At semi-regular intervals, she spoke to save her life, or something like it.
Friday, August 16, 2002
It's strange I would get a copy of the Dutch Gardens catalog when I don't even have a patch of grass to call my own. But I've always loved the names flowers are given, the stories around them in the Metamorphosis-- Oscar Wilde's descriptions of flowers. This catalogue is kind of amazing in that same way. I love reading the names and descriptions.
The Flower Record
Ivory Queen Allium Dreamland Tulip Arabian Mystery Queen of the Night (a black tulip!) Big Smile Tulip (vulvic!) The Dog Tooth Violet ("Carefree!") The Maureen White Fire Parrot Attila Tulip ("Big! Bold! Beautiful!") Salome, Las Vegas and Juanita Daffodils The Festiva Maxima Double Peony Early Stardrift
Today I've been considering this idea of throwing my completed novel into the sea. It's melodramatic, I know. But it's simple and perfect. The only thing is I've got copies of it on the hard drive, on the memory tower, on various floppies. I'd have to delete those first, and that just dampens the appeal of the ritual.
To be free of the fact of the book's existence-- and that it exists means I was (am?) a writer, that I believed in writing-- my own and other's. That is painful. I didn't know it would be so hard, heartbreaking. And I feel my writing has suffered from this awakening. The joy that was there on the page-- a kind of freewheeling daring, is gone. Kind of beaten out of it.
The whole destructive idea must be related to the fact that I can't open an issue of The New Yorker, or go into some awful chain bookstore, without seeing huge photos of Alice Sebold promoting her book. The photo of her is beautiful, she's in chiaroscuro, with dark lipstick. She looks just like a Russian ballet dancer.
I remember when it seemed like the book deal might fall through she was worried & I sent her these intensely worded emails saying how the book had to happen because it was important; she was an important writer. That all seems so stupid now, now that I won't even be able to read the book.
She told me she could not be my friend anymore because being with me reminded her too much of what it was like to be a failure.
Sometimes I think I will never get over that. I don't know why I give her so much power. Probably because I did respect her & believed in her. And for a short time she treated me like a dear friend. Sent me letters from MacDowell, etc.
While she was writing the book she said some character popped up, some "nice jewish boy" that the girl in the book gets to be with, someone kind. The girl in the book is dead, murdered-- narration from beyond the grave, you know. So she told me that that boy is based on M. That seemed weird at the time, but not so weird, as writers do that all the time. It's inevitable that we'll take things from the people around us. But now that bothers me, and I hope he was written out of it, and that there's not a trace of either one of us in the book, or in her mind anymore.
I hope someday I'll look back on that rejection and see it as silly, that somehow, somewhere, there will be vindication-- something like what she is enjoying now. That sometime I won't need to consider her as anything more than another well-reviewed writer, a stranger.