Wednesday, August 12, 2009

what have i been up to

Whenever anyone asks me what I've been doing lately, or even what I did all day today, my mind goes blank. So I'm writing it down. Maybe that will help.

I have an essay about crashing motorcycles in Ploughshares this month. (On the back cover, from guest editor Kathryn Harrison's introduction, it says, "In order to write our lives, we have to be willing to see them.") I also interviewed David Small, a children's-book illustrator, about his brutal and awesome graphic memoir, Stitches, for BookPage. And I wrote a short review of a decent little beach read set in Ukraine, Moonlight in Odessa, also for BookPage. The Lonely Planet Encounter guide to Stockholm is off somewhere in the gangly stages of production; I'll be answering author queries in a week or so, and then that'll be done. Meanwhile, I'm pitching a 555 motorcycle story to various places, fingers crossed.

I've also been getting back into movie reviews. I've done a couple of episodes now of "Movie Talk" on KBOO radio, hosted by Ed Goldberg and DK Holm. The first one was terrifying (it's online, in case anyone out there needs some schadenfreude). The second one was a lot easier, partly because I phoned it in from home. (Flat tire.) After both shows, I had this lingering anxiety I couldn't place. I think it's as simple as lack of control. I'm a slow girl in a fast medium: there's no time to tidy up the words as they come out of your mouth and make sure they're saying what you meant for them to say. If things come out wrong and you sound like a jackass, that's just too bad - you are now on record (in the minds of billions of KBOO listeners!) as a jackass.

If I were just talking to the fellas about the films we'd seen, maybe I wouldn't worry - although even then I get anxious if the conversation is rushed and I don't have time to fully explain myself. But the fact that the conversation is being recorded, and that it's going on record as my Final Statement about the films in question, freaks me out. Because it's definitive, I want it to be perfect. I want it, at least, to be an accurate reflection of what I think. And because I'm a slow-thinking person, that generally requires editing. Writing, rethinking, adjusting, deliberating, editing, rewriting. I don't want anyone to see what I think until it's ready. The fluid-but-permanent nature of radio makes me a little nervous. But that's good, right? And at least in the KBOO studio there is slim chance I'll come to any physical harm.

Today I'm reading Fred Exley, A Fan's Notes. Bottom of the first page: "That the fear of death still owns me is, in its way, a beginning."

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