Wanting to Be Good & Failing, Cyst Update

art of writing, compassion & care

I spent some time this morning making notes on a new section of The Long Work (I’ve taken my letter-sized Levenger Circa out of retirement, and it’s doing me just dandy right now — if you’re interested, there are plenty of ’em to be had for cheaper on eBay). A lot of what I’ve been thinking about, and talking to Miriam about, is the novelistic trope of people striving to be good and failing. Often miserably. & it recurs in both of our novels over and over again. There’s something that feels sadistic, as the makers, in creating people with flaws that undermine their desires to be good, and yet it happens so often outside of the fictional world — not just not wanting to be bad, but actively wanting to be an admirable, functioning, contributing human being, and then mucking it up, perhaps beyond repair.

But I do so badly want my characters to be happy, or to reach some kind of contentment and resolution. Though I am utterly pulled toward the type of endings that are a la There Will Be Blood.


My gut tells me that this particular ovarian cyst is not going to go away on its own, and the pain is increasing daily, although it’s still manageable enough for me to go to my day job. I’m concerned about strenuous activity for fear of rupture, but Dr. K says that if I eliminate all activities that could cause rupture, my life will become incredibly circumscribed. We’ll know more after the in-depth ultrasound next week, she said. I don’t want to go back to being in the pain spiral of being on daily Vicodin, though — Vicodin has a depressive effect on me, and the doctors are always reluctant to prescribe Percocet, although it certainly works.

What concerns me right now about the cyst — which I’m fairly certain is not cancerous — is that surgery means more time off of work. I already took a month and a half off for the last surgery, which wound up being complicated by infection and back problems. I went on government short-term disability for that, but ended up with a check that covered less than 1/10th of my rent. There is also a chance that a surgery would happen 2-3 months from now, which is when I’m to go for a month to the Vermont Studio Center for a writing residency that I’ve been absolutely looking forward to, thinking that I’ll be monastic and knock out the final third of The Long Work in a month’s time. (My first ovarian surgery in 2007 prevented me from going to another writing program, this one in New York, for which I’d won a full scholarship and had to decline.)


And, finally: if you’ve emailed me over the last few weeks and I haven’t responded, I do appreciate your patience. While I have read your email, I’m still mulling over what to write back.

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