Friday, December 31, 2010

Conflicted

Good things happened in 2010. Max was born. My book came out. The Huffington Post gig. But that good stuff brought a lot of conflicting stuff too. For instance, 2 months after Max was born, I felt hard-pressed to promote the book as best I could. Leaving him to go to AWP was so hard. Or, rather, working myself up about the leaving was so hard. Being gone wasn't so bad. Fear of what might happen--like what if he doesn't sleep? What if he won't drink a bottle? What if Zoe throws up all over Erik? Admittedly, I didn't preconceive the throwing up and it did happen but the gist is, freak out or not, it happens anyway. My attempts to stop things with the power of my mind were no greater in 2010 than they were in 2009. I worry and stress and feel like crap about, for instance, the Huffington Post. Great as it is/was a collaborative project, I still had to extend offers, worry that I wasn't inviting everyone I wanted to (which I didn't and still want to invite people I just haven't yet and still had to worry almost daily how I was screwing that up. And still worry), send reminders, fix technological snafus, worry over artists' responses to writers' and vise versa, and generally hope I wasn't pissing people off--even though this was, in terms of out reach and artistic realization, the best thing I ever did. My book--it came out. It felt great and then I got addicted to that feeling and now I just want more more more books. I also wanted to change things and make new poems and make it an even better book although I think it turned out beautifully.
Here's another conflict--like breastfeeding Max. I should do it a lot! More! It's so rewarding. So bond-making and healthy-making. So there was no sleep and a lot of worry that maybe he wasn't even getting enough milk and how much milk does he need anyway when there's so much yogurt in the world? I still don't know but I do think we're on a weaning kick. In the middle of cold and flu season, should I quit? But what if one of my goals of 2011 is to sleep?
Like all goals, I'm pretty sure that just the act of having them makes them suspicious and unobtainable. If I say sleep, I'm pretty sure I'll get an extra dose of insomnia. And if I think I can think myself out of it, I imagine that mind-power I pretend I believe in will in fact guarantee 2-3 hours at night saying to myself, I really shouldn't think about sleep when I'm trying to sleep.
One goal of 2011 feels like it should be fulfilling obligations--do the best at what I've already set up. I'm supposed to be called for jury duty. Since I'm already thinking of weaning Max, my duty might be to go full force and do my citizenly duty. But then I'm conflicted that perhaps my real duty is to breastfeed Max in the middle of flu and cold season. I'm also supposed to interview biotechnologists in Phoenix on Wednesday. Is it my true obligation to keep those appointments?
Again, it doesn't really matter how much I worry or not about it. I'll get called or not and be asked to stay or not and there's probably not that much I can do about it.
Perhaps that's my real obligation this year: to figure out what I can do and can not change/make happen which is kind of like that icky serenity prayer/Sinead O'Connor song.
Last night, I was complaining to Erik that maybe my food book should be more like Nick Flynn's "The Ticking is the Bomb." More meditative and retrospective. He said, you can only write like you write which I strongly objected to because what then about revision and craft and manipulaiton of scene and voice. But on the whole, he's probably right. I write like I write. I will probably worry and not sleep. I'll probably breastfeed Max and then wean him and then breastfeed him one more time. And yet, maybe I'll do it enough that he sleeps through the night. Maybe I'll go to AWP. Maybe I'll invite all the people I want to to the Huffington Post. Maybe I'll publish another book and I'll love it even more than I did This Noisy Egg. Maybe I'll write a lot and revise less since in revising, I worry about how I should make it more like something else instead of just making it.
Maybe making it. That will be my goal of 2011. That's a goal that I don't think you can avoid and yet can be a great thing or a muddling through thing which will make it a lot like 2010 but maybe less fraught.

5 comments:

Erin Renee said...

Nicole Walker you are SO rad! :-)

Dr Write said...

All of this is so true. I think surviving, in one way or another, is a good goal. Also, writing like one writes and letting it be what it is, and not trying to make it like something else.
Whatever it is, I wants to read it.

Trista said...

Dear god, Nicole, sometimes you write just exactly what I need to hear. Making it. That's all I need. And maybe a 2011 that's like 2010 only less fraught. Change, growth, releasing, learning, shrinking, exploring -- all of it less fraught. Less freighted. Less frightened.

Lisa B. said...

2011 like 2010 but less fraught--that's a wonderful aim. I want 2011 to be like 2008-9, aka my sabbatical. But that's not going to happen. I want more of the good things, which I'm hoping will crowd out the fraught. Begone, fret/fraught! Fret/fraught is SO 2010.

Charlie said...

You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour.

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