Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Don't Jump.

Either my alarm did not go off this morning or it went off but didn’t wake me up because I had earplugs in because C was snoring or it went off and woke me up and I turned it off and went back to sleep and don’t remember doing that. Regardless, I woke up at 5:48. Even when I get up at 5, those 2 morning hours (I have to be in the shower by 7 or I won’t get out the door in time, about 7:40, to catch the train that will get me to work a few minutes before 9) feel way too short to get any serious writing done because it takes me about an hour to clear the fog enough to see what’s in my brain and try to get it onto the page in front of me.

So instead of writing I’m blogging, which is writing, yes, but it’s not writing.

Years ago, a friend was studying to become a life coach and needed guinea pigs to practice on so I volunteered. This was during the year that I lived in Jersey City after Jay and I separated and I began editing Life in a Box. One piece of advice she gave me – because I’ve always had such a hard time integrating all the exigencies of life (making a living, mostly, but also things like being a good friend and partner) was to read biographies of successful artists I admire to see how they did it.

It was good advice and I’ve learned lots of things that have helped me manage the dilemma, but, maybe because I have a tendency to dwell on the negative, off the top of my head I can’t think of any. What occurs to me recently is that the danger with this advice is that so many of these stories don’t end well. The first two I read were Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.

This is on my mind because I just finished reading The Broken Tower, a biography of Hart Crane. I barely knew who he was before I read it, but I was interested in gay life in the early 20th century. Crane struggled for years to make a living and make work and then at 32 -- even after being widely recognized as one of the greatest living poets -- broke and practically homeless, he jumped off a ship into the ocean and drowned.

And yesterday I started reading Spaulding Gray’s journals. One book was not connected to the other. I was interested in Crane’s life because of the milieu and Gray’s life because the piece I’m working on is similar in style of presentation to his work. I just have a stack of books here because I buy them faster than I can read them, and these two happened to be next to each other in the stack. 

I knew this but had forgotten: Spaulding Gray also jumped off a boat after undeniable artistic success and recognition. Great. (The other strange parallel is that both Crane’s and Gray’s mothers were Christian Scientists.)

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