Flo Davies Doesn’t Write

This spring, I took my longest writing hiatus since leaving my MFA program. If I’m completely honest, I had stopped writing long before that. “Actual” writing had morphed into semi-nonsensical mini drabbles in my phone’s notes app or half-cooked upstart blogs or semi-fleshed ideas for other books and pieces when inspiration briefly poked its head out of the gopher hole. If words decided to show the fuck up, I couldn’t do much with them. Couldn’t place them in the right boxes, incapable of synthesizing them into process, into action. Most importantly, nothing “real” developed in the stagnated novel I’ve puttered around for years–just ephemeral and farty go-nowhere to nothing mind butterflies (trademark pending).

Unlike prior hiatuses, this spring felt intentional somehow–like I had purposefully put my nothing money to my empty mouth. The difference came through the wide berth I had placed between myself and words, despite being in the business of it for work. Hell, I pretty much stopped reading novels for the first time in my life. (Dafuq?) Sure, the odd piece of fanfic would strike my fancy. (Above all, I find the Star Wars Rey/Kylo Ren ship sailing the Tumblr seas Twilight-levels of problematic, but somehow, the high school emo kid in me with skater carpenter jeans, ironic tees, and a love of nu-metal Incubus is rather tickled.) But not much beyond that. I revealed in Netflix. Shook a leg for Hulu. Discovered Steven Universe, and I’m not mad about that at all, actually. I hadn’t even done a great job of escaping words. Not really. Just buried mine under the avalanche of helping others advance their work instead of my own.

The impasse between myself and words felt cellular in miles. I almost think of Marvel’s latest, Antman and the Wasp, as the two lovers shrink down into atoms and learn to dissipate into the Quantum realm, the nothing in between everything. There, they truly are nothing to every person they matter to–all that, with the threat of never leaving that in-between space; they give into their devolution willfully, to see themselves trapped inside a sunken place of their own choosing. Potentially, without a lifeline back home.

A few weeks ago, my friend Stephanie and I had a rather adulting taco lunch with my friend Patrice, and Steph, once again, reassured me that not writing, or even struggling in my five years post-MFA, were all apart of the normal, nay, accepted bullshit of writing—the effective trajectory of the second book slump. “It’s all okay,” she told me. “Better even. You probably have more to say.”

It’s hard for me to grapple with the idea of that break, that distance–feeling accepting of it or daring to call it earned. I think about my last year, about how I’ve recently come to a “sort of” terms with uneven bones that I can’t change and thin spine discs supporting my mama-given ass that just won’t quit. These are my depression discs, I’ll tell my kids. Always on the mend. But I think I have to believe that I am more than the sum of damaged parts. More than that, to quote the effervescent Pose (a show that rocked my vacation this week, lordy LAWD), I have to believe that I choose to make myself. I can make myself into a person who lives to support the writing, despite everything else. Afterall, everything else is just farts and giggles. Gravy, but not quite Spam. Never, ever, potted meat.

I can engage this writing relapse, I think, because I already am.

I’ve probably written more in the last month that I’ve had in all of 2017. Not gonna lie–it’s a high that I’d like to replicate and put in one of those baby bongs I had in high school, the not-at ALL stealthy pieces I kept in my parent’s garage. (That youthy paraphernalia, long gone, will be denied if ever asked about much like the 45’s current Cheeto Regime does with facts, empathy, and logic.) Having something to say that, more often than not, doesn’t suck out the gate (been working on those affirmations like a BOSS) makes me want to jump kick–almost as if my chiropractor hasn’t banned me from doing anything of that sort for the rest of my half-life.

These days, I’m officially accepting of this progressive phrase: Flo Davies Doesn’t Have to Write.

But sometimes, she does.

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10 Appropriate Responses When Asked If You’ve Finished Your Long-Awaited Novel

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Tell it, sis. 

  1. The direct. “No. I have not actually. Pray tell, how many novels have you written around your 9 to 5 lately? …YOU DON’T SAY?”
  2. The off-putting. *whispers loudly* “Still waiting for the main character to die in real life. Shhh…”
  3. The abrupt. “How about you warmly fuck off?”
  4. The honest. Blink rapidly until the tears of seasonal MFA regret manifest.
  5. The politically savvy. “I actually don’t think my novel is right for a Trump presidency.”
  6. The African’t parental. “No, I don’t regret changing my major from Genetics to Creative Writing during undergrad. Yes, my GRE math score was higher than my verbal.  Yes, math IS in my genes… Sigh. Yes, I saw Barbara Walters at that bookstore I worked for that one time…”
  7. The African’t parental 2. “…Did you just ask if a book is gonna marry me? Now, listen here–“
  8. The not in your life. “The woman who pushed me from her innards hasn’t read my book. Why the hell would I show it to you, beggar random?”
  9. The quit your job and write full-time. “Baha. Get out of here with your privileged Lena Dunham fever dream. You ole coot.”
  10. The See, what you not gon do. “Pause. It’ll get done. On MY terms. And you’ll probably be the first (last) to know. But bet your ass, I’ll finish this book before I pay back these student loans.”

Do Not Mourn This Dead Weight

I give a reading in two days, and for the first time in forever, I haven’t quite shaped what I’m reading yet.

With two days, tonight forces process. Tomorrow focuses on the performance.

Readings shove me into revision which is a neat parlor trick. If I struggle over words, if the cadence is amiss, if I can feel the slow dead air in the pace of the read—I cut. I prune. Hack against them keys with Krueger-like swiftness.

As if a wind in your apartment whispers every so often:

“Cut it all, you silly bitch…. Kill those darlingsss…”

10 Reasons Why I Haven’t Written a Blog (Until Now)

Michael Ché’s expression here pretty much sums up my 2017. Everything sucks. Everything is sparkly.

Writing. Shockingly enough, writing is happening these days. Novels are getting writ. Shorts are shortier. Result? Actual writing leaves less room for writing-related thoughts. Meanderings. Jaunts? Who knows—my anxiety might finally allow for a Flo Davies piece to face the literary journal circuits this year? Three cheers for crippling rejection and thick skins!

Exercise. My spine (and its degenerative discs) and my mismatched bones have semi-ceased their active assault on my person. These issues manifested in April and pretty much had their heyday during summer 2017 (not to be confused with summer 2016, which was owned by Drake, our resident favorite sad). Physical pain has been a flash dance on my synapses, kids. The absence of “stabby stabby, fuck all” leaves room for many jigs. (I twerked a little at my friend’s wedding in August. I mean, Nikki Minaj won’t write any raps about it, but it totes happened.) While correlation may not always relate to causation, Flo Davies can finally continue gym work towards her one-woman mission to have arms that resemble any part/form/strength of Michelle Obama’s. At this point, TBH, I’d settle for a thigh. Hell, not even both of them.

Work. My professional life boasts a fairly relaxed schedule: Monday through Friday, 9ish to 5ish. No one really checks in on my whereabouts unless I’m super missing (I’m also a color-coded Outlook calendar queen, come fight me.) My status as an upper-level administrator allows for some minute flexibility. And yet, call it that Afri-can do spirit (there’s no such thing as African’t), my obsession with detail and press towards hard work make it difficult to not think about work… well, when I’m not at work. (I swear this wasn’t supposed to read like a humble brag. I’m actually a captain of the USSR ship of Delightful Problems.)

Promises. Because I rebuff humanity but also like people, I often offer to assist folks with their tasks—mostly to the detriment of my time and sense of accomplishment. Technically, I’ve improved on my use of ‘No’ when I’m at my pinch points. It’s my whole following ‘No’ with, “Fine… what is it and how long do I have before it’s due?” that’s kind of a problem.

Side hustles. (noun) – the many ways that Flo will take on things she can’t time afford for less than $100.

Familial obligations. The Africans known as my relations have been peak themselves as of late. I live an hour and change from where most of them reside, which is just inconvenient enough for me to get by with bi-monthly visits, but still close enough that a strong wind causes me to feel my mom’s African guilt.

Politics. And now begins our end of days. The 2017 political climate is hard to place into words. Sometimes I’m convinced we’re all in the same shared fugue state. This is the Matrix and we’re all waiting on an ambiguously multi-racial Neo to rescue us. There is no spoon? Fuck spoons. An entire alien race is probably observing our Earth movements in some far away joint in The Milky Way and even they’re fucking confused. Possibly horrified. All I know is when history looks back on this time—who am I kidding? Everyone knows they won’t allow for frivolous book learning when we get to those camps that comprise New Panem.

Twitter. Against all good reason, Twitter decided recently to go against its own ethos, brand, and sense of dignity to test out an additional 140 characters for its base tweets. That’s right–280 characters. This fact has nothing to do why I haven’t blogged, but see–what you’re not gon’ do, Twitter, is eff with the artful concision that comes with a well-crafted 140 character tweet. Was Satan present during that developer meeting? Why y’all got to be so extra? All we asked for was an edit button, profiles on desktop, and maybe doing stronger checks on any asshole that doxes a feminist or drops a “nigger” on anyone darker than a sandy beach.

Television. Great googly moogly, there’s a ton of fantastic television happening right now. Can you stand it? (Of course not. You’re probably sitting down.) Between watching live tv for live tweets, catching up on my Netflix queue when I’m not following my Hulu watchlist (while my shared Amazon Prime adds its new originals), I’m finding a sense of time, food, and water hard to come by. Not to mention that the fall show seasons have started assaulting us all, father God. Between bets on what new shows will get canceled by November vs. shows that I already watch taking a “rebuilding season” nose dive, I haven’t made room for much else. When I go silent, someone make sure that my ass doesn’t graft itself to the recliner in my living room, please and thanks.

Blogging as a mode. Y’all don’t own me. Ya bishes.

The Island of Misfit Blogs

I often wonder about abandoned blogs.

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The boss ass header from my most favorite blog I’ve abandoned.

I wonder if there’s any research on this specific type of biting disinterest. A Tumblr hell for sad-sack reblogs, perhaps? If there is indeed a purgatory for ousted Google and Facebook employees, it’s probably The Island of Misfit Blogs. (I’m pretty sure the island is where MySpace resides. By the way, is Justin Timberlake still the ambassador for MySpace? Does he hate himself?)

My mind twists in the weeds over this subject simply because this blog, shiny with its new car smells, marks the sixth one I’ve attempted in my 30 years of half-life.

Some stats: I actually had to count. I forgot one. Three of them are/were on Tumblr. One had a Sweet Valley High focus that I kept semi-running with another SBU alum, now a published real. The one that will probably keep me from running for office serves as my Harry Potter fandom repository. You can wand fight me—I don’t care.

My Twitter proclamation (Christ, how that sounds in the year of our tired most based god 2017) of starting a new blog was, of course, met with immediate derision. A writer starting a blog in the midst of a lagging project is often called out for their tomfoolery: stalling tactics. A cheap ploy of false activity destined to detract oneself from “the work.”

The writing is the work. It will always be the work. But this blog could be work, too.

(It could.)