It is week thirty-five of 2019. This is the sentence where I usually ask you how the writing is going. I’m not going to do that this week because this week is different. This is the first week of Fuck It Fall, which I am going to tell you all about after I warn you that there is going to be an extra amount of cursing in this newsletter. (Also, it happens to be my birthday, and so I get to do whatever the fuck I want. Isn’t that the point of birthdays?)
Here in San Francisco, fall is the time when the cold gray blanket of fog that has covered the city all summer gets whisked off over the ocean as the sun pours down over the hills that are now the color of a lion’s coat because we haven’t had any rain since early summer. The whole world is blue and gold, with the glorious rich shadows and mellow light of early fall. The sunset-red of the Golden Gate Bridge becomes so achingly beautiful against the blue sky and the golden hills that it could stop your heart.
If you are a parent of school-aged children, fall is also the time when you get back into a schedule, and when that schedule still feels fresh and welcome and you aren’t yet tired to death of fucking lunchboxes and forms and school assemblies. If you are a parent of school-aged children who also works at home, fall is the time when you remember the special quality of the silence in your home when you are the only one in it.
If you are a parent, one who is newly single, and you become fast friends with another newly single parent, you might decide that fall is a good time to be a tiny bit selfish and to say no to to some of the should-dos and yes to some of the could-dos, for no better reason than because you fucking want to, and that might be how Fuck It Fall is born.
And you might find that, year after year, Fuck It Fall is a state of mind you need to experience because it reminds you that the year is dying and we are all dying (as slowly as we possibly can, but still dying) and that this needs to be the end of thinking and the beginning of doing.
How does all of this relate to this week’s book?, you may be wondering. And how many more times can this woman possibly say “fuck”? The answers are: 1) I’m about to fucking tell you, and 2) lots.
If you are filmmaker David Lynch – author of this week’s book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity – you can tell your readers that meditation can help them shed the “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity” and deliver them to “an ocean of pure consciousness,” where they will find bliss but also ideas: “Little fish swim on the surface, but the big ones swim down below. If you can expand the container you’re fishing in—your consciousness—you can catch bigger fish.”
Also, if you are David Lynch, you can write a chapter titled “The Box and the Key,” the only words of which are “I don’t have a clue what those are.” And because you are David Lynch, and this is a book about consciousness and the mysteries of creativity, this pronouncement seems, to one reader at least, not like nonsense but like a koan reminding us to hold space for inspiration even when the fish refuse to take your bait.
And if you are David Lynch, you can spend years making Eraserhead and, at a particularly low point, when it feels as if maybe the only way you will be able to finish it is to substitute stop-motion characters for actors, your “very responsible” brother and father sit you down in a “dark living room” and tell you to give up and get a job, and you do get a job delivering the Wall Street Journal for fifty bucks a week and use that money to make the movie a scene at a time. Then years later you can find out that Stanley Kubrick, one of your heroes, invited some film crew guys over to his house to watch his favorite film and it is Eraserhead.
And if you are David Lynch, you can be filming in Italy and happen to hear that Federico Fellini, another of your heroes, has been hospitalized, and you know a couple of friends of his who happen to stop by and agree to bring you with them when they visit and you get to sit down next to Fellini in his hospital room and hear him talk about film, and two days later he slips into a coma he never comes out of.
I spent a lot of time while reading this book wondering if David Lynch could do all of these things because he is David Lynch, or if he is David Lynch because he can do these things. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.
What does this mean for you? It means that you need to gird your loins and hoist your tits and say fuck you to every imposter-syndrome demon and time-sucking monster that dares to confront you because this is Fuck It Fall, and it is time for you to write your book.
Find the room of your own. Find your mantra. Shed that Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. Dive into that ocean of consciousness swimming with idea fish. Figure out what the box and the key are for. Insist on being taken to fucking Fellini on his fucking deathbed. Whatever it takes, start fishing for those ideas. Start taking yourself seriously if you haven’t yet done so. This is the time. There is no other time.
Here’s to finding your fall, y’all,
PS: If you are an editorially inclined reader wondering whether Fuck It Fall should have a hyphen, I will tell you that mine does not but yours may.
Next week’s book: Elements of Fiction Writing - Scene & Structure, by Jack Bickham