Not much progress, as I’ve mainly been breaking and trying to reassemble my fragile writing ecosystem.
First up, the run of concerts, which did their damage. Can’t fall asleep after them, because I’m still ampedup, which makes me sleep in (missing a gym cycle), and have to go after work to the next concert (usually missing another gym cycle). I planned to miss the writing cycles, but I still hate when it happens.
But then, it took a few days to almost get back in the groove. Saturday was my writing day off, and the plan was to gear up to put things right on Sunday. On Saturday night, I saw the world premiere of Mysterious Skin, a play based on the novel of the same name by Scott Heim. Scott and I used to e-mail, often at one point, less so now, and we exchanged e-mail to confirm that he would be there on opening night.
So, I see him before the show, we chat. Met his boyfriend Michael, sweet guy, and it’s interesting that Scott and I e-mailed regularly when they were first starting to become a couple, more than 8 years ago. The show was phenomenal and anyone in the Bay Area should definitely see it before it finishes its run in June.
After the show, Scott and Michael and most of the cast are going to a nearby bar, so we head over there. I figure I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to be around Scott, since i do feel some sort of connection to him, but moreso in spirit than actual human connection.
I think Mysterious Skin as the first novel to push through the door of my sad life of reading, when I would get all these bad gay novels set in Chelsea, WeHo, and Castro with the pretty pithy princesses spouting slippery sexy dialogue. i knew it was crap, but as the sole recipient of all the crap sent to oasis, i read it. I read it all.
Mysterious Skin was the first novel to smack me across the face and show me that a book could be real, gay, use beautiful language, flowing description, and paint beautiful pictures of people living real lives. The power of words to convey human longing for connectedness.
It helped that Scott is like two years older than me, and that he seemed so certain of his palette of language. A lot of this is projection, of course.
I think the main issue is that his book was like a lighthouse shining in through the fog, to point me in the right direction. But ultimately the fog sweeps back in, and you just have to keep steering toward the direction from which you believe the light was coming.
Fight Club, oddly enough, would be the book that blew all the fog away, that cleared up what I wanted to write and say, and how I wanted to say it. Scott reminded me earlier tonight that he actually blurbed Fight Club, which I either forgot or it wasn’t picked up on the later Brad Pitt/Edward norton covered editions that I ended up finding.
But Scott is definitely a touch point on the path that brought me here. It was interesting knowing that while we chatted in e-mail, he wrote a second book, and I did nothing. An experience that would be echoed years later when Kirk Read disappeared up north for a few months and came back an author. I knew him before and after the creation of his beautiful book. Same with Scott’s second book.
So, hanging out with Scott was definitely something I didn’t want to pass up. So, Saturday night, and I mainly sit back and let his reality toss aside a lot of the projection that I have filled in as a mental image. Obviously, he was spending a lot of time with the playwright, the cast, his boyfriend, etc., so I mainly sat around and observed. This was the point of the night, so I didn’t want to intrude any further.
I mean, on some level, I would probably be pained to read a lot of those old e-mails. It’s probably that same tired nonsense about me wanting to be a writer, but never having time. That old chestnut. And that would be one of 100 other e-mails he had from other wannabe writers. I don’t have the e-mails or his responses imported onto the new computer yet, so I can’t say.
But staying out that late (1:30 a.m.) really hit me, in that I slept in a bit later on Sunday, didn’t feel awake enough to write in the afternoon, and didn’t want to take a nap because then i would be too rested to go to bed on time that night, which would start the evil cycle all over again on Monday.
So, no writing on Sunday, and I must have dozed off at some point because I can’t easily fall asleep at 10p Sunday night, staying up past midnight. Monday morning, my alarm goes off at 6, like a cruel joke, as I know there’s no way I’m in condition to start the day. I roll back the alarm in the hope of at least salavaging the writing window for Monday evening. Spare the gym and spoil the writer. Nope. I’m tired again Monday night and the zone remains elusive.
Tuesday night, I attend Michael and Scott’s reading, which is down the street from my apartment at the gay community center. Michael reads first, a beautiful piece from his book Avoidance, which really makes me want to read the rest. Beautiful pacing, great detail, very authoritative voice (the kind that makes you sit back, assured that the writer knows the world they are unfolding for you; the tone that I beat myself up over in my own writing, until I start to see it fading in).
Scott reads next, a piece from Mysterious Skin, since that is why he’s in town, and a piece from his third, as-yet-unfinished novel, We Disappear, which was excerpted in Genre. Another great piece, and you can see his maturity as a writer developing. Two years older, but a decade of experience as a writer. Oh well, I’m not getting that time back, no use reflecting on my misspent youth.
After the reading, I talked more with Scott and Michael, and hope I stay in touch with both of them. I kind of suck at that now. Not making any new friends, and I keep all my old friends within reach, but can’t interact too much (unless they are on AIM while I’m being paid to kill eight hours at work, then it will seem like I’m Mr. Accessible. Try that at night, won’t happen.)
I started to tell Scott the intro above, as to the gay book review cycle, with the intent of seguing into the importance of his book, and his encouragement. But, again, it’s his reading, so he keeps getting pulled away, etc., etc. So, this diary entry will have to do. But he is definitely one of the people I plan to thank in the acknowledgements in my novel. And it will be important for me to remember that when (WHEN!? Please God, when?!) I finish my novel and people write me seeking encouragement. Being there to give that spark to other people, a few words that validate their desire to write, to create, to do whatever.
Scott and company are all heading to a bar down the street from my apartment, the same bar where Kirk and I went after our recent reading. I would love to go, but I decide against it. It’s my bedtime, I feel tired, and I want to write tomorrow. It’s time to get serious again.