I don’t know these buildings, I think I’m lost

I don’t have to make the 35 mile drive into work for the next 11 days. I’m so happy about this, I could scream.

I’ve been looking forward to this stretch since October since this is the first time I can be truly and utterly alone for an extended period of time. I’ve been planning to just read and write as much as is humanly possible (with a few holiday parties thrown in).

Lately, I’ve been reading Jo Walton’s Among Others and for the past week at work, I’ve been spontaneously gasping, then reading sentences aloud to my coworkers. They really couldn’t care less, which makes me really appreciate that they’re willing to humor me when I’m geeking out about a sentence.

While I haven’t finished it yet, this book is already doing strange things to my mind. I feel like I’m 11 again when my dad gave me The Thief of Always, or when I was 23 and reading Sandman for the first time. There’s something breaking. Or healing. I don’t know which yet since a lot of the time they both start off feeling the same.

Anyway, Among Others is a story about a broken, isolated girl who’s only comfort is science fiction, which she immerses herself in and writes about in order to understand and escape from herself and the world around her.

Wait for it… wait for it… there it is.

There was some back and forth on twitter today after I said reading this book makes me want to fold my hand and walk away from the table. It’s beautifully written, and fuck me, Jo Walton can break my heart with a SINGLE FUCKING WORD.

It’s strange to read something so fucking inspiring and simultaneously humbling. It makes me think about how we come across things in our lives that appear at just the right time – say when where we’re undergoing a period of growth or change, or when we start crippling ourselves with doubt. Or maybe both.

Among Others is a writer writing about writing. A science fiction story about science fiction. And it’s so many more things than that. It fucking blind-sided me.

My favorite stories are the ones that are superficially satisfying enough so you start peeling back the layers and, once inside, you can admire the structure of the themes, or the narrative or both. With this book, when I start peeling I see clockwork. It’s painful.

It shows me how lazy I’ve been. How inept. And all the while, thinking these things while reading a story about an extraordinarily angry and sad girl hangs onto her sanity by writing. Sting. Sting. Checkmate.

There are so many things I need to work on to get my writing where I want it to be. Thinking about how each breakthrough has come through a combination of brute force, dumb luck and too much daydreaming… Getting to that point feels impossible.

But at the same time, MY GOD the payoff if I can get it right… even if it’s only once. I mean, I’m addicted to moments like these – where something unexpected knocks you right out of your melancholy rut; where a small epiphany sets off a succession of epiphanies that leaves you so wrung out at the end that there’s no choice but to stand up a different person. I love that. I’ve loved it ever since the first time it happened to me when I was a kid, and I’ve been trying to do it to someone else ever since (you may think it’s advice I’m giving you, but I’m really I’m just trying as hard as I can to blow your fucking mind).

So yeah. My brain is in pieces on the floor right now, so I’m gonna go finish reading this book.

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1 Response to I don’t know these buildings, I think I’m lost

  1. beagley says:

    Loved this post. Striving. Appreciating. Knowing. And heading back to the table.

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