To put it mildly, I’ve been dealing with an overabundance of feelings. Apparently this is all very healthy and normal, and I’m handling it with the closest I can come to grace. “Grace,” for me, is crying until snot falls, flailing around my bed like an angry pre-teen, whining to any friend who will listen until he or she says the one thing they all say, “You will be okay.”
Visiting my book at a store the other day, I came across Andrea Seigel‘s To Feel Stuff. I was drawn to it for two reasons:
1. It had a main character who is constantly sick, which is something I’d been trying to work into my hour-long show.
2. It was sitting next to my book, looking like it wanted to hold its hand.
I’d heard Andrea before, on Pinky’s Paperhaus, discussing Like the Red Panda. She had a sense of humor about her writing and getting published, and since I rarely have the patience to sit through an entire podcast, I knew it was a good sign that I was willing to sit still at my table, drinking coffee and listening to her talk.
[Sidenote about all this feeling. It has made it so that I’m not typing so well these days. I just tried to spell the word “talk” as “taughk.” And I keep swapping “sense” with “since,” which I don’t usually do. The other day I lost my keys under my cat. I looked for fifteen minutes, knew with utter certainty that they were somehow under my cat’s fat ass, and then slid his butt over a few inches. They weren’t there. Turns out they were under his fat neck. This may have nothing to do with all my feelings and exhaustion, but it’s weird that the cat decided to use my keys for a pillow. Oh, yeah. All the feelings make it so I don’t really keep a thought going for very long. It’s awesome. I sound like a crazy person.]
The book? Are we still talking about that?
I took it with me on a trip, thinking I’d read it on the plane. I didn’t. I was too busy feeling to open a book. I took it with me on an unexpected trip, thinking I’d want to use it as a form of escape [Just tried to type that as “excape,” which is how I used to pronounce it, back when I lived in Mississippi and didn’t know any better]. But again, all the feelings, and the snot, made it so I packed and unpacked the book without opening.
About two nights ago I couldn’t take all the feeling anymore. I finished the Zippy book, which had me crying on the last sentence, and I really didn’t think that was going to happen, but I knew it was because I’ve been The Amazing Emotions Girl for a while now. I could dive into some kind of sterile non-fiction Wonder Killer book, as I’ve got a pile of them waiting for me, but I kept getting drawn to Andrea’s book. So I started.
You should know right now that the author has just published her second book at the age of 26, and her writing is so good it makes me want to cut it up and paste it to canvases and display it in public where everybody has to see it, where everyone will read it because if they aren’t, they’re missing out.
Here’s how good: when I went to post this book on the reading sidebar, I read through her Amazon page and saw that she was doing a reading at Book Soup the next night, where she was going to dance.
I went. She danced. And then she read a couple of chapters, which were the ones I had just read a few hours before while waiting for a meeting. It made my day feel like it had gone in a circle, her voice tapping into my short term memory like that.
Waiting in line to get my copy signed, a woman came up to me. “Excuse me,” she said. “Would you have any idea where in the book she was reading from? Because she didn’t say the chapters.”
I flipped to the pages. “Here through here, and here through here.”
“I knew you’d be able to help me,” she said. “You just validated all of my thoughts. I looked around at this room full of people, and I knew you would be the one who would know the answers.” She said this like I was about to win a hidden camera contest, and at any moment balloons would fall from the sky and a giant check would appear and somehow I was the Most Helpful Book Soup Fangirl.
“Oh. Well, glad I could help.”
“And I bet you know why she read these two chapters out of order, too!” she said, beaming.
“Actually… because the story is told through three characters, she had to skip to keep the story going about the waffles. And I think she chose to read this character out loud because the other two are male. Or maybe this one feels the closest to her. And you could tell the waffle story without having to explain too much else.”
Again she smiled. “I knew you’d know that, too,” she said. “You must have gone to Brown.”
Andrea Seigel went to Brown.
“No, ma’am,” I said. “But thank you.”
Please forgive me, Bevo.
And then I dorked out in front of Andrea while she signed my copy and I went home and read another fifty pages. It makes me jealous in the good way, and it has made it so I absolutely have to work on my own novel. This is hard to explain, but it’s so easy to put off writing the novel, when there’s so much to do and it’ll seemingly never be finished. It’s so much easier to do all the other little jobs, return all the email, the phone calls, get the oil changed, schedule a dentist appointment, do the dishes, spend two hours at Whole Foods — anything to avoid one more chapter when there are so many chapters that need to be written. But then I’ll see a movie or read a book that reminds me why I like telling stories, and I start hearing the voices in my head again, and the story starts moving around inside my head, and if I don’t write it down it feels like my brain is playing a constant puzzle.
So I’m going to take all of these feelings, and all of the words and scenes bumping around in my head, and try and get some typing done. I just hope I don’t spell everything incorrectly, as my fingers seem to have been the last informed that I’m trying to get some work done.