Sunday, June 13, 2004

J.D. Salenger is a demi-god to many. I didn't have to tell you this, surely. But I wasn't entirely aware of his status, of how deeply held he was until Joyce Maynard got up to read our second night. Woo-wee. She is of course the woman who had a year long romance with Salenger when she was 18 and he, 53. And she is the same woman who, 25 years later after sitting on that experience decided she would finally write about it. And she is the same woman who also got terrible criticism for doing so, not--I think--because she "exploited" her romance with him, but because he is just too close to literary deity in this country. It's like saying she fucked Siddartha Gautama, and he turned out not to be such an enlightened guy after all.

Although she didn't read about fucking him (though she did lose her virginity to him), she talked about being inspired and then reviled quite harshly by him, I was so fascinated by the percentage of people thoroughly pissed at her, considering her exploitave and wrong and dismissing her. I think she's certainly a complicated multi-faceted person, and one of those facets may include the desire to use her experiences to make money...but good ole' Jerry Salenger is just another writer, moreover, a purist, one of those who believes there is truly a line between "making art" and "selling out." And I realize I don't see this line. No. I don't believe in this line. It's a myth, clearly born in the mind of the artist themselves then fed to the public where it gets reinforced. Salenger was one of those and I will forever love his writing but not his philosophy. I think you can make art and make a living from the same tools.

What else must I remember to tell you about? Martha Cooley who I have disparaged in the past for being quite uptight, is more accessible than I expected and though she is going to ride my writing ass this coming semester and I will be sweating blood by the end, I'm looking forward to it. I can do it.

I'll be seeing you. I know my blog won't be featured in any newspapers anytime soon.

Friday, June 11, 2004

I knew that this blog would eventually come in handy, like now, when I am at Bennington and can catalogue the experience for you folks who've followed along as I set off for school again after pretty well assuring myself I'd never go to graduate school. Now, mind you, I'm typing with a nasty kink in my right shoulder which is in part from lugging my one ton bag around New York City and up and down massive flights of stairs...of course the kink didn't happen until I innocently leaned down to plug in this here computer I'm writing from...but I bless the pharmaceutical company that gave me Aleve and write until it wears off.

Day one is technically today. Day 0.5 was arrival day yesterday which was lovely because it meant a transition from the 90 degree muggy capsule of heat that was Manhattan to the temperate, breezy verdancy that is Vermont. The most interesting part of today was actually at breakfast, where our dear director Liam Rector actually sat at the same table with us plebian students. If that wasn't terrifying enough what with his massive bear/king persona, he actually began talking to ME. And we got into a CONVERSATION about how I'd been raised by hippies and he seemed actually quite interested in my upbringing. He suggested I ought to write about it...qualifying with "I'd never tell anyone to write about anything...but if you get taken by the subject..." and I had a truly pleasurable give and take with him that felt very natural. And later I saw him at the book store where he stopped me to discuss it even further. He said "you have to remember that our generation(who really experienced the 60's) are all've got an audience of 70 million who'd love to read about themselves through your eyes. Which validated the novel I want to begin writing and for which I'm taking notes because it will depend upon the main character having been raised a lot like I was...though unlike me, she will turn into a seeker the way her parents were, and take it much further than they ever did.

It's a slow first day with lots of punctuated pauses between conversations and I'm spending more time inward than outward this time, which is good. I feel like now something serious is about to take place...possibly as I approach what I'll do for my lecture, though that is still technically a semester away...and something internal just feels as though it is about to flower out from inside me.

I decided not to have lunch with John Talbot in NY...because I didn't really relish the idea of sitting across from yet another lunch he'd insist on paying for and saying "well, gee...the novel hasn't sold how bout them Dodgers..." It's early in the process yet and it's been, in its own sad way, reassuring to know that others are having trouble with their sales...some B'ton friends of mine here too...I think this might be one time when the rumors are true about the publishing world.

I have the world's worst mattress in my room and I'm located behind a toilet where I was woken periodically throughout the night to the gentle sounds of people tinkling. Lovely. Other than the usual personalities, the borderline southern gal who drives our classmate Joe crazy by cornering him and telling him what's wrong with his work (last semester she told him his stuff reminded her of "Dilbert"), to the out of work actor who reminds us at every turn of both his acting and his zen practice. The newbies look as terrified as I felt my first semester, but I'm having fun. I know enough people, faculty and students alike now that I feel a part of it all.

So...if there's more tonight worth mentioning I shall post it.