The Meaning of Life
The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy
MomBrain is a salty writer. At least, she hopes she is. Because any writer worth her salt keeps a notebook beside her bed in case midnight lightning strikes.
Creative lightning does not strike often, and it almost always looks brighter at night than it does in the light of day. For example, my own notes are usually the burning equivalent of “Feed the cat” or “Where are my keys?” Last night’s note was different, though. “Glee ship tuna” it says.
I sort of remember writing it. I’d had one of those key to the universe dreams and thought Must. Remember. Or. Die. It made sense at the time – something about going in circles? but doing it in spikes? instead of arcs?
- Was a ship circling a school of tuna while the soldiers sang with glee?
- Were gleeful tuna circling a sinking ship?
- Was a ship called the Gleeful Tuna floating in circles?
I do not know. But I am bereft at losing my own version of 42.
So here’s the deal. When I blog a lot, I don’t write much. And when I write a lot, I don’t blog much. Blogging and writing draw from the same well, and unfortunately my well just doesn’t refresh that quickly.
Writer’s Digest interviewed me about MomBrain, which was heartily gratifying (check your newstand in June). But one of their questions really made me think: “Why are you giving it away on a blog when you could be selling it as a column?”
The short answer is: I ain’t no ho. I do it for love, not money. In 20 years of writing books, magazine articles, essays, and reviews I have only once seen a letter to the editor about something I wrote. And that was because I made a math error in a software review. Imagine it: Innocent, dimply-cheeked MomBrain added wrong, and a flood of pimply-faced geek boys broke the magazine record for letters when they checked my math. (Hello? Get a life!) Oh – and once I got a piece of hate mail that called me a “scum-sucking smut monger.” That one arrived at my home. Thanks for the feedback!
Apart from that, nada. Writing for publication is like shooting an arrow into a black hole: you have no idea where it lands or how it’s received, only that it doesn’t come back. A $500 check definitely eases the pain, but hey – there’s that ho thing. Just leave the money on the dresser, and use the back door please.
Blogging is entirely different. No money changes hands. But I get comments. E-mail. Links. I know where my posts land, and I know how they’re received. I have a much stronger connection with my readership – and isn’t that worth something? Blogging just earns a different kind of compensation than writing for publication.
I genuinely believe this. But the part I didn’t tell the interviewer is that I like money, too. Sometimes I want to put on my fishnet stockings and do a bump and grind for cash. Everything has a price, and in the last two weeks I’ve been selling it left and right. I am nothing but a Hoochie Mama, and that’s alright by me. For now.
MomBrain has suffered a grievous loss. Somehow, while reorganizing my writing files, I deleted my “Ideas” document. It’s gone. Ffffffft. Into the ether.
I started this document 20 years ago. It has the name of every remotely intelligent person I’ve ever met and could possibly interview for any reason. It has every good and bad idea that’s ever occurred to me during my insomniac wanderings. It has many titles and beginnings – of essays, stories, articles. It has bullet points like “pop tart” and “sleigh bell” that I long ago forgot the significance of, but was afraid to delete. It’s the grist for my mill. And now it’s gone.
I did what any sensible person would do and immediately ripped open the Oreos bag. After it was empty I started pouring cereal. When that was gone and I was feeling sick to my stomach, I played sixteen games of Bejeweled. Now I think I will take a sleeping pill and knock myself out. Tomorrow, the reconstruction begins.
This wouldn’t feel so awful if I weren’t so SELF-ABSORBED and NARCISSISTIC. But hey – I’m a writer, a blogger, and a mom. Navel-gazing is my specialty.
Long ago and far away, MomBrain left a comment in BookAngst 101 that is still rumbling around in the belly of the blogosphere like a bean burrito threatening to blow. (Jeez I love alliteration.)
The short version is this: My financial adviser has informed me that I must die when I am 87, because that is when I will run out of money. If I do indeed live to 87, at my current rate of reading only one book per month, I will read only 516 more books in my lifetime. 516. That is a sobering number. But it is also liberating. Any book that doesn’t grab me by page 50 is tossed, guilt-free, into the Goodwill bag. Why waste my time and energy on a book that gives me nothing in return? Why give a lazy or bad writer one of my precious slots? Oh, I used to feel guilty. Once I started a book I had to finish it. I was committed. It was a matter of honor. Well, hah – I spit on your honor.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a snob. I looooove Stephen King. I cannot abide James Joyce. On the other hand, I owe Joyce Carol Oates my soul. And most genre fiction leaves me cold. I like what I like, and I don’t what I don’t. There’s no accounting for taste.
Anyway, the latest victim buried alive in the Goodwill bag is “Reading Lolita in Tehran.” Yeah, it’s a NY Times bestseller, blah blah blah – whatever. It should have been an essay, but somehow it got blown up into a book. The premise is interesting enough (real women in Iran reading Western novels, contrast lifestyle HERE), but the characters weren’t engaging enough to make me care about what happened next – the heart of any good story. That the characters were a bunch of women in long black robes with foreign names only made it harder. I lost my patience by page 30, and it made a lovely crunching sound as it landed in the G bag.
Next up: The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I am reading under protest because my book club is making me. But I’m liking it more than I thought I would, so perhaps it will avoid a donation bin demise.
Observant readers will notice that I have removed the NaNoWriMo link to The Amazing Adventures of Sister Sky. This is because I have grown too fond of Sister Sky and her mother, Candy Valentine, to subject them to an all-out sprint to 50,000 words by the end of this month. Oh, I could do it. Sister Sky could memorize the Old Testament. Candy Valentine could fondly remember an epic poem about Vikings crossing the north Atlantic. Heck, Sister Sky could just fall asleep and have a vivid dream about her life as a newspaperwoman, with a link to Odious Woman’s 48,000 word opus. “Then she woke up, and it was all a dream. The End.”
I do intend to continue. Sister Sky is in a deep hole right now and needs digging out. And I will keep it online, so bookmark it if you care to follow along on my shitty first draft. You will be rewarded with guns, dead bodies, an intricate puzzle, and a real Web site where you can find your own Valley-girl horoscope.
In an insightful piece of lit crit, my father has told me that Sister Sky needs to get down to brass keys. So she has. Today’s installment features guns, helicopters, and one brass key.
Someone lob me another softball so I can take a crack at it.
MomBrain must be on speed. What else could addle her brain enough to sign up for NaNoWriMo? What else could induce her to publicly embarrass herself by blogging her daily efforts? You may not laugh, and you may not cry, but you will definitely shake your head.
Check in every day or so to read The Amazing Adventures of Sister Sky. See stupendous feats of death defying courage! 50,000 words in 30 days! Can she do it? Hold on to your hats and watch those fingers fly! (Well, something will be flying anyway.)
Alas, the planets have aligned against MomBrain. Today, today I have a 1500-word article due. It is also the first day of NaNoWriMo, for which I am supposed to write another 1500 words or so. There is no food in the house. The Little Guy has a Halloween Hangover. My jeans are tight. And the toilet is clogged … again. I do not like this, Sam I Am.