If It Doesn’t Come First…, Part III, The Pit

Continued from Tuesday, October 26 post

Casa Amiga Murals, Rich Yañez

When I don’t write, I fall into a pit, and all the demons kept at bay by the consistency and power of my words start creeping in. They set up residence in my head and have their way with my thoughts. Suddenly nobody loves me and the people who once did are secretly plotting to keep me from ever writing my book. Suddenly I can’t make simple decisions like what to wear, and none of my clothes fit right, and if only I had more time/money/energy, I could buy a cute wardrobe and never again have to face the what-to-wear dilemma. Only I’ll never have money because I am a writer, and if I do have money, it will mean I have no time, and I am getting older which means I will never have as much energy as I do right now.

The pit sucks.

Ofrenda 2010, Henry Rael

It’s November. Things are dying. Henry and I spent last Saturday pulling up the lettuce and cucumber beds. The first frost blackened our basil. The few remaining grasshoppers in our yard have turned in color from meadow green to slate. And they don’t hop. One stands perfectly still on the south-facing wall of our house, soaking up as much sun as it can. Two others made their way into the office to mate. It reminded me of scenes of the apocalypse in movies, couples clinging to one another because the world is ending and they want one last sweet taste of life. Soon our yard will be filled with the dead leaves of our Chinese Elms and the neighbors’ cottonwoods. More for the compost. Death turned to life.

Autumn Leaves, Henry Rael

Some things I need to kill. Nature takes care of itself. But my life feels unnatural in a fundamental way. I am not writing enough, not as much as I should, not as much as I need or want. So it is time to look at my life the way I look at my yard. Pull up the plants that no longer give life. Shake a few trees so the leaves will fall; knock down a Chinese Elm if I must.

ATTENTION: As of November 14 (the day after the Otro Lado Storytelling Event), I am on deadline with my book.

Deadline, Michelle Otero

Please do not ask me to join a committee or attend a rally or volunteer at your place of work. Please do not offer me a contract or a reading or a workshop or a class between November 14 and the end of January. If you do ask, please expect to hear me say, “I am on deadline with my book.” If you call or email in the morning, please do not expect a reply until after 1:00 PM. I know you mean well. I am fun. I work hard. I care about people. I am a good teacher. And I am a writer, the only one who can write my book.

I am available for afternoon and evening activities with family and friends. A walk. A talk. Clothing exchange. Late lunch. Yoga. A hike. Running the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. (I realize this is not an afternoon or evening activity, but it is social and physical, and I wouldn’t be writing at 7:00 AM anyway. So put on your running shoes and join me in preemptively working off that Thanksgiving feast.)

This is my fall and winter devotion, an early Lent. I might even renounce chocolate (gasp!) or all sweets (double gasp!!) until the book is finished. Stay tuned.

Thanks to ArtSpark and its founder, Kristine Maltrud, you can play an active role in the writing of Vessels: A Memoir of Borders. Visit ArtSpark at http://art-spark.org/ to learn about the role of social media and microfunding for artists. Then, check here in one week. My next blog post will feature an excerpt from Vessels, my work plan for the next eleven weeks, and a formal invitation to join the Vessels Crew.

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Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 11:13 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Michelle, thank you for this post. I support you in pruning and killing off the things that keep you from writing. I’ve been (and am, actually) in the pit. I am thinking of what in my life needs to go so that I can climb out of the pit.

    • Our writers’ souls tend toward expression, toward light. Even when we are in the pit, it is only temporary. Our stories help us to climb out.

  2. You are not alone in falling into the “pit”, but I’m not glad that you experience them at all. I wish I could walk, do yoga, talk, or have a late lunch with you….Writing is one of your gifts, my friend, and we all receive that gift. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Avi, for first lighting the fire under me. I remember your words every time writing is difficult.

  3. ah, Michelle. I have been pretending to not be in the pit for too damn long. I admire your commitment to yourself. something I can emulate.
    And give me a holler anytime you want to go for a walk!

    • We can climb out of the pit together, one word at a time.


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Vessel

a person regarded as a holder or receiver of something, esp. something nonmaterial

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