Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Getting the Juices Flowing

The last month has been a busy one, made hectic by the arrival and passing of both Spring Break and Easter, the headache (and heartache) of emotionally unstable relatives, doubts, disillusionments, and reevaluations.

In other words, life, as it often does, encroached upon the joy and pleasure of recreational writing. There simply wasn't time.

And, during that dry spell--as inevitably happens--I found myself questioning the wisdom or even the sanity of ever writing again. I looked around, taking in with a wince surroundings I had not chosen and had from the beginning abhorred and wondering how I would ever manage to talk/think/finesse my way free of this situation. On the heels of those dismal considerations came the question, "Do you really think you are going to have any success at this writing thing at this stage of your life?" followed by "Are you an utter failure or what?"

It was quite disconcerting.

Last night, because I am, I must accept, a sickeningly optimistic Pollyanna (despite my moments of cynicism) dragged myself from the isolation of the hated downtown apartment to attend yet another of the Writers Live! readings offered by the main branch of New Haven Public Library. This came after much debate. I had just returned from a non-too-productive meeting with a potential client and decided that, in general, human kind stank, life stank, writing for others stank, and being cheerfully philosophical about the growing collective stench, well...stank. Additionally I felt horrible (having pushed myself too hard, as usual), looked (and still look) worse than I felt, and subsequently wanted nothing more than to crawl beneath my covers and slumber away for a month! That night, though, the featured author was to be a local talent, Ira Rosofsky, who would discuss his book Nasty, Brutish & Long: Adventures in Old Age and the World of Eldercare. Before I knew it, that super-positive, something-good-will-come-of-it-I- just-know kicked in, and I found myself trotting back to the very same building in which I had spent nearly four hours huddled over reference books as I banged away at my laptop.

Now, it must be said that I spend so much time in that very same library compiling research for my various projects that the prospect of returning for recreational purposes was not so appealing as it might have been; nonetheless, in this instance, I had--upon reading the book--been impressed by the author's handling of the subject matter, which was of great interest to me for a number of reasons. First of all, the issue of ageism had been introduced to me in college as I studied sociology. The concept had been to me--a Southern girl accustomed to seeing the living rooms of relatives outfitted with hospital beds, portable potties, and an array of medical equipment obtained for the express purpose of taking care of a declining loved one in the comfort and security of home--utterly foreign. One respected "old folks" where I came from, or else; thus, the notion of elder abuse incensed me to no end. Many years later, when my own mother became ill, I was appalled that attitudes had not changed, shocked by the prevailing attitude that "Oh, this is what happens. Once they get old, it's pretty much downhill from there. Accept reality. They just die. Why get so uptight about it. That's life. Your mother isn't exactly a spring chicken, y'know." Though I was not physically present for the last two horrifying years of her life, her suffering reawakened that sense of horror and injustice within me. Naturally, when the opportunity arose to pose pertinent questions to a "psychologist charged with providing mental health services to his elders," I could not simply let it pass.

As is often the case, the "crowd" was small: no more than ten-to-twelve people. And, uncharacteristically, I was late (having conveniently decided I could get a bit of research done before six, cheerily ignoring the reality that once buried in books my nose would not emerge for at least an hour). Fortunately, the facilitators--John and Carol--had, in anticipation of late arrivals, chosen to wait five minutes before beginning. This gave me time to run back upstairs to grab my overcoat and umbrella, pour myself a cup of coffee, then actually sit and catch my breath for a moment! When the reading/interview began, I found myself immediately charged by that unique and unmistakable charge of creativity in the air. For all my earlier whining, my steadfast assertions that I would give up the asinine notion of interviewing authors on my blog, of skipping merrily out to participate in workshops and discussion groups, of ever becoming anything more than a vehicle for neatly transporting the thoughts and ideas of others...

I was hooked.

Question after question I asked, feeling as though I were again interning (unpaid, of course) for small newspapers in Virginia. My pen flew over the pages as I recorded thoughts, ideas, images, and--yes--more questions. Before long, my fatigue seemed to have ebbed away, leaving me thinking this is where I belong...what I should be doing. Once again, I found myself tweaking the Master Plan, virtually vibrating with the intense hunger to write, to surround myself with those who write, and to run home and put in another hour or so of writing myself.

When the session ended, I--having left my copy of the book at home--approached Mr.Rosofsky nevertheless, needing the contact with another who braved the world of published works. Although we only spoke briefly, I stepped away planning how I would go about contacting other authors, wondering if there were a way to volunteer my time to assist with similar programs in the area.

And then it happened.

John, a former publishing intern who had before been in charge of the Writers Live! series approached me to ask if I would consider the possibility of interviewing future guests of the series.


Now one of the children's librarians, John no longer "ran" the program; nevertheless, he took my information (scribbled on a scrap of note paper since I--determined that I would not be staying in New Haven long enough to merit the expense--refused to have more business cards printed) and assured me he would get back to me.

This morning, because my research took me back the library anyway, I took the initiative to track the poor man down (in other words, I "PPT"-ed him, i.e. employed my personal policy of Persistence, Perseverance & Tenacity to get what I wanted), which resulted in a very pleasant and stimulating conversation. (Which is to say: I ran off at the mouth, as usual!) But, with his card (not a scrap of notepaper) in my hot little hand--complete with the contact information of the individual now overseeing the series, I returned to my laptop, my piles of reference books, and the general disarray of my temporary work station with renewed determination: determination to reach the goals set for myself no matter what it took, no matter how long it took.

When all is said and done, no matter how dry or acrid or discouraging the "dry spell" it takes so very little to get the creative juices again flowing.

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