On October 24, a good friend, who also lives in Denver and with whom I earned my MFA, emailed me and asked, "Okay, so NaNoWriMo. I kind of hate it but I kind of want to do it. Thoughts?" My first thought, of course, was no fucking way in hell. If you are not familiar with this sequence of letters (which is neither an acronym nor an abbreviation), it stands for National Novel Writing Month, during which participants are tasked to write a fifty thousand word novel within the thirty days that happen to be the month of November. NaNoWriMo stands contrary to everything that I believe about the writing process, and, with my chronic writer's block, the proposition was, on its face, absurd. But, after I sat on the email for a day, I wrote back to her, "I really kind of fucking hate nanowrimo, but, if you still want to do it, I'm in."
I have had chronic writer's block since the late autumn of 1997. Typically, it is something that I live with, like high blood pressure. At times, it abates completely, but these times are few. More common are the times when I sit down to write and, depending on the nature of that which is to be written, by when it needs to be written, and the living context — my life circumstances at large and immediate — I fall victim to an anxiety attack. This is no way for a writer to live.
In the summer of 1990, I was a second-year freshman on the cusp of becoming a second-year sophomore. I was twenty years old and an English major with an emphasis in creative writing who had yet to even take Introduction to Creative Writing, which was a popular elective for the seniors and juniors who had registration priority over me. I had taken a semester of creative writing during my sophomore year of high school, and I had earned a 4.0 in freshman composition during my first quarter at the University of Washington. I read a lot, but mainly I read trashy books with characters flatter than cardboard and pathetic, clichéd plots. I knew nothing about writing and had read almost nothing that I would, now, considered literary fiction. But, somehow, that summer, I managed to write a not-that-bad novel in six weeks.
I'm cursed with an exceptional memory, but there are eighteen months, during the first and second grade, when my parents separated and ultimately divorced, that I barely remember at all. This means that the story that I'm about to tell you must have happened in the first grade. It's not really a story, though. Not unless not having a story can be a story.
My daughter, Lucy, turns two years old today. Not everyone expected this would happen. My wife, still in her second trimester, collapsed with recurrent eclamptic seizures on the night of September 4, 2012. She was in her twenty-fifth week of pregnancy, so early that I had not yet felt Lucy kick. Eclampsia is deadly, both to mother and daughter, and its only treatment is delivery. There was no time to move her to a delivery room. She was in critical condition, and the obstetrician chose to keep her in the emergency room where Lucy was delivered by c-section. Lucy's initial Apgar score was three. She weighed 630 grams, which is a bit over twenty-two ounces. Take one half and five sticks of butter. Put the butter in a paper bag, the five sticks side by side, the half-stick atop them, centered, like a head. Now, wrap up the butter and hold it your arms and you will know how tiny Lucy was when she was born, some thirty minutes before a nurse led me to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and I was able to hold my daughter for the first time.
Some stories that I will write on this blog will be true, and some will be lies, but chance favors most of what I write being part untruth and part fact. I may identify the imaginary, and I may finger the fiction, but I will not always do this, and, if and when I do mark writing on this blog as duplicitous or veracious, you should remember that anything that I write here could be a lie. But, when I do lie, it will only be for that I want to make all that I write here as authentic as I can.