I’ve found the difference between before and after having kids is not that you don’t have time for anything after kids, but you no longer have time for everything. Your free time is so limited that you have to pick one or two things to do with those precious hours. For the past nearly two years I’ve eschewed housework, personal grooming, and exercise in favor of reading Dear Prudence, knitting obsessively, blogging, and occasionally attempting to work on the novel-in-progress that I’ve been chipping away at for the last four years. Every once in a while I try to add something else–practicing violin, drawing, doing a load of laundry–and it causes everything else to fall apart. So when I started taking a creative writing class at The Grotto this month, it meant that the odd little moments I was using to write blog posts are now devoted to coursework. It’s an interesting and very San Francisco class, involving hypnosis, writing in gibberish, translating poetry from languages we don’t speak, and my new favorite, making poetry with the cut-up technique.
I’m a little conflicted about this because I don’t, as a general rule, appreciate writing that is intentionally difficult to understand. I feel that writing should generally aim for clarity, and intentional obscurity is just a gimmick to hide weaknesses in style or plot. However, I’m having a lot of fun cutting up an old novel I started based on the year I spent working for the Marine Conservation Society in Seychelles, which has, through cutting and rearranging, transformed itself into a sort of sexy spy novel, and has yielded such delightful and surprising phrases as:
I went on a date with a French ballpoint pen.
He’s still a slow orderly plankton-eating fish.
I don’t know if this process is going to result in any sort of readable prose, but I’m having fun with it. I’m still occasionally thinking about the things I want to write about Indonesian literature, but there are some heavy issues that come up in these books–Sitti Nurbaya, where I am currently stalled, has a lot of stuff about gender issues and feminism that I feel I need to address, and don’t even get me started on sexual assault in Beauty is a Wound–and I’m finding it hard to put my thoughts in order. So if you need me, I’ll be over here in the corner, covered with glue and surrounded by little tiny bits of paper.