Monday, October 26, 2009

A Girl and Her Rock

I have begun to blog. This after promising to never, ever blog so help me God. But here it is. Somebody check the weather forecast for airborne pork.

I've had good reasons not to blog until now. Those reasons are currently 9, 6 and 4 and before they were on the scene, well, gosh, we didn't have blogs back then. Plus there's the trend thing. As a card-carrying curmudgeon-in-training, I naturally seek ways to not join into trends, even accidentally, which is a lot harder than it sounds because let me tell you, those bastards are everywhere. For a while I figured not blogging was the literary equivalent of reducing my carbon footprint: if everyone's blathering, I'm going to shut up. For the sake of our children's children. That's what I told myself but really, the truth is I didn't blog for the same reason that a lot of people don't blog: I had a profound and pervasive case of 'who cares what I have to say?'

Nevertheless here I am, writing my inaugural blog -- hold on while I release the doves ... OK, there we go, had to shake the last one out, he was gripping the bars with his beak. I will begin by explaining why this blog is entitled "A Rock in My Pocket" and if this story holds your interest, I hope you will come back for more because if you value a good rant, then heck, I'm your girl. And I've been bottling it up for long time so I'm bound to get myself into a nice, soapy lather on a variety of topics including: coffee drinking, why I hate pandas, and Tiresome People and Their Works, all of which will be featured in coming days and weeks.

OK, let's get back to it: Many years ago when I was in writing school, I had a teacher who, on our first day of workshop, handed everyone a small rock and said, "Write about the rock." Oh-kaaaay. Write about the rock. Write about the rock. Well, gosh I'm sure there's something interesting about this rock or she wouldn't be asking us to write about it. Heck, every life has a story. Maybe this holds true for rocks as well. Maybe we are all the same, you know -- rocks, people. Aren't we all one? Maybe that's what we're supposed to write about. The oneness of things. We ARE the rock. Yes! That's it! No, OK that's way too whatever. Zenny. Is that the correct adjective for zen? Maybe it's Zennish? No, of course it's not. Zennish? What are you, a dumbass? Wait, everyone else is already writing. What do they know about THEIR rocks. Maybe they got better rocks than I did. Should I ask for a different rock? This one is so, I don't know, uninteresting. I mean that girl over there has, like, some Ivy League rock fer pete's sake. I've clearly got THE WORST ROCK IN THE CLASS.

I did end up writing something about how the rock was smooth and flat and would have made a good skipping stone because, you know, it would have. I don't remember the exact details but I can assure you, whatever I wrote, it was nothing special.

I gave up writing a couple years after graduation out of the same sense of duty that causes a young man of 28 to sell his amplifiers and get a real job because Dad wants access to the garage again. I had written my heart out, finished two literary novels that caused several well-respected agents to lose all their enthusiasm (if you get that joke then you have experienced the joys of querying), and I figured, well, there it is. It's not meant to be. Time to get on with life.


See, I had this manky old rain coat back then in graduate school (I had a manky old everything back then in graduate school). That day, that very day that I did the rock writing exercise, it must have been raining and at the end of class I must have put the rock in my pocket. And for whatever reason -- no real good reason -- that's where it stayed. In that rain coat pocket. For years and years and years. And then one rainy day I realized I'd been carrying that rock in my pocket for ten years. Then it was twelve. Now it's been fourteen. At some point during these past fourteen years, I looked at that rock and I thought, when I finally get published, I'm going to chuck this rock like a skipping stone, where I don't know, but that's what I'm going to do. I'm gonna send that rock flying.

I still have that rock in my pocket and it's still nothing special, but I love that stupid thing. If anything ever happened to it, it would break my heart. I LOVE MY ROCK. This skipping stone taught me that what gives something meaning -- what really makes something spectacularly important -- is that you keep on caring about it when no one else does.

So that's my story, and I'll bet right now your thinking, "Who would hate pandas?"
Until next time....