# of literary mags submitted to: 2
other progress made: ummm, I’m sure my brain is working on something, unbeknownst to me
Last night I dreamed that I bought some toothpaste at CVS, but when I got home and looked in my crate of miscellaneous toiletries, I realized that I already had some. I was annoyed at myself for buying something I already had.
Compared to my dream about Angelina Jolie with baby heads for boobs, this dream is pretty lame and boring. But it seems to have a lot to do with what I’ve been pondering for the past few days.
It reminds me of what Socrates says in Plato’s dialogue “Meno.” That we possess all knowledge already, in our souls, and that “learning” is simply the act of remembering what we already know.
It reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday with Nikki in which I said, “well, if Socrates is right in some way, then the most important thing a teacher can do is give her students confidence in themselves, so that they can find what it is they already have.”
It reminds me of Sunday, when I was looking all day long for my favorite hair clip, and it wasn’t in my barrette box, or on my nightstand, or in any of its usual places. I got really excited when I suddenly found it in my own hair.
It reminds me of the Cheryl Strayed quote I mentioned a long time ago: “Your book has a birthday. You just don’t know what it is yet.” Back in the summer when I was floundering to get started on my novel, I clung to this quote for dear life, hoping she was right. And it seems that she was. I had a novel in me. I just didn’t know when it was going to come out.
(Incidentally, I might get to meet Cheryl Strayed at The San Miguel Writers’ Conference this February, where she will be a keynote speaker, and I will be a lowly 90-minute workshop instructor.)
Currently, I’m reading Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing. He talks about how, when he was a young writer, he made long lists of nouns, and the occasional adjective. He wrote list after list, feeling his way “toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.”
Sometimes he would pick a noun from one of the lists and start to write about it. Somewhere in the writing, a story would emerge. But the lists themselves, those nouns, they were simply things he remembered, things he had been frightened of, or fascinated by, as a child. They were things he felt passionately about, in one way or another. The stories he wrote, though they weren’t about him, were all birthed from his own memories.
He says, “when people ask me where I get my ideas, I laugh. How strange – we’re so busy looking out, to find ways and means, we forget to look in.”
Yesterday I started brainstorming about a new novel. I think I should check to see what I have already in my crate before I go looking for something new.
* * *
Bradbury also writes about having passion for your writing. “If you are writing without zest, without gusto…” he says, “you are only half a writer.”
This reminds me of an email discussion I’m in the midst of having with Paul, my okcupid pen pal. We’ve been talking about having passion for life, and what our passions are in life.
So I decided that today I’m going to make a comprehensive list of all the things I feel passionately about. And then, on days when I’m feeling less-than-zestful, I will pick something off the list and write about it.
Maybe, somewhere in that list, my new novel will be hiding.
YOUR ASSIGNMENTS FOR TODAY:
1. Make a list of all the things you feel passionately about.
2. Make a list of nouns, and an occasional adjective.
3. Make a list of words you think I should teach Sergey and then email them to me. That man is voracious for the English language.