Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Once more, in hope and fear of Smilin' Bill.

Am I the only one who has books percolating in her head that feel like they're whole books and then half the plot falls on her like the proverbial ton of bricks and she's left wondering how on earth she could have thought the previous half-plot was the whole thing? Are all you-people more mentally organized and linear than that? Do you tend to know what it is you don't know?

Smilin' Bill Novak -- that would be my tenth grade English teacher -- used to talk about how he didn't mind the people who knew they didn't know, it was the people who didn't know and didn't know they didn't know who drove him buggy. (Actually we all had our theory on who had driven Smilin' Bill buggy, but I already got one defensive snarky e-mail from her ego-googling and certainly don't need another.) Anyway, I keep thinking I want to find Smilin' Bill again, that it would be really cool to see him, but at the same time I occasionally have nightmares that I go to the launch party for my very first book, and he's there, and he gives it to me to sign, and in red ink and large caps on the title page he's written, "DON'T WASTE MY TIME." Just like he used to on our essays when we attempted to bullshit him; Smilin' Bill would not be bullshat. And I live in fear of Smilin' Bill thinking that I'm one of the ones who doesn't know and doesn't know she doesn't know. From him it still matters.

But the stuff I didn't know I didn't know: dang. Dar Williams and the Minnesota River and the Winter Carnival (all of which are Sir Not Appearing In This Book) made my brain go clicketa-clicketa-clicketa-CHING! And the fortune that the machine spat out was, "You will write lots of words about some stuff you made up, and also you will swear at that tricksy little so-and-so Tam Lin and at that totally transparent ape Carter Hall for not seeing that Tam was being secretive in more than one direction at once."

Well. Can't argue with the machine's fortunes. Winds for the sacrifice? If that's what we gotta do. Anything to be able to look Smilin' Bill in the eye when I go to sleep.

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