Sitting here looking at my reserve list of blog ideas and my long list of emails from friends (some of which suggest links and subjects of interest) and even considering the Great Falls Tribune which I just snatched out of porch mailbox, hoping no one would see me au deshabile, which is probably hopeless (by now everyone knows every nightgown I own), I was trying to think what the common thread is running through all this stuff.
It is GAME.
That clicked when I read through the latest post from http://therawness.com. This absorbing blog is written by a young half-Haitian guy in New York City who is plenty intelligent and working his way through the classic systems of psychology and psychoanalysis -- the same ones I found so helpful in the Sixties and Seventies. My times, like his times, are highly turbulent. The issue at hand is two-fold: dyad success (BIG subset about sex) and career progress (BIG subset money). Myself then and this guy now badly need maps, strategies, insights, etc. We have lots of energy. Not always much clarity.
But our contexts are totally different, quite apart from me being older, probably twice as old. I was on the Blackfeet rez and then back in Portland which was my hometown. He’s clearly an metro-urban animal with Caribbean connections where I had rural assumptions. Our deepest sensory lives are probably from those assumptions, though technically I grew up in a quiet neighborhood. Our genetics must be pretty different, if only because he’s male and I’m female.
So I’m going to try to map out some game principles, working from what I think, because he has invited feedback. Mine won’t be terribly useful to others, but maybe.
STACKS OF CARDS:
What is the context of this game?
Who cares anything about it?
Which is more important: goals or process?
What skills do I, the player, have?
What means of communication do I have?
Where are my protections?
What are my markers for success or failure?
I’ll try this list out in backwards order. My over-riding marker is survival. If I wake up every morning and stagger out here to the computer, I’m winning. If the computer is dead and I have pencil and paper, I’m still winning. If I sit here blank, I’m losing. If I became a drunk and woke up hung-over, that would be losing.
My main protection is good will -- people around here are well-disposed to tubby old ladies because there are a lot of them -- and camouflage -- the assumption is that I’m like the other old ladies and I’m not. I don’t think I even fit into a sub-category though there are overlaps with other old ladies. My life-trip is pretty eclectic. I seem to fit with men in their fifties. Sons I never had?
Means of communication are email and blogging, obviously. I thought that if I blogged this much and this long, people I knew would understand what I was about and realize some things I thought they were ignoring or misunderstanding. (I want to write -- I don’t care about ANYTHING else. All things are measured in those terms.) I was wrong. Some people, the ones who know me best, simply will not READ my blogs, much less take them seriously. They don’t have time. But all the people I wave at (most of whom I don’t know) on the way to the post office, are completely confident that that what they see is what I am. Cheerful, poor, old, mild, discarded. I know the right chatter. ("Cold enough for you?") But at least two old dittos in this town are ENRAGED with me because I will not sit around with them having snarky regrets and obsessing about the fates of their descendants. To them this IS communication.
My skills do not include housekeeping or making money. I don’t care. Those are crucial skills in this town, but they have nothing to do with my goals. I suppose writing intersects with keeping order in terms of the writing and something that I don’t quite know what to call. “Nesting,” maybe. Routines and arrangements for creature comfort. My worst problem is keeping warm enough. So: heaters, fleece, hot liquids. I keep wishing for a nice deep bathtub. (I replaced the rusty shallow old tub with a shower.) Visitors say, with surprise, “your house is so COLORFUL !!” So I’m a bowerbird.
I get very exasperated with people who don’t understand writing (anymore than they understood sculpture or taxidermy or ministry -- people don’t understand skills). They’ll say, “Oh, I’d love to be a writer, but I flunked grammar.” The FIRST thing they don’t understand is that there are many different KINDS of writing. The collapse of business publishing was preceded by a collapse in a kind of writing. “Literature” doesn’t quite describe it. “Meaningful writing” is a solipsism. Writing out of the molten heart of driven necessity, that’s the kind I care about. NOT blogging. But blogging helps me get to it. This kind of writing is what I share with Tim, though he throws up a constant smoke screen that most people never see through. It has nothing to do with publishing.
One part of writing that DOES have to do with publishing is preparing a manuscript, editing. I don’t mind that, which is an advantage. Another part of publishing is agenting and I’m just dead in the water on that one. People think that females who can type are naturally going to be able to agent, but not me. It’s like standing on a street corner asking all pedestrians if they’d like to go to bed with me. NOT. Not on EITHER side.
Where I am bound to win is that my goal is my process. Short of losing my mind I can’t lose. Every day I get this blog out, I win. Then I have lunch and write stuff related to Tim’s work, and that’s the same thing. In the evening I read or watch a movie and that IS part of the process. Not just print flow, but idea flow.
Who cares? Individuals here and there. My contexts are quite separate so they don’t know each other: Blackfeet, Western writers and artists, liberal religionists, some environmentalists, other remnants of my scattered past. I don’t go looking for them. They just show up. This is not a marketing project. Tim cares. My Strachan cousins. (You don’t have to rush to tell me you care -- that’s pretty gamey. Control is not a game I relish.)
A wild card -- VERY wild -- is the demographics of my blog readers. I have no idea who’s out there and am sometimes startled when they drop their Harry Potter “Cloak of Invisibility.”
In the largest context maybe I’m playing a game with a lot more people that I would estimate and they might be totally different from what I think. The reader maps show Russia and Argentina (they go on and off), the US and Canada always, France and Britain, maybe Germany. (It's hard to see on the teeny map.) The hit graph (Blogger shows how many people open specific posts) is insane. It simply makes no sense. All I know is that “Naked Young Men” is a big hit, but “Anal Sex is not Unisex” is evidently not read by anyone at all. It’s not even on the list. There is insatiable curiosity about sexy suspenders, earwax and Michael Kitchen.
But I don’t care. I’m not writing for readers. My game is solitaire. Not even the unending search for a partner that preoccupies The Rawness.