This is what happy Petya looks like.
As I look at many of the things that I've done professionally and reflect on the fact that none of them have really given me a huge sense of accomplishment, I've recently started to realize that it's that 3rd grade feeling-- of total competence and creativity-- that I've been after and have not been able to reproduce. It is because of that 3rd grade feeling that I've enjoyed working on my various blog projects over the years. It was never quite the same but it came close.
A few months ago, I was telling Kyle about Lyudmila Zhivkova-- the daughter of Bulgaria's Communist Party Secretary for many year-- and how incredible her short life had been. She used to wear a turquoise ring and the thing about turquoise is that it changes color on contact with poison. At the very young age of 39, Lyudmila was found dead in her bath tub and one of her friends reported that her turquoise ring had turned from blue to white; a sign that she had been poisoned. I really wish someone would write a novel based on all this, I told Kyle. Her life is just so phantasmagorical and well documented but so under-analyzed. At which Kyle, being the kind of husband that he is, suggested that if I feel that there should be a book about this woman, I may just as well be the one to write it.
So I started working on this project that I call My Writing Project and I try to be as casual about it as I can because I don't want to be stressed out about it at all. I am writing about this woman that I find fascinating and her world that creeps me out but draws me in as well. I close my eyes and see dinner party scenes and then I try to get them down on paper, no fancy nothing... just recording what people are wearing and the music that's playing and where specifically the band have arranged themselves at the Varna Casino.
I have written the tiniest bit of it but I worked up the courage to share what I had with a couple of friends and that, kids, has been the best thing ever. Because even though I feel like a total amateur and not nearly as victorious as I did in 3rd grade writing class, I feel a similar kind of urgency to be doing this and something that I can only describe as joy after I've been at it for a while. My friend Rob, who reads my stuff, keeps quoting Barry Hannah... "the party has to be at the keyboard"... and I know that's just so right. Who cares if it gets published and chances are it never will, but for now, this is where things are happening for me. For the first time in a long time I feel that I am doing something that I've always been meaning to do.