Another story in the Times yesterday! An alleged crack addict writes a book and suddenly we are all interested in the Truth again. Ahhhh, there is nothing like depravation to increase appreciation.
Before I was a blogger or a writer, I was a journalist. Which uniquely qualifies me to run a smallish African nation and also to understand the difference between journalism and writing. One is the pursuit of facts, the other, the pursuit of truth. (Of course, there will always be wackjobs uninterested in either). What distorts everything in life is not understanding the difference. Journalism, at its best, wades through the truth to get at the facts. Writing, at its worst, ignores both.
I worked at ABC News for 15 years (see pp. 61-88; 99-101; 137-140 in my memoir). When I started writing, it was clear to me I was not reporting a story, I was simply telling one. I understand that applying words to memories distorts them. And even with the best of intentions, in recalling the past, we are altering it. But the underlying facts of those stories must be beyond doubt...
A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it.... You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection — unless you lie — in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.
— Harold Pintor, Nobel Prize for Literature 2005
Hmmm... Lies... it got me thinking...
The State of My Novel
...about the President's State of the Union address next week and his buggering of ordinary Americans???which then got me thinking about the state of my love life, and whether I should TIVO my favorite show and go out tonight; or not.
Writing is a little like dating. And my novel, well, our relationship is in a precarious place. That 3 months mark where you either decide to part ways or take it to the next level. It's complicated....
I met my novel two years ago at Clancy's down on Roy Street. He was smart and handsome and charming, someone I thought I might really like if we spent any time together. We sat at the bar drinking, laughing, flirting. It was well past midnight when I said, "I should be going." I offered to pay for my drinks but my novel would have none of it, snapping up the check with a flourish, leaving me flush with clever anecdotes, the promise of more???
But then my novel didn't call.
Not only that, I saw my novel out with Chick-Lit, her pouty, painted lips where mine had been just weeks before. I thought we had something special — all those powerful verbs and hidden subtext, lyrical metaphors and longing em-dashes — but maybe I was wrong. Maybe I wasn't meant to get involved with a novel. I put him out of my mind and took up with a memoir.
(...Writing is easy!!! Wheeeeee!)
I dated the memoir for 2 years but we broke up recently after I walked into Powell's and he was nowhere to be found. I was told he was in the Quimby warehouse. The Quimby Warehouse??? At that point we decided it would be best to see other books. (Truthfully, I thought he was a bit full of himself anyway, always talking about his mom and his career and his past relationships and blah, blah, blah.)
Then my novel called out of the blue. My heart leapt because even while I was with my memoir I'd been thinking about my novel the whole time! Now we've been seeing each other off and on, neither of us sure how to proceed. Recently, I caught him having dinner with a Cookbook, but he swears it was just research. I want to believe him. I don't want to make the same mistake this time. I stay home and wait.
Then last night he arrived with a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir. We polished it off and were feeling amorous, giddy, toying with commitment. There was a moment, an explosion of sorts. A brief instant of clarity that bound us — he completes me! One perfect paragraph and just like that, everything changes. My novel and I entered a whole new phase. We lolled in bed, smoking unfiltered Camels for future image-conscious publishers to airbrush out.
I'll forever love my memoir, in that way one always loves their "first." But it's my novel now that has engaged my imagination, and fueled my passion.
Read this, did I already tell you that? Four men and their issues. Four local guys, actually — maybe one lives next to you!
I am a Sellout
(The answer to yesterday's quiz: "What is the anagram for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito?"...just sayin'... oh, and look at Mark Iocolano's work in Comments. Very clever.)
"Uncle Johnny and Tammy were doomed from the start. After years of dating and infidelity and boozy shouting matches on the dock, there was nothing left for them to do but get married."
— Carole Radziwill, What Remains
Books mentioned in this post
Carole Radziwill is the author of What Remains: A Memoir of Fate Friendship