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dreaming of calamity kim

I told my boss a few weeks ago that I am thinking of a career change. I’m not trying to leverage a raise or anything like that; I want to do something different. I want to pursue something that’s more closely aligned with where my heart is now: writing.

I love my job. It truly is the best job I can imagine, but the thing is I’ve been doing it for going on 8 years, and I’ve been a part of this institution for almost 14 years. I’m ready to do something else somewhere else. I’m ready to focus on my biggest love. Ready to teach creative writing to younger students. Ready to influence students in the way I wish I’d been influenced. And I’m ready to move into a job that will give me the time, space, and momentum to be a better writer, a more consistent writer.

It’s time.

And yet.

It’s a frightening idea. There is, of course, the fear of loss of security. I have a pretty good situation: a decent salary, terrific benefits, and a job that I know isn’t going to go away. So there’s this part of me screaming that it doesn’t make sense to leave.

For a while I thought it’s the fact that 40 is bearing down on me.

I think of all the options out there, all the things I could do. It’s pretty amazing to recognize the possibilities. That I am capable and qualified to do many things. The world feels really big right now.

The other night on the drive home I had this epiphany:  I’ve settled down, my life is secure and still. I have a wonderful love, a good home, a good job, a good set of routines. I am physically and emotially stable. There much rhythm to my life, perhaps too much. I need a little (self-created) chaos.

I need the chaos that creativity brings.

I spent a few (all too short) days at the ocean with my friend Ant a couple weeks ago—our annual writing retreat. I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I’d hoped. I mostly blame the weather. It was sunny and clear, and too warm for November. Ant and I craved rain and wind. We wanted to watch the storms come in. Instead we walked the dogs on the quiet beach. It was perfect for reflecting, horrible for writing.

But I did get a few things done, and, more importantly, I came home fired up, ready to write more. I’ve spent more the past two hours in this chair in my favorite coffee shop, working on three haibun I started last year. They’re nearly done. I think.

And now it’s on to the next thing. More writing. Figuring out where this project is going. Polishing some short stories and readying them for submission.

But I need a spark. I need chaos and mess. I need something that will keep me going. I need to be around more writers. I need to be further from administration and management and closer to craft and process and storms. I don’t know if I can sustain this on my own. It’s scary. I’ve started and stopped far too many times. I’ve written about starting and stopping too many times.

So I posted three haibun today, my show of commitment to Acceptance and proof that I’ve been doing something other than poking around on Facebook on this dark, dreary evening. The sky looked heavy earlier. I’m waiting for the storm, for the wind and rain and words to fly wildly, dangerously


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there, i wrote something

I’ve met some interesting people lately, some of whom I’ll likely never spend time with again, and some of whom I’m forging new friendships with. Like Linsey, who’s sitting across the table from me right now, writing a blog entry on bodily fluids. About every three minutes or so, she starts laughing. Bodily fluids crack Linsey up. Linsey cracks Linsey up.

Meanwhile I’m feeling floaty; I’m moving from one idea to the next, unable to follow anything through enough for it to become a full entry.

I’m finding that the things I’ve been writing about lately often bring me down. I can only maintain a serious tone/focus for so long. And as much as I want to stick with this project, to commit myself to it wholly, I don’t know if I can maintain this level of focus without giving myself an additional project to work on at the same time.

True, it’s only been a week since I revived this blog, but I feel like I’ve found my rhythm, and I don’t want to lose it. I’ve felt good about blogging (almost) every day. I’ve written every day, and some of it hasn’t (and won’t) make it to the blog. Were someone to ask me about my process (which they often do), I’d say that my writing comes in spurts. I go through more dry spells than anything. So when the rhythm comes back, I do all I can to maintain it. I’ve had some late nights this week, which has resulted in some sleepy days and miserable mornings. But I’m okay with that. And I think it’s something I can (fairly easily) adjust to.

This morning I started revising one of the June stories, “Through Parted Curtains.” I’ve sent it off to several lit journals, only to receive one rejection after another. The problem lies in the voice. The narrator is 11, and the voice is much, much older which, obviously, won’t work. I poked at it a bit, but am hesitant to cut some parts of it. Faulkner would tell me to kill my darlings, but it’s hard. I am attached to the language, which is always a dangerous thing for a writer. I can’t bring myself to edit some sentences that badly need editing, for the sake of the story.

So what’s there for me to write about—what is there that sticks with the theme of this (newly revised) blog—that will keep me from painting myself into a corner?  I don’t think it’s important that I laugh as much as Linsey, but I’d like to at least smile from time to time as I write. And I’d like to write stuff that keeps my reader here. I don’t want to meet the same roadblocks I met with Unplanted; I don’t want to fall into something that sucks me under so much that I stop writing.

It’s also true that I don’t want to write about Linsey all the time. I think that might make for some awkward situations. And it’s a little creepy. Besides, if you wanted to read about her, you could just go to her blog.  (For the record, I take full credit for inspiring Linsey’s post on bodily fluids.)

So maybe I could write about this. I read the story this morning and I smiled. The short version, if you don’t want to read the full article is this: a woman with a heart condition passed out in the middle of the street, and apparently no one came to her rescue. But a pit bull did. The dog sat by her side and barked until the woman’s husband came out to carry her home. Luckily, the woman survived.

The story doesn’t say whether or not the woman wanted to keep the dog. What it does reveal is that Ontario—where these events took place—does not allow people to own pit bulls, regardless of whether they save lives. (Don’t get me started on the irrationality of breed specific legislation.)

As I was driving around this morning, I thought about how poorly written the story is. I thought about the pieces that seem contrived. I thought about the parts that feel, well, made up. How is it, for example, that no one came to the woman’s rescue, in spite of how clear it was that she needed medical assistance? And how does the author know that this is true? Who reported that the dog sat by her side barking at traffic?

These things are important to this story. It is crucial that a storyteller know what she’s talking about.

Linsey, for example, is actively researching bodily fluids.

I, on the other hand, am doing very little, and I think that’s okay—for now, anyway.