>> Monday, November 19, 2012
So I did about three weeks of reruns, and now I think we'll get away from that and back to the grind. Whether that's a permanent restoration of the Giant Midgets schedule or not, I just don't know.
I'm going through something of a rough patch, writing-wise. I'll write something I'm damned pleased with, collapse into a mire of displeasure with it, and abandon the thing--or, worse yet, restart it. There's a lack of confidence, not in my potential but in my actual accomplishment, a gulf that yawns between what I think I might be capable of and what I actually am able to get done. And this sucks, as you may well know if you've ever been there. I'm not looking for anyone to butter me up, by the way, though some of you have said very nice things to me when I've moaned and groaned on Facebook or elsewhere about my personal creative crisis; I'm just explaining where I am or think I am, and how all my charts out of this Sargasso have managed to get me little more than a few days' seeming progress followed by the discovery of several tons of seaweed jammed in the rudder during a dead calm beneath the white, white sun.
I should also, before anyone feels too sorry for me, point out what I just did there: I took my feelings of creative inadequacy and expressed them, not for pity or sympathy (though solidarity, any of you fellow creative types, is always damn nice: fist bump, my sisters and brothers), but because that act of writing was something, or, more precisely, was itself. I.e. that act of writing about writing was writing, which may be very boring to some of you (sorry!), but from my POV with my fingers on the keys was me trying to come up with a metaphor for feeling static and becalmed in my creative works and spinning it out into a classic nautical reference and what maybe could be a nice image, if I'm allowed to say that, or at least an image that isn't bad and could be polished if it isn't too cliché (and, okay, it's a little cliché, but I still like the bit about the rudder).
That was one of the things this blog was supposed to do, originally, and sometimes still does. Get me writing. Keep me writing. Obligate me to write.
Except that obligation might be self-destructive sometimes, hence three weeks of reruns while I did some mental sorting and started--and abandoned--NaNoWriMo. (Which wasn't a total failure, either, though I won't be finishing the crap I started, at least not in the form it's in right now.)
This was, blink, blink, blink with the audible tinking sound characters blinking their eyes in surprise make in old Warners' cartoons. You know, the sound Wile E. Coyote's eyelids make when he abruptly notices he's out of cliff and there's nothing but many vast impossible miles between his toenails and a picturesque canyon floor.
Go to the link. Read the comic. It's not something I can just reproduce here or anything. Go on, new tab, I'll still be here when you get back.
Well you came and you gave without taking
And I sent you away, oh Mandy
And you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
And I need you today, oh Mandy....
Oh, hi! Are we back? Okay, so... what? Hhhh--alright, fine.
da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da-dum
dum-dum-da-da, oh Mandy
di-di-da, di-di-da, di-di-dum
And I need you today, oh--
Now are we settled? Comfy? Empty bladder or full cup or whatever that was all about? Finally? Thanks. So, okay--
Sometimes Matt Inman is kind of full of it (his current Tesla fetish is less than endearing, honestly--am I allowed to say that?), but here, in the comic at the link, I think he's very wise. The whole damn comic. And one of the provocative things in there, for me, is his explanation for why The Oatmeal updates so sporadically:
I'm a firm believer that if you don't have anything to say, you shouldn't be talking. And if you don't have anything to write about, don't write. [emphasis in original]
Or, y'know, "If I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed."
Which is simultaneously excellent advice and absolutely terrible. Because what we hear a lot of, those of us trying to write, is that you need to write through those periods when you have nothing to write about. That, to some degree, writing is like playing an instrument or doing anything else where practice equals proficiency. That you could at least be doing one of the ten thousand thousand writing exercises--twenty first lines, five first paragraphs; a flash piece based on five random words; write about this random name in this random place with this random obstacle; etc., et al. (there's all kinds of software to help you come up with all these little myriad etudes, finger-flexes and breath-control practices). Our heroes get up every morning, they tell us, and write so many words or hours before lunch; they take a break to have a meal and maybe walk the dog or go have a look at whatever inspirational sight-to-see they happen to have around at one end of their rustic ranch or up the road from their front gates (just don't get hit by a truck); then they go back to the typewriter and pound out a few thousand words before dinner and an early bedtime. Or that's how they are late in their careers; early on, it's maybe go to a day job--maybe in a record store, or making sounds about William Faulkner towards the general locale of a bunch of really bored and apathetic teenagers, say--then they come home and, again, here's several thousand words before bedtime and a novel a year or something.
I don't know how they do it. I mean, I know how they do it, or say they do it. I just don't know how I'm supposed to do it.
But so. Here's another void. Not writing because you have nothing to say, and writing despite having nothing to say because that's supposedly how you refine your craft or something.
The really successful writers talk about what hard work it is and yet still manage to make it sound easy in spite of themselves. Gods know, they still aren't half as bad as all the lower-tier writing advisers who publish helpful writing tips between all their genre novels in which plucky, bosomy heroines fight and fuck werewolves and mummies and pirate vampires (or vampire pirates; whatever). Those folks cheerfully tell you writing is easy, anyone can do it, and then pop up a list of seventy-five things you can do if you want to be a writer, such as, for instance, write about things that interest you. (Which is the kind of thing that never would have occurred to me.)
I flog myself with the essays of truly successful writers and religiously subscribe to the "helpful" mass-spammings from the hacks, and in between I occasionally visit the blogs of various writers in-between. Sometimes I tell myself, "I could do that," meaning what these various writers produce, not the method they use to do so, and then, quite frequently, I don't, because--I don't want to make excuses or anything--I have a career that "pays my way and corrodes my soul".
("I'm a sickening wreck.")
Again, not looking for pity, or (worse yet) advice. Just trying to explain how my eyes were going, doik, doik, doik at the very idea that it might be alright to not write something when I have nothing to write.
"Wait--I can do that? That's allowed? Really? Noooo--yes?"
This is all such a long way to go to suggest that maybe I ought to update the blog less and stress less about not writing more outside the blog, and really focus on writing when there's a story to be told and not because I have some kind of silly idea about how one goes about writing. Part of this sounds like a New Year's Resolution, not to be kept.