If you’ve seen me within the past two weeks, you’ve seen me wearing this sweater. I’ve written much about my shift to a more minimalist, functional wardrobe on this space–so much so that I’ve recently given away all my designer handbags to friends because I don’t want to form attachments to things I truly don’t love or need. Since we’re in the midst of monsoon season in New York, this lovely wool sweater has kept me warm on treks to the gym and lunches with friends. I still can’t get over the fact that Banana Republic is killing it right now. Murder in the first.
For the past three days I’ve locked myself in my apartment in an effort to revise my manuscript. I’ve received some exceptional and promising feedback from editors, and I’ve taken a step backed, cooled off, and, with a clear head, have been at work at a revise. And even though I’m an introvert, I get a bit loopy if I don’t at least hear people speaking for a few days. So on a lark I viewed the first two seasons of Black Mirror and I might as well have fallen into a black hole because I binge-watched this show, catatonic, all day yesterday. The UK import bills itself as the modern-day Twilight Zone (a bold statement since Rod Serling is THE standard), however, a show, which observes the many ways in which technology has and will change society, is remarkable. In “White Bear,” a woman wakes with amnesia. As the day unfolds she finds that she’s being hunted by various people while hoards stand back, silent, filming her with their cell phones. We later learn that her punishment for filming the death of a child is for her to relive the incident every day. Every night her memory is wiped clean while she watches the video she made in a loop, and the next day she wakes to the nightmare all over again. The story is rich in how it navigates participatory justice, celebrity in a cell-phone culture, regret and memory. In “Fifteen Million Merits,” a futuristic, ultra-virtual society where every transaction is intangible and everyone pedals a bike to stay alive, a talented singer is forced to choose between being an adult performer or a slave to a bike. Her choice is chilling, but the man who fell in love with her is changed and unchanged in ways that will surprise even the most jaded of viewers.
Suffice it to say if you want to think, if you want to question your relationship with your devices, watch Black Mirror (it’s on Netflix/Amazon, although I’ve found the full-length versions of the episodes I’ve mentioned online).
For two weeks I’ve acted like THAT ASSHOLE WRITER. When a very famous editor wrote that my work is serious, brilliant, but too difficult for an American audience, I wrote my agent that I can’t help that America is stupid, and no way in hell was I going to dumb down my manuscript. I suspect my agent has an endless reserve of patience (or he’s used to dealing with writers like me), and he told, quite kindly, that the intention is not to dumb-down my manuscript, but rather look for ways to make it tighter, stronger. And then I happened upon this article (my dear friend Amber has been telling me about Mark Manson’s writing since our trip to Thailand) on all the reasons why we fail. In short, I was arguing against advice instead of taking it. Manson writes,
Guaranteed express ticket to sucking: trying to be right instead of good. I don’t care what it is, if you’re more invested in arguing your point of view against people who are trying to help you than you are in improving yourself, then you’ve effectively given up. And for all of your brainiac debating, you’re still too stupid to see it.
I’ve learned a lot about humility over the past few months, and once I sat down to revise my manuscript (I’m halfway through the book), I was surprised and humbled over how much there was to edit. There’s not a page untouched by track changes.
Normally, I can’t read books that are similar to what I’m working on, however, I found re-reading Andre Dubus’ We Don’t Live Here Anymore to be of tremendous comfort. Re-reading his novellas on love and adultery makes me realize what’s lacking in my work. Yesterday (in-between episodes of Black Mirror), I revised scenes, stayed longer in them. It’s hard for me to detangle love from loss, and at one point I had to take a break.
Save for a workout with a friend and a lunch, I’m continuing my imposed novel-editing solitude this weekend. Know I will be eating copious amounts of this Coconut Peanut Butter. Another recommendation from my friend Amber, this butter puts all nut butters to shame. I actually tossed my peanut and almond butters after I sampled a spoonful of this stuff. It’s hard to explain why coconut oil and peanut butter work, but they do. OH, GLORIOUSLY SO. The delivery costs are a million dollars since the butter is shipped from Hawaii, but trust me, it’s worth every penny.
Finally, remember my long diatribe (I know, which one?!) on my Brooklyn BodyBurn challenge? My old workout gear isn’t holding up so I invested in some pants from Gap Body as well as these Zella leggings. You know you’re in deep when your workout gear exceeds your casual wear, becomes casual wear. GULP.