Friday, May 4, 2018

Eva Gonzalez : my (small press) writing day

7:23 PM
The child screams through the monitor and we are all awoken. She likes to wake up with flare.  Every.  Single. Morning. I wouldn’t change a thing. She’s like her mama. We wear our emotions on our sleeves. She’ll probably suck at poker for the reasons I do. That isn’t to say I haven’t taken money from seasoned players now and then.  I let my daughter see that I’m holding aces. She needs to understand what will win the pot. 

Poker stains the walls like cigar smoke
The stench of old jokes and mind games
 Counted cards and folded friends

10:40 AM
Between cleaning and figuring out lunch, I think about the prolific Isabel Allende.  If only I had ten hours a day to write, rather than two. It’s too bad for my book I like to keep a tidy house. Someday. And someday I won’t have a cute toddler to spend my day with.  Such is life. 

            Time is the sky wearing a purple dress
Calling the moon her lover

I am reminded of how eating with my father was often difficult. At times even the best of meals turned bitter in my mouth having to see him sitting at the head of the table. Only my brother was allowed to sit to his right. 

                        My father was a rock.
                        At times I stood behind him,
                        Hidden from the beating of the waves.
                        But often,
                        When salt stung my eyes, and the current shoved me into him until I bruised,
I wondered why
We didn’t just go on land.

2:15 PM
The brain fog hits. I’ve never been punched in the head but I think that this is what it must feel like. I brace myself for the storm that arrives on schedule and am comforted by the fact that it will coma as surely as it will go.  It only lasts for a couple of hours, but during that time it’s like I’m floundering in gloom. God… will my brain ever heal from those awful pills I reacted to? Doctors are the new drug dealer, getting paid on the side to pedal goods they barely understand. 

It’s not on his Wikipedia page but it was all over the news when he died. Chris Cornell had a similar reaction and he didn’t make it, so I feel like one of the lucky ones.  And whether or not this gets better, I’ve decided to live my life full of gratitude. Writing my novel has been a huge help for my psyche, somewhere to go when I need to get away. 

I also remind myself that I have gleaned so much wisdom and understanding regarding human suffering and what it means to overcome withdrawl, (albeit without the pleasure of doing the hard drugs), which may become a priceless resource for my writing.  Haikus often reflect on Buddist zen. Sometimes I write one to remind myself to relax. 

The dog sniffs his bone
Starlings swarm in a pink breeze
There is only now

2:15-3:45 PM
I am engulfed in a merciless, mental murk. I tell myself that it’s much better than it used to be, and it will only improve. I focus on the first time that I felt sunlight on my face and it didn’t hurt my brain. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

                        Darkness is
Understanding light.

3:45 PM
I don’t notice that the fog is lifting but suddenly my mind starts wandering and I come up with what one of the characters in my Harlem story will say to the other. I’ve been struggling to put the right words in his mouth and I think I’ve finally got it. First draft got it, not final draft got it, but it’s still exciting to have figured out the gist of it. Writing is like putting together a puzzle, fitting the right pieces into the right slots, all while riding a rollercoaster.  I grab for a pen and paper, maybe the kid will let me do a bit of writing before demanding I pull out the playdough.  I am reminded of some Yakuza poetry I read a long while ago.

                        Crisp autumn Tuesday
He fits neatly in the trunk
                        Bright red Camaro

3:45 – 5:15 PM
Blue seals barking and pink hydras dancing. I love my kid. And surprisingly, playdough. 

In fifty years
                        You won’t remember  
                        That we sat and played
                        But your heart
Will not have forgotten

5:30 PM
I steal a minute or two before Joe comes home and do a bit of automatic writing. This is what came out of my mind today. I ruminate on the idea that our several “minds” fight with each other and the outcome is what we call consciousness. I think I’ve got characters in there.   Yellow fog and yellow smoke and window panes seem to make their way into my automatic poems a lot.  The women come and go, and there’s the pot, boiling over. My best line from today’s automatic experiment: 

My mind is the landscape where every horse I’ve ever seen lives

6:30 PM
Dinner. I have a husband who thankfully doesn’t mind hearing about the intricacies of writing a sex scene, and how sex in literature is political. The actions you describe serve to inform the relationship, there are matters of consent, there are issues of keeping it tasteful but interesting, and it goes without saying that the female must have a voice in it all. In my book there is an interracial/intersexual sex scene so there’s that too. Tone became supreme in that case.   

The writing can’t be mechanical but you have to give the reader something to go off of. Writing sex scenes is almost exactly like writing battle scenes, you give the reader enough information to know what is going on in general but leave the details to their imaginations, for the most part. It is more important to focus on what the characters are feeling, and how the action impacts the plot and character development.  I love writing battle scenes. They can be sexy too.         

7:45 PM
My friend had her baby! All I could tell her before she went into labor was that parenthood is the brightest heights of joy mixed with the darkest depths of fear. Joy for seeing the face of generations in front of you, joy for the look in their eyes the first time they appreciate a sunset or the moon rising, fear for the challenges that the little being you just brought into life will inevitably go through. 

I almost send her a text talking about my character Isa and how she was part of a difficult birth as well, but now is not the time.

9:03 pm
The first thing I do once my daughter is down and my husband is watching his sports is open up YouTube and look for either Lazaretto by Jack White, Do I Wanna Know by Arctic Monkeys or anything by Interpol. Tonight I’ve decided to listen to a playlist starting with Evil by Interpol. Being pleasantly unsettled by dark guitar riffs is imperative to my writing process, it’s like sinking in to the embrace of an old friend. It keeps everything in me awake.  Maybe this is why my writing gets really dark sometimes. 

The second thing I do is crack open the Saskatoon Berry ice cream of glory. We got it on the weekend on our visit to the Saskatoon Farm. If you have small kids and you haven’t been there, you’d probably like it. They have a chef in their Mexican restaurant named Chino. That’s how I knew the place was legit.  It’s a nickname that gets used all the time in Latin America.

10:45 pm
I crack open “Midnight’s Children”, one of the books I’m currently reading. I get through as much of it as I can given how tired I am, because as anyone who has read Rushdie knows, reading his work is like watching a dramatic fireworks display unfold on every page.  His work is gorgeous, but I find reading it on the demanding side. I’ve got a chronological glossary of obscure or foreign words he uses in the book open on my computer which I refer to at least once every page or two. His brilliance is dazzling.   

11:30 pm
I stayed up way too late again. I’m going to regret this in the morning, like I always do, and then do it again tomorrow night, because until this book is done I really have no options and refuse to rest like normal people do. 

11:35 pm
Lights off.

11:45 pm
Goddamm it, that’s what exactly what needs to happen with Udal and Saumya! I fumble around in the dark for my phone and type notes. Fuck, now I’m awake again. Ah well. It was worth it.

11:55 pm
Lights off. This time for good.

Eva Gonzalez calls Calgary, Alberta home. She has had poetry published in Filling Station Magazine and NoD Magazine. After receiving an English BA from the University of Calgary she started working on her debut novel, due out sometime in 2019.  Also, she once defended experimental poetry as being poetry at a public trial once in downtown Calgary.

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