A. has been a saint. Forget what I’ve told you privately, he has. He’s been a saint. I’ve been neurotic and panicked and aghast and alarmed and unkempt and seriously rattled. All week. And he’s been a saint. Why have I been rattled? Because I want. to finish. this BOOK. I hate it. I hate my book, it’s why I have to send it away — out, out of this house book, get out! Every time I look at it, it gets worse how can that happen? Even when I sneak up on it, open it quietly while it’s not looking, it still catches me at it and gets worse!
Yesterday I made a grievous mistake, I read my “cut” files. I save everything I cut, you know, my cut files are brilliant — yes, brilliant. No, no, that’s not good, that’s terrible! I read through the cut files yesterday, and they were brilliant and so much better than all the crap I kept. So what do I do about that? Sigh. I put them back in, I guess. Or I just send the cut files out with a synopsis and hope anyone who reads them is drunk.
This book is a story about a woman, her name is Ellen. It’s about a marriage, too, their name is Jenks. (It doesn’t have to be Jenks, I’m not wedded to these names, if you want me to use your name I’ll use yours, send it in!)
It’s a story about the maddening isolation of life. Or maybe insulation. You see? How can I write a synopsis in these conditions, I still have no idea what it’s about.
It’s mostly about terror, actually – the terror of loneliness, of insects, of loss and love and connecting, and also not knowing how to ever connect again. It’s about the terror of doorbells during the day, and home repair and back pain. It’s about the terror of Repetition — (shudder) — of doing the same thing day after day, after day after day after day. Yes, it’s mostly about Terror. And also the futile pursuit of everything, we’re all chasing the wrong dream. We are.
Ellen cannot connect with her husband in a way that feels good to her, he cannot connect with her. He comes home and pulls into the garage and shuts the automatic garage door behind him then clomp-clomps up the stairs. “Do I have time to change?” he asks. “Yes,” she says. She is usually stirring something on the stove with a spoon, desperately wishing she were stoned.
He smiles, she smiles, and that way they go on. Later, sitting down, he will tell her about a client and the traffic. He’ll be secretly thinking about Tara Bauer, the new sales rep on Team 2. She’s never stirred a thing on the stove, he bets. She wears nice clothes.
Ellen will tell Howard things, too. Mundane items, usually, concerning the kids. She won’t tell him about her own work, it’s dull. She edits technical papers for engineers, she wrote a proposal for a fish screen that day. A fish screen, they go on dams – no plot, no character, no narrative thread, thus nothing to tell. About that, anyway.
On the other hand, Howard may, or may not, be interested in how she spends her days — at least one, and sometimes two of them per week at the Raintree Rehabilition and Care Facility with a former lover, Reed. Reed lives at Raintree, in a persistent vegetative state. Ellen misses him when she’s not there.
Anything else and I’m spoiling the end. I can tell you it’s happy, though. It has what my screenwriting instructor calls a “button.” There’s a big surprise, and a button, and in the end you’ll feel good.
There is a shrink named Dr. Head (Jacqui Head). There are neighbors, there’s a feud. There are an alarming number of spiders.
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