Staring at the picks

>> Sunday, April 20, 2008

Here's what I should be doing. What I should be doing is starting a third draft of the damn thing I've been struggling to write for months now. Here's what I am doing: sitting in the Smelly Cat, over by the window, drinking a coffee that's gotten cold, looking at news, listening to Indie Pop Rocks (some Built To Spill coming over the intertubes and wireless right now), and trying to think of a blog entry.

There was going to be an entry about how Southland Tales destroyed Donnie Darko for me, but I think that's stalled and won't be picked up again. (It turns out Richard Kelly is a horrible director whose ineptitude passed as genius in Darko, which is an interesting phenomena.) And I thought about writing about crazy-lady J.K. Rowling's bizarre and obsessive lawsuit against the wannabe publisher of a Harry Potter lexicon. (Oh shit, I meant to say the "wannabe publisher of a lexicon about a series of books about a character whose name rhymes with 'dairy trotter'.") But I don't know that I want to beat up on poor Jo today--it strikes me as more depressing than funny, y'know? And then I still need to do something about Night Of The Living Dead's 40th anniversary this year. (One of the most important horror films of all time, and justly considered a national treasure.)

(And who would have thought a song about a serial killer would be pretty, but IPR just played "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." by Sufijan Stevens, and now I think I need to get Illinois. What the fuck?)

But no, no, I'm writing yet another Sunday entry about writer's block.

At some point I should probably make myself do some kind of self-imposed NaNoWriMo kind of thing, just force myself to marathon for a month. I think the reason I don't isn't so much a lack of willpower as it is a form of terror. The thing I really want to write at the moment is going badly, very badly, and I don't want to quit it but I can't get in there to dig it out.

("Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (part 1)" is a fucking awesome song, by the way.)

Stephen King, a man who (for all his faults as a writer), undeniably knows something about writing as an act, analogizes writing to paleontological excavations--you're uncovering the story as you write it. I think it's a fair enough analogy, I understand it and I might even agree with it. Some of the most successful writing I've done process-wise has been writing where the characters just went and did things, I had no idea what they were up to until they were doing it and suddenly there was this whole story there. That was a good experience.

But with the current... I hate to keep calling it the project, like it's going to take over the world's nuclear weapons or create a special cadre of biologically-modified super-soldiers, but I like it almost too much to want to discuss it in specific terms... with the current thing, I think I know what all those bones under the hard red rock add up to. I think I have an idea where, under the ground, the tail and the legs and the great big head full of teeth are located. But I'm having the damnedest time trying to figure out where to begin brushing away the rough sand and edging in my pick. Like the cheesy old joke about the man in a bar with a steering wheel in his crotch, it's driving me fucking nuts.

Even this, this that I'm doing right now. This isn't really a blog entry about nothing, you know. It appears, superficially, to be about writer's block or having nothing to say or whatever, but the truth is that it's an avoidance exercise. I'm writing this in the air conditioning of the trailer mounted next to the mesa, just so I don't have to go under that fucking sun again with the picks and the brushes and the chisels and hammers to stare at the monster fucking rock.

I'm screwing myself with this blog entry, so I'm going to stop. I'm making this damn thing out to be a T-Rex and at best it's a goddamn mouse under there. Enough venting, whining and dodging and weaving. Hope your creative work is going better than mine right now.

UPDATE: Hey, I got two pages done! Hooray! I know, doesn't sound like much, but, I don't know... baby steps or something. Anyway, maybe this start is the right one. We'll see. Until I start hating it again or something....


kimby Monday, April 21, 2008 at 9:16:00 AM EDT  

I have found that trying to do Nano when it isn't November has never worked for me. I don't know if it is the idea that in Nov. EVERYONE is driving themselves crazy and there is safety in numbers...but any attempt to try it outside of that time frame has failed for me.

Nathan Monday, April 21, 2008 at 9:34:00 AM EDT  

I join you in your blockdedness. (Yeah, it's a fucking not dare to challenge me.)

Jeri Monday, April 21, 2008 at 1:39:00 PM EDT  

I join you too. Maybe we should have a blocked-block party. ;)

I wish I weren't so afraid of my Nanowrimo book. Yes, there are huge plot issues that require major surgery, but there's a lot of good writing there as well!

I think a form of discipline akin to Nanowrimo makes sense - like 2 hours set aside on Sat & Sun to produce words on paper, regardless of whether I'm inspired or eloquent.

Eric Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 11:23:00 AM EDT  

I can relate to the NaNoWriMo fear--I haven't looked at my '08 NaNoWriMo in months, even though I think it has some promise and could be edited into something kind of okay.

I hope we all get over the hurdles! I did end up getting a few pages done on Sunday, and I'm cautiously optimistic about them....

MWT Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 1:51:00 PM EDT  

Heh. My problem at the moment seems to be too many distractions on other fronts. I finally decided that I was just going to NOT write anything at all until after most of it is over - June. Up until then I'll do everything else, clear up the decks, so when I finally start I can just write without thinking about anything else.

Every summer, usually June and July, SFFMuse tries to do a two-month mini-marathon of 1000 words per day every day, for a total of 60k (and one day grace). The standards are lax for what gets to count - basically any type of fiction usually does, whether they're related to each other or not. Usually I don't do so well (I have the same problem as kimby), but I try anyway. Anyone else want in? :)

wellsian,  Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 4:09:00 PM EDT  

Sufjan is a douche. If you obtain one of his albums (legally - but of course you would only do so legally) I will think less of you as a human being.

Eric Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 6:13:00 PM EDT  

Out of curiosity, what is it that makes Sufjan a douche? And is this one of those "Yeah, he's kinda a douche but I'll overlook it" things like Frank Sinatra or Roger Waters?

I almost bought one of his albums today, actually, but decided to get some Smog, Red House Painters, Patti Griffin and Sigur Rós instead. So please, explain before I end up increasing the douchiness of my record collection by one....

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