For you, the dress code is casual.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Torrent on Writing

I tend to keep my tv-watching to an hour or two a night. I'll see things that look interesting and I'll tape 'em, then save 'em for that rainy day that needs a little light filler.

Today, just such a day. On the menu is the interview with Stephen King by George Strombowhatalotpolous. Stephen King's amazing. I've always had a lot of respect for him. Oddly, I'm not into that genre of reading fare, but even still I have read a lot of his short stories and really dig the range and scope of his twisted imagination. His work ethic, though! My god.

I gotta say, if I go for fiction writing at all, it'll be only to give myself the chance to really take a gander at my dark side, a la King. I think it'd be a hell of a fun trip, man. I know I'm warped enough, I'm just a little apprehensive about finding out just how much so.

I love writing death scenes. Death by book shelf. Ended by an anchor. A rendezvous with a bloody stump. Jack of all sleighs. I just don't go there enough. Fiction freaks the shit out of me. I've been avoiding it for a long time. It's the only REAL writing challenge there is, except when you have some wordsmith like Truman Capote singlehandedly redesign non-fiction, but how often does that happen? (Today's equivalents: Krakauer and Junger. Or is that too obvious?)

But the only time I really get that "ooh, maybe I'm a writer after all!" thrill is when I write something good in fiction or in abstract form. Flash fiction's my favourite -- 500 words or less, a beginning, middle, and end. I love abstract and minimalist stuff, but it doesn't do much for one's bank account, does it? Just goes to show you how absurd my fear of commitment really is... anything over 1,500 words feels like a ball and chain. Still, I'd love to write that next great novel, y'know? There's nothing like that feeling when someone tells you just how much your fiction took them to a whole new place.

The irony in all of this is the timing. Just this morning I was puttering about and cleaning here or there, thinking as I shuffled around to my overplayed favourites. What was I thinking? How I never take literary risks anymore. I feel like a fraud. It's a fucking joke. What's the point of constantly being honest if you're always deliberately falling a little short of the meat of things?

I'm thinking about formatting my iBook. Wiping it all. Burning everything to CDs, sticking 'em in a binder called "iBook the First", and unleashing a bold new attempt at filling it all up again. Taking chances with fiction and such.

After all, when I started this whole blogging thing, it was a huge challenge. How does one tackle writer's block? By force, I decided. I was right. I committed to a daily blog when I was on crutches, confined to my 3rd floor walkup apartment for a number of weeks. It filled my time and got my mind off my problems. Then it became a creative exercise.

I don't give a fuck whether it sounds arrogant or not, but in the early days of this blog, there was some great and original content. I was in a weird place. Writing was a way of reining everything in for a while there. Somewhere along the way, life got hard, writing got distant, and I started taking the complacent route of just writing the same shit every day. I think this, I did that, I hate those, I want these...

I know I'm much more creative than I have allowed myself to be for the last year-plus. I just don't know where it's gone.

Sometimes I wonder if it might just be the meds I use to fight that depression with. They're mild, but I wonder if they're a suppressant creatively. You hear a lot about artists who refuse to battle depression with meds just because of the rumoured abilities they have to negate creativity. Thinking about that possibility, though, doesn't do much for me, so I try not to give it a lot of thought. There are nigglings...

But there you have it: Depression. It's a pretty evil thing. Even now I'm somewhat stunned at how hard the daily battle is. I still do face a lot of it -- just not as harshly as I once did. It's mild now, but it's still there. Depression's one of two things, a blackness that envelopes your days, or when it fades away and becomes more distant, then it's like a shadowy figure hanging around the peripheral. You never really make it out all that clear, but you just know its presence. Depression's the same. Omnipresent yet omniforgettable.

The past couple of years have moved so rapidly yet felt like a snail's pace. I didn't know what I wanted, and once I knew, I had no idea how to get it. It was a couple years of fucking around and trying to figure out where all the unhappiness came from, and just what in the hell I'd be able to do to make it go away. Now I'm at that phase where I'm finding my footing in a new time and place in which I'm finally making it go away.

I've heard tell that there are a few ways you can go after a near-death experience. Among them, having that grateful realization of I'm alive! I'm really alive! Fuck, someone LIKES me. to suddenly realizing how much of your life you've wasted through mistakes and smallness. If you take a wrong detour, it can be a pretty dark foray. A traipsing through all your worst qualities. What fun.

I had that incredible sense of gratefulness because right after that accident is when ALL my writers' block vanished. It became the greatest thing in my life. And the irony is, when you give everything to something like that, something that honestly really can't give back, sooner or later you start to realize that there has to be something more.

Someone showed me a year or so ago just how bad things can get when you shut yourself off from others, and I've been fighting to kind of reevaluate my positions in life -- letting people in more, et al. But writing's still important to me, and the quality that once was there no longer seems to be there for me any more.

I never have that thrill I used to get from it. I can't see why I can't have this better, richer life and still be a writer that has that fulfillment that makes all the examination and questioning worthwhile. I hate the difficulty of that balance, the chasing of each thing that makes it all worthwhile, only to find out that having one seems to mean not having the other. Fuck it. I want to have my cake and eat it too. It's called rationing.

So, curse Stephen King for sending me down this thought-riddled day. Soon a shower will give me some levity, and I'll be on my way for my new "so you're obviously a writer" glasses.

I ain't no wordsmith, I just play one on the internet.