“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Kenneth Raymond Polk
January 16, 1927 – September 27, 1976
My grandfather joined the Marines at 17. He fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He died in 1976 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, honored with a 21 gun salute.
I never had the chance to meet him, but I know he was a great man. He had seven children, the youngest of which was my mother. He loved to cook and played the ukulele. He served in the Marines for decades, both at home and abroad, sacrificing personal comfort and time with his loved ones to serve his country. He defended the rights and freedoms of people he would never meet and worked to make this country and this world a better place.
Thanks Grandpa for keeping us free.
“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.”
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
And here, to counter my earlier post. Though I think I’m less concerned with finding my own voice (as I’ve been writing long enough to have established that reasonably well) as with getting my writing good enough to be read.
“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
Yesterday I got my last response letter from my advisor this semester. He briefly told me that my critical work was good and that he was pleased with what I was learning and that I was in good shape for next semester, then spent 3 pages (of about 4) telling me what’s wrong with my creative work. I know I’m here to learn and the more I know what’s wrong with my work the more I can improve and I want to be a great writer and I know I have a long way to go, but it’s still a lot to take in. He made lots of suggestions and tried to explain how to look at things to improve my issues, but my brain can’t absorb it all and rather than taking the criticism as a point for improvement, I just come out feeling like the crappiest writer in the world. My head hurts trying to wrap my brain around how to apply it all.
The semester is over. My final packet will arrive in the mail soon with the rest of the comments from my advisor, but I don’t have anymore deadlines or any required work, reading or writing, until the new semester starts at the end of June. I’ve narrowed down my thesis to two options and both draw me for different reasons. My advisor says I can go into the next semester with both stories, but I’ll need to pick one very quickly. I tentatively plan to spend my “summer vacation” working on the two to see where they go, but both are very blocked and knowing all my work is crap doesn’t exactly put me in the mood to write more of it.
As frustrating and mentally and emotionally draining as the whole process is, I just can’t think of anything more worth doing. It’s taken me a very long time to come into this, to both realize and decide that I wanted to be a writer, and every time I hit a point like this, a point when I just don’t know how to go on, I look for other options, other things I want to do with my life, and this is it. There just isn’t anything else I’d rather be doing. Every path is hard; every choice brings suffering of some sort. There isn’t anything else worth suffering through. This is what I want to do with my life; this is what matters to me. It’s hard, so very hard, on every level imaginable, but I have to put my effort into something and this is what I choose. The decision is made. I’m here, and this is what I want. There’s nothing left to do but just keep writing.
“I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.”
I found this quote particularly appropriate because the first piece I read for this semester was a short story by John Cheever. I had never heard of him before that.
This brief passage sums up exactly how I’m feeling at the moment. I keep writing this blog, but no one is reading it. Where are you, readers? Without you, I’m just sending my words off into the void—empty, meaningless, alone. I can’t do this alone.
Remember Large Spider from the other day? The one I was traumatized into brutally murdering? Well, Large Spider’s daddy came looking for me today…
A day or so after the incident with the Phantom Demon Spider, I found the crumpled corpse of a smallish black spider of the approximate size of the one that was haunting my desk, on the floor by my desk chair. I hardly dared to hope that these are the remains of said spider—though it would be a logical assumption, given the size, coloring, and location—so the Phantom Demon Spider may still be lurking in my desk somewhere. Just to be safe, I left the desecrated corpse of the smallish black spider where it was, as a warning to future spiders who dared to venture into these waters, and had no further incidents.
After a 14-hour work day, I was finally settling into my room to have some dinner and chill for the evening, when there it was. And it put Large Spider to shame. I can only assume that said Large Spider was in fact only an adolescent spider and after he’d been missing for an inordinately long time for a rebellious kid, Daddy Spider became concerned and went in search of his wayward son. (Carry on…) Upon finding the crumpled corpse of the Phantom Demon Spider (do I dare hope it is, in fact, the one?) he sent to find his son and talk some sense into him, he became enraged and came after me, assuming—and wrongly so—that I was responsible for small black spider’s demise. If I was involved, it was not a conscious choice, so cannot be held responsible for the atrocious act.
In any case, I now had an outraged and frantic Daddy Spider skittering across my bedroom floor. He was too scary to capture as per my usual method (on top of which, I tried several times to drop a cup over him and he evaded me) and too big to even attempt to kill (I did not want him coming after me if I failed), so I went with my only other option. I opened wide my bedroom door and threw things at him until I had herded him out into the hall. I then found my shoes—inspected them thoroughly for Daddy Spider’s backup; they were clean—and put them on before stepping gingerly around Daddy Spider in my hallway and went to find a broom.
It was a complicated process, but—working around Daddy Spider, who was still skittering around the hall—I got my back door open and the floodlights on, then propped open the glass door (since the metal proper thingy doesn’t work) with a 10 lb weight, as usual, and then guided him around the hall until I managed to persuade him out the door. He didn’t make it very far out the door, but he was out, when I gathered up the weight and closed the doors again. He must’ve come in under the back door because it has too much of a gap (I’m assuming this is how most of Nature gets in), so he could return at any moment. I’ve turned out all the lights in hopes that he either gets lost or thinks I’m not home…
Unfortunately, this is only a temporary solution.
I think it’s time to move.
My desk is haunted by a phantom demon spider.
I am deeply afraid of spiders. They are creepy and gross and scary with their way too many creepy, skinny legs and fangs and everything else. *shudders* However, I try not to kill anything just because I don’t like it. I usually use the cup-and-card method to safely remove the spider and release it into a more appropriate habitat: Outside. (Note: outside scares me just a little bit because spiders live out there…) I have had to do this entirely too much lately because the back door of my apartment isn’t quite sealed so lots of nature finds its way inside—including a number of the creepy style of crickets which I frequently mistake for spiders. I’m usually pretty good about it. I see the spider, have a minor panic attack, then take a deep breath, gather my tools, and relocate the creature. I even have a small spider living under my keyboard (the musical instrument, not the writing tool). He’s been there for months and is slowly working away at the problem of Other Bugs in my room, so we have a tenuous living arrangement. I check daily to be sure he hasn’t relocated out of sight or laid any eggs (I am quite sure he is a he, because I say he is, but that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of eggs because he may not agree with me). All other spiders are promptly relocated to Outside.
A week or so ago, I was already at the end of my rope when a Large Spider charged under my door and scurried wildly around my floor before ducking into a hole by the door where another smaller spider was undergoing a trial period for live-in bug elimination (this one determined the arrangement was not for him and moved on within the week, possibly due to the sudden assault by the Large Spider). I would have none of this and was not in an emotional state to calmly relocate a Large Spider, so I determined that he had to die. When he reappeared, I was waiting with a shoe that turned out to be far too light to get the job done effectively. After a traumatic beating on both our parts, I came out the victor—though I left the crumpled corpse for some time to be sure he was really dead before attempting to dispose of the body.
Since then, I have lived in fear of retribution from his many spider friends—I frequently check my shoes to be sure none of them are lying in wait.
I fear the spiders are now getting their revenge. This morning, I was sitting at my desk working furiously to finish Packet 5 and get it printed before the post office closed, when a smallish back spider scurried out onto my desk. I jumped back and quickly collected my Spider Removal Equipment while I kept my eyes on the little demon spider. He scurried in among the collection of crap that lives on my desk during Packet Due-date Week and I knocked things around rather frantically to get the little black demon spider into the open where I could capture him with my little plastic cup. Unfortunately, this didn’t so much expose him as send him deeper into hiding. He disappeared completely.
I gave up the cup and card and returned with a long, bent knitting needle and a flashlight. I searched the desk, turning over every piece of paper, equipment, and candy wrapper with my trusty knitting needle, even opened the drawer and poked cautiously through it. I scanned the bottom of the desk and every crack with my flashlight. I checked the surrounding floor, walls, and trashcan—everything under my desk. Still nothing. The demon spider had vanished. I still have no idea where he is, but he must he some sort of phantom spider to have vanished so completely.
Eventually, I had to give up and get back to my packet, but I’m sure he is still lurking around somewhere, perhaps keeping tabs on me as the other spiders prepare their attack. In the meantime, I jump at every slight tickle against my skin or movement out of the corner of my eye, fearing that the little phantom demon spider has returned.
I hate spiders.