For you, the dress code is casual.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Writing, You Fickle Bitch

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with writing of late. I think this is an ongoing thing, I doubt it's going anyplace fast. I love it, I hate it, then I hate it some more, but it compels me, and being a bear of little spine, I allow myself to be so compelled.

I have a book I read from time to time to remind me of what it is I get from writing. It's an anthology called Why I Write and it has a hell of a mix of writers in it, everyone from Norman Mailer and Denis Johnson (who my fiction has been compared to, whoo-hoo) through to Pat Conroy and William Vollmann. The passages are widely varying depending on the author, but the gist of them comes down to why, indeed, they write.

I ask myself that a lot. Why bother? I don't get anything out of this. I make no money because I don't have a freelancer in me, and because I don't feel I can work for a periodical. So, I plug away, hoping maybe I'll make some money through it one day, but mostly doing it because I just don't know what I'd do if I didn't.

So, it was with great "a-ha!" that I was read a passage of Vollman's in my book earlier on the bus when I came upon this single brilliant line, Now I feel instead that the tale is a block of darkness that I chip away at deliberately until I begin to glimpse tiny stars within.

God. Sometimes I hate writing. It's so pointless. Does anything really come of it? Why bother? Why put myself through this? When did it change? When did the mission get confused?

Sigh. Bah. Damn you, writing. I feel like listening to that stupid song by the old hair band, Poison, "Something to Believe In." I find writing harder and harder to do as I get more tired and jaded at the end of a long year. I want to believe in it, though. That's the trouble. I KNOW I believe in writing as being a noble, powerful, important work. I know that we writers are the observers of the world. We document the passing of time and the changing of civilization. We are the keepers of your pulse. It's what WE do.

It's strange. I feel like there's a story or an article or just a thing inside that wants to come out of me, but I'm not sure what it is, what it's about, or how to help it emerge. So, I keep sitting down to write, hoping This Is That Time. Yet, no. No cigar, Pedro. Not tonight. Not ever? Nah. Sometime. Just... not now.

Whatever. Tomorrow I will do what I had planned when the Rolling Stones rudely availed themselves to me, smiting the plans that were (I jest, surely) -- I will tote my laptop to work, and after work, find myself a good place to settle in and write and observe.

I think the time is nigh for me to tap into my old fiction roots and see if I write a story or something, just to get myself out of this rut. Work on some imagery or something. Unlikely it will ever see the light of day for you folks -- as you've probably noticed, you've seen sweet fuck all of my short fiction and it's staying that way.

Like most writers, deep down inside sits a wishful novelist. Apparently the average age of the first-time novelist is 34. I'm 33. There's time, by god! There is! Snicker. No. No. Novels are way the fuck down on my list. Still, it'd be cool.

And I'm in a writing rut. I need to shake the foundations. Write something different. Remind myself I have the smarts to capture cadence and twirl some words.

Back in the day, I had this notion of writing a novel within a novel within a novel. Sorta like standing in between those mirrors that reflect ad infinitum, but the literary version. I couldn't solve it, though. It's still a good idea, and I'm sure that if I tear apart some of the old boxes with my shit in them, all the stories are there.

But I'm all right with flash fiction. I doubt I could hold it up over a few hundred pages. I don't know if I could live with myself if I pulled a stunt like Anthony Bourdain does in The Bobby Gold Stories, which take place chronologically with all the same characters, but they're "stories" and not a novel. I dunno if I admire him for knowing his limits and sticking to stories, or if I think it's a copout at making a novel work in the hardest spots there are, the in-between bits. I suspect I think it's a copout, even though I liked it. So, I could never just sell short stories. I've never taken acclaimed short-story writers seriously. How bad am I? Such a snob.

Maybe I find them easy enough to conjure when the mood's right that I think it's a wax job when they make their 8-12% on their cover price.

I dunno. Whatever the fuck. Writing's a chore these days, but I'm working on it. Tomorrow I spend the night solo and try to tap into some stuff. Besides, I have a whole new podcast to write since I finally have a subject to use: returning to the dating game and all the bullshit that comes with. My podcast will entirely be about my life. There's a subject I can manhandle with authority.

(But in the end, I keep remembering the quote in the sidebar here -- writing for a living is a privilege, not a god-given right, as the opportunities are few though sought after by many. Years of rejection serve as a crude winnowing, after which those left standing are those who simply must write, said by Richard Ford. Well, I know I simply must write, and I'll do it to the day I die, pay or no. I know what my spots are, and I don't see them changing.)