Patience with a Deadline

28 Feb

optimism talking

optimism talking

Dear ayllu, there are a few reasons why I haven’t written in a while, and the main one is that I feel exhausted & frustrated. A few weeks ago, I wrote about loneliness, and received powerful responses from you. I guess it helped a few people out there to know that they’re not the only ones. Your messages certainly helped me.

So I got a part-time job at a lovely place called Café Naschkatze in Neu-Um, in the beginning of February. Naschkatze: lost in translation, that means “munchies cat” and refers to anyone with a sweet tooth… as you can tell by the cakes.

I needed the financial stability as well as something to get me out of the house. I got really lucky: the boss is a brilliant, humorous laid-back man, and the other people who work there, different backgrounds as we may have, all have a great giggle behind the counter together. The café has a sweet 1950s retro style, delicious waffles, really really nice clientele, all the food is organic and the cakes are baked by the staff!

your view of the bar

your view of the bar

if you go to the café tomorrow, you *might* still catch one of these delicious cakes!

if you go to the café tomorrow, you *might* still catch one of these delicious cakes!

I am really enjoying working there. I took over a couple of early shifts, which means getting up at 5 am to open the café at 7 am, which can be tough, but I’m done by midday and still have the time (if not always the energy) to get other things done. Strangely enough, I like the morning shifts because it means I can (sometimes) sit quietly on a bar stool, sipping tea, writing in my diary, watching the world outside wake up. Watching the blue hour has become my favourite past-time. It’s my ritual. I try to never miss it.

the blue hour

the blue hour

With a part-time job at a café, how much time is left for the writer?

When I first started at the Naschkatze, I thought: I would never have written a play, directed a film and published my collection of short stories, if I hadn’t been doing a television apprenticeship at the same time. In the two months where I could dedicate myself 100% to writing… I wasn’t. Surprise!

I just couldn’t focus. I’m the kind of writer who needs something on the side, something else to do.

So that I can sometimes:

  1. moan and tell myself You’re doing this for Qayqa! You’re doing this for Munay!
  2. take a break from writing and come back with fresh wind in my head
  3. get new ideas from the outside world
  4. actually socialise. In the months where I was supposedly only writing, I isolated myself to the point of having this conversation with myself: “Where did we put the pyjamas? We know we left them here somewhere.”

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I promised to be honest with you about being a writer. I’m the kind of writer who needs other projects going on, in order to write. I think I even need to read books on subjects that differ completely to mine, in order to write.

I also needed something to get my mind off Qayqa, because her progress is sometimes SO FRUSTRATINGLY SLOW. Mark hasn’t gone to walk around Turkey with sheep yet; he’s in Cologne helping his family and will be back in Ulm soon for the final steps of founding a puppet film studios. He has yet to tell me more. All I know is that it’s his dream come true, he’s really excited, and he’s been lining up a team of filmmakers and film editors.

That’s why the illustrations for Qayqa aren’t complete yet. I started going crazy about it until we had a late-night phone conversation in which I asked him to tell me everything else that’s going on in his life. As he began, I grew increasingly excited and happy for him, and it helped to understand why Qayqa isn’t done yet.

Still frustrating.

Then I heard an interview (yes, by Amanda Palmer) in which she spoke about her recent album. She said the magic words: “I didn’t want to put that record out until I was 100% sure that it was done.”

And there you have it.

This is the publication of my first novel. I can’t wait. I want it to be done as quickly as possible. But: it shouldn’t be published until I am confident it is done. Until there is nothing more to add or subtract. Until it is ready.

photo(6)

Good work needs time to grow, to mature. Every other day Mark calls me excitedly to tell me about the progress he is making. “I tried a different style… a different pen… Ink, not watercolours… It is much nicer this way!” And I see his work is growing, changing, maturing, as time passes.

That, my friends, is a very fine and difficult line to walk. But an important one. I’m trying to balance Patience with Deadlines; not thinking too much with keeping the energy up. It’s hard hard hard…

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… Keeping in mind that while time is of the essence, deadlines have to be met, just as book tours have to be planned. I can’t do a book tour unless I have a book to, well, tour. With Mark pushing back his sheep-venture-in-Turkey, we have more time to complete the illustrations. I’m not giving him all the time in the world. Just enough time to let the paintings grow.

Three weeks ago, I ran away with my circus for the weekend. We lived in a monastery nearby, trained all day, and worked on our circus performance in May. I wrote the story. We’re performing on 5th & 6th of May, but I’ll remind you!

unicycle ladies

unicycle ladies

a student practising her flexibility on the aerial tissue

a student practising her flexibility

I had taken Qayqa along to read to the kids as a bedtime story, but once the rest caught wind of it, it was quickly organised that I read to the entire circus troope on Saturday night.

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I was really excited to read to my circus family (and nervous). I borrowed a silver shawl from my roommate, gave a little speech in the beginning, and read the bits I thought they’d enjoy the most: about the magical plants… about the flying people.

One of the trampoline boys took lovely pictures of the event, which I am delighted to share with you:

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The energy in the room was fantastic. The circus kids listened so quietly, attentively, and we ended up having a great time together.

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I am always surprised by how much I love giving these readings. It’s really silly that I always forget.

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answering questions afterwards

explaining something important

explaining something important

But nothing beats giving a reading you felt was good, where you felt the energy charging in the room, and afterwards, seeing your audience smile and hearing them clap contently. That’s one of the biggest moments in life. I try to wiggle out of it quickly, I don’t know why some of we can’t enjoy our applause more. Just stand there and take it. I can’t. I wiggle out of it… and once I’m out, I look back and yearn for it.

But I have this picture, and it makes me warm and fuzzy inside to look at it.

photo(9)

A great present came after the reading. Two (trampoline) boys had expressed great interest in my book before the reading, and afterwards, they approached me and asked: “Do you have a cover picture yet?”

I thought of Mark, but then I was curious to see where the boys were going, so I said no. Their eyes lit up. “We can draw one for you!”

Later that evening, as I was doing my rounds in the rooms (telling Black Stories to my students, scolding them for eating sweets after brushing their teeth, etc), I found these two boys hard at work, pouring over the small table in their room.

This is what they were doing:

by dominik

and

by tilman

I think this is one of the biggest moments that makes you believe that all those hours alone in your apartment were worth it. That all that dreaming “one day I’ll be published…” is reinforced; all those  times you said “yes, writing is really a profession” are blown away.

I’ve got to get these framed.

And it got all the wheels in my brain turning about a childrens’ book of Qayqa… One step at a time, Ritti! One thing is for sure: these pictures will be published in Qayqa come summer. This I promised the boys, and then they were too excited to sleep.

ulm-in-winter

I know from some of you (I read every single email) that you’re just as exhausted, unsatisfied, frustrated as I am. Is it the season? The incessant darkness?

Sometimes we have ART to help us through. I have my writing. In an ever-changing reality, it is the one thing that never left me. The one thing I always had and could always rely on. But I don’t always turn to it, and frustration / loneliness is a difficult place to write from.

Here’s another reason why I didn’t blog that much: blogging (but especially twitter) gives me a sense of megalomania that I simply despise. So it helps me when I get those emails from YOU OUT THERE, asking where I am and when I’ll blog again. It helps me realise that I’m not doing this to feed my own ego, but because YOU really want to know about the progress of things.

I hope it gets better soon. Is it getting better for you? How do you cope? I’m coping by working at a café. Until it gets better, please know that if you’re feeling exhausted, impatient, frustrated and dissatisfied: I know. I really know. If you want, write me. We’ll talk.

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this is how pretty Ulm can be in the cold

On a different, completely unrelated note: If I could be a man, I’d want to be Ray LaMontagne. You know the power music, when you listen to a song and feel: I am understood. You are singing my thoughts, my life. 

Well, that’s Ray…

Tell me I’m wrong:

He’s all you’ll hear on the stereo when I’m working the early shift at Café Naschkatze.

Apparent from his emotional value, his value of attire is what I have been planning for my readings of Qayqa: 

Ray in "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise"

Ray in “God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise”

Some of you will know my gypsy / storyteller outfit.

Encuentros 14.10.2011  (18)

There has to be a way of combining the two. Qayqa is, after all, a combination of the two. I’ve been dreaming of somehow combining burlesque / cabaret with the gypsy storyteller and the 50s Southern Gent. One is magical, the other two are fun. Qayqa is both, all the time.

I’m still working on it.

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3 Responses to “Patience with a Deadline”

  1. Gerhard March 3, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    Dear Ritti,
    I read your blog over and over and I always stopped when you said you just couldn`t focus, that you need `something on the side, something else to do`. That you`re interested in things that differ completely to your very straight and clear project. I`m not a writer but I can imagine that it`s not easy to concentrate on the one and only theme and that it feels sometimes like there are a million pieces in your head of ideas and ways to go.
    It remembers me of a quote of F. Scott Fitzgerald that I have to think about quite often recently:

    “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Continue your route even when you go apparently opposed ways. It will result in a bright and clear realization where you feel comfortable at the end.

    Gerhard

  2. Alba March 4, 2013 at 2:56 am #

    Ich wusste, dass dein Blog mir schneller antwortet als du. Aber für ein paar Planungen wäre es gut, wenn du es noch persönlich machen würdest. Ich hab Sonnenbrand.

    • rittisoncco March 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

      Kleiner Kuchen, der Blog ist meine bessere Hälfte, meine effiziente (aber nicht sexy) Sekretärin, die Blondine die in kurzer Jeanshose mein Auto wäscht.

      Ich bin der unerreichbare Hefner, der jetzt seine Eltern bitten wird, mein Gepäck zu wiegen, dann werde ich Dir alles sagen können.

      Ich denke viel an Dich. Danke für Deine wundervollen Emails. 🙂 Ich bin bei Dir! Pass auf Dich auf, iss ganz viele Charadas und leg Dich immer zwischen 12 – 14 Uhr in den Schatten!

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