Polishing My Dick

by jkatejohnston

8 July 2015

Dear Max,

I’m wanting to throw a scold into myself for acting like such a prissy perfectionist. I keep re-writing the beginning of my fish book—eight times the charm! And I can tell you it’s ended up pretty charmless. I’ve polished the life right out of it. And in the meantime, what is this story about? (And by the way, it’s not very polished either. It has mistakes, things that don’t make sense.)

I need to remind myself that lawyers and journalists often end up as writers because, for better or worse, we’re professionals. We write for work, and we complete things. So—get on with the story and stop fussing. But I resist the idea of being a professional. It sounds so uninspired. And I know inspiration doesn’t have such a great reputation—at least I’ve never respected it—but I’ll take all the inspiration I can get.

And so I’ve fallen–fuck!–between two stools: too artistic to get any work done; too professional to do anything really surprising. I can’t seem to find the life of the thing, and I’m pissed. Maybe I should take some of this anger and use it to put some life into the book. Anger is a force. It’s energy. It moves. Who cares if it’s destructive? I could use a little destruction right now.

13 July 2015

Dear Max,

I’d have a crisis if I knew how.

I took an Oprah Magazine quiz on Joy and totally flunked it. It seems I can’t tell the difference between Joy and Satisfaction.

Then I took the quiz on Worry and scored in the Chronic Wallowing range. The quiz was full of trick questions, or just things I didn’t understand: “I don’t believe my thoughts.” Strongly agree? Strongly disagree? On a scale of 1 to 5. Does this mean, “I’m aghast at my thoughts—I can’t fucking believe the shit passes through my mind”? (Strongly agree!) or “I think my thoughts are total lies”? (But how would I know that?) But the stumper was, what are my thoughts? I couldn’t remember any. Next question: “I believe life is full of danger.” I’m sure the correct answer was: 5, strongly disagree, which just seems delusional. I gave myself a 3. I know life is full of danger, but I’m distracted enough not to feel scared most of the time.

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