I’m close to finishing the book. I think so. No, really, I am. Maybe. It looks good. I don’t know. I think I can, I think I can. Somebody shoot me. Or get me some uppers.
I had an anxiety dream a few nights ago. I was onstage in the final moments of a big musical (that was being played in a gym/auditorium filled with my friends from all over the country including Joe Biden and the senator from Massachusetts, which one remains unspecified.) I had to sing the last song, an anthem, a cross between “Staying Alive” by Sondheim and “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles. Oh, and I am playing a gay man in my pajamas singing about the lost/dead love of my life.
Here’s the anxiety part: I know the song pretty well but not all the words
Curtain up and somehow there is a record player (old school) playing the song I am supposed to sing. I am sitting on the bed, my head in my hands, and slowly I join the recording, faking/remembering the lyrics. I get through the whole song but I have no idea if I got away with it, which is to say if I’d managed to put one over on the audience. I can’t recall if there was any applause.
This is my life as a writer.
Whenever I speak in public there are inevitably questions about the “process.” I usually say something about walking the dog and drinking coffee and now that I’m of a certain age, I may add something about taking a hit of Advil. I say the process is like watching paint dry. I really don’t know what to say. It would be too pretentious to say, “It’s a mystery.” (Favorite line from “Shakespeare in Love,” when all seems lost and the play must go on.) When asked if I “channel” my characters I say, “Not really. It’s work.” I try to sound cheerful but inside I’m seething. “Channeling? Are you kidding me?”
I think I can.