good to find you. Consider yourself linked back!

1/03/2006 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Shelbi -- sorry to hear it! I haven't tried to do anything more than comment today, so I don't know yet what it's like at my end.

Abby -- thanks for the linkage.

1/03/2006 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Shelbi said...

As of 10 something this morning, my blog was back up and running. Whew! I can't believe how addicted I am to this blogging thing.

I must have composed fifteen insightful and brilliant posts in my head last night when it was broken. Alas, I may have missed my window of opportunity for brilliance!

Oh well, it's still fun [and a great diversion from housework!]

1/03/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Abbamondi said...

I think I read this post too quickly. So, you're pregnant?

CONGRATS!!!

1/03/2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Addictive indeed, Shelbi. You should have seen me a few months ago when I accidentally deleted my entire blog.

Paul, count on this being the media event of the century. Hobbit gives birth!

1/03/2006 12:51:00 PM  
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