When my youngest dog hits her exhaustion threshold, she does this thing where she winds up her body and runs around in crazy circles, hackles raised, barking and growling at the older dog. She runs this rant until either I or the older dog snap her out of it making her back off and stand still for some minutes. Until she gives in. Until she surrenders. It’s like she just has to get that last “something” out and the next thing you know she’s sprawled in a corner, out cold, at peace.
A woman recently asked a group of writers, “Who are you writing for, who’s your ideal reader?” In theory, you’re supposed to have a target audience in mind — one person, or a group of persons (people??) — and so I thought about this question for the longest time but couldn’t come up with an answer. Right now I’m writing like no one is going to read a single word. That isn’t to say that I’m writing a bunch of secrets or mind-blowing scenes; just that sometimes going quiet on the outside is the one way I can let loose on the inside. On the inside I don’t have to be polite or good or agreeable; I can write loud.
The other night I was at the dinner table with a group of folks and stuck my nose, or rather my voice, into a debate about (hold your applause) corporate tax law. Most of the table went quiet (who wouldn’t?) as a few (okay, two) of us ranted and I heard myself getting louder and louder, and at some point I saw myself as my young dog, running around in circles and barking and growling until, finally, thankfully!, somebody got up to leave and snapped me out of it.
The next day, when I told a friend how we’d spent the end of the evening, her response was, simply, “Yawn.” I laughed. She was right. And I felt sorry for the other people at the table who had to sit there and tolerate our loud circular debate to nowhere. Yawn was right.
I’m writing everyday, for what or whom, I don’t know right now, but it’s obvious that something in me is wound tight and making me barrel like crazy, ’round and ’round in circles. One last loud and exhausting charge, before inevitable surrender?
I wasn’t, I realize now, even arguing about corporate tax law at the dinner table the other night. Not really. It was just late and I was tired and I’d had too much wine and too much food and I was, like my young dog, exhausted by being good and agreeable and quiet, and I was making that last explosion around the room, running in circles, just trying to feel heard.