It’s been a tough week and not just for me.
After several 14-hour writing days tacked onto two months of marathon writing, I hit the wall Monday. I could not physically make myself write another word. It wasn’t just the exhaustion. The lagging self-confidence. The conviction that I was writing a shit combination of The Victorian “O.C.” and the world’s longest and worst emo song. I’d just hit it. Total burn out. So long and thanks for all the fish.
The knowledge that I would not make this new deadline induced a complete panic in me. I was consumed with self-loathing and guilt, the terrible feeling that I was letting everyone down. And that, in turn, produced a writing paralysis which didn’t help anything.
And then this amazing thing happened on Monday night.
I got pissed off. I mean really snarling, middle finger salute to the world, you-and-what-army, Peter Finch in “Network,” Pete Townsend-guitar solo-side four-of-“Quadrophenia” pissed off. The kind of pissed off that makes me feel as if I have finally passed from the resigned end of a French New Wave film–all grainy film and trenchoated ennui–into a late 1970’s dystopian England, broken beer bottle in my hand and a punk war cry on my lips. And you know what? It really, really helped. It wasn’t a specific pissed off, just a I “wow, I really needed that” thing.
I made the “click” that I was missing that from the work as well. There was no real anger or blood in the work. I was missing the fist of it all. The you-think-you-can-tell-me-how-to-live-in-this-world-well-you’re-bloody-mistaken-chum cri de coeur that girls/women are often denied. (I’m sure there is, quite rightly, the argument to be made that boys/men are denied the cultural right to their tears and doubts. But that can be somebody else’s Friday blog.) I allowed myself to just scream, “FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!!!” at the top of my lungs, and the next day, the writing was a dream.
Which brings me to Britney Spears. Britney needs some serious scream time.
As I live on the planet earth, I haven’t been able to tune out the ongoing Britney saga. I’d open Safari and there she’d be on CNN.com–lost, vacant-eyed, her head newly shaved, a little girl staring back at the camera. Yes, I know there have been the countless panty-free shots of Ms. S splashed over the Internet, but there was something so much more naked about these photos. It’s the sort of rawness it’s difficult to really look at–or look away from unscathed. At least for me it is.
I was reminded of how incredibly screwed up I was at 18, 19, 20…well, you get the picture. How that inability to get good and angry, to feel entitled to a good, “FUCK YOU!” at the top of my lungs meant that I could only implode. Self-destruct. Self-destroy. If I hadn’t had a journal and a pen and some bit of wild hardwiring in me that owes more to Iggy Pop than the good southern girl I’d been trained to be, I might have succeeded in that.
It struck me that Britney had taken out her rage on the wrong person. Instead of shearing herself bald and inking her body with tattoos that I’m guessing were not well thought out in advance (sort of Christian Bratz themed), I wish she could have flipped off the world, gone home, grabbed her journal and started writing the sort of album that is as raw and naked as her head. Maybe she still will. I hope so.
Meanwhile, my editor, who is one of the world’s loveliest people, and I have worked out a schedule that works which satisfies all. It will be tight, but the book will be out on time. It will be something that I have fought for, something I have put marrow into, and that is a good feeling.