Jeff Probst, host of the “reality” TV show, Survivor, has a tag line. “Survivors, ready?”
I will not sit at my desk and write.
I will snort one more
line of blow episode of Survivor.
Jeff Probst is a savage in a baseball cap and khakis. My son once described him as a dad who shows up for your baseball game eighteen years in a row and counting.
Probst has tanned arms.
I have been snorting
lines of blow episodes of Survivor a couple months now. Right up the nose. Junk. Thrilling junk. Shit burns. Your eyes water. Worthless junk. Familiar junk. I have seen all these seasons before. I know who will win, what Probst will say.
I know. This is certain. No other way.
Something sweet in the familiar. Something pointless. Something reassuring, like when a man wraps his tanned arms around you, and you stroke those arms and feel safe.
I had this dream the other night.
This semester, I decided to start over with my English 112 class. Threw out the familiar. Same old. Yawn. Decided to go with something new. Shit. This leaves room for mistakes. Classroom activities that bomb. Writing assignments that blow up in my face.
Every class this semester is another chance at failure.
I am excited.
I snort Survivor.
So far, my students and I have read and written about a poem called “Our Deepest Fear,” in which the poet, Marianne Williamson, suggests our most ingrained fear is not that we are not good enough, but that we are, in fact, good enough, if not better.
We have watched and discussed a Saturday Night Live skit, “A New Day,” in which the writers suggest people give up too easy. We lack fortitude. Resilience. Why bother to incite change when anything we do will make no difference anyway?
We have discussed “grit,” and what that means, and whether we are gritty people or not, and how grit, also known as passion and perseverance, trumps IQ, talent, and good looks. Crazy idea. We have discussed and written about Angela Lee Duckworth’s suggestion that in order to succeed, we must be willing to fail.
Are you shitting me?
What does failure look like? How does it feel?
Today, we discussed “instant gratification” versus “delayed gratification” then watched a TED Talk called “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow.” Not yet. Wait for it. Hold out.
Where does life happen? The journey or the destination?
Where does sex happen? Foreplay or orgasm?
Where does a relationship happen? A commitment or the chemical reaction?
Where does a novel happen? Writing the thing or publishing it?
I am writing a novel. This novel excites the fuck out of me.
I snort Survivor.
This week, my students will give presentations in which they talk about a longterm goal they have (delayed gratification) and a “marshmallow” they keep shoving in their mouths (instant gratification) that interferes with their ability to see that longterm goal through. I am starting over with my English 112 class. I am writing a novel that excites the fuck out of me. I am forcing myself out of my comfort zone every week and enjoying new experiences and meeting new people. Also, I snort Survivor. Over and over.
I have started over before.
I have started over more times than I can count and reinvented myself. Adapted.
I have written novels before. I have finished novels, actually.
I am no stranger to the stamina and faith such a feat entails. I know all about time and effort. Couple years ago, I published a book. Here’s the thing.
At that point, your book no longer belongs to you but to the world, and they will do what they will with it. My ex didn’t even read my book. He decided it was that awful.
I live for the process. I love the journey.
Writing is a labor of love. Discovery excites me.
I fall in love with my characters and learn so much.
The end result blows, actually, saying goodbye, being finished, but mainly publication, when you hand that result over to other people. If you do. Here’s the thing.
Other people judge you.
Won’t read your book.
Worse, they might read your book and praise you.
Rock and a hard place, that’s the thing.
They hate your book, and you are a terrible writer.
They love your book, and you are a terrific writer.
Catch 22. Both could be the death of you. If you hand the end result over to other people.
If, in fact, the end result is the point, the thing.
I started over with my English 112 class this semester. I am writing a novel that excites the fuck out of me. I had this dream the other night. I snort Survivor.