Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You gotta start somewhere. Might as well be here.

I started writing this weekend. Well, sort of.

Most of you know that I one of my main goals this year is to spend time writing. Plays or performance pieces, in particular. And some of you may know that I have been a little stumped. I have a million and one flotsam and jetsamy thoughts floating about my brain, and I have the time now to harness them. Or filter them. Or both.

A few months ago, I started a special little journal. It’s a small, palm-sized India-earthy looking thing, covered in fabric and bound by string. Like this:




The front half of the book is consecrated to storylines. The back half of the book is consecrated to characters. The hope is that the ‘twain shall meet…somewhere in the middle of my special little book. I have carried this little guy around with me for the last four months, and when it so happened that I was simultaneously inspired, disciplined, cognizant, and pen-laden, I would write down little observances, little fits of genius, little philosophical revelations, little rhetorical questions, and sundry other littles.  And the best part about the little guy is that on its very first page, on the very first day I got it, I wrote out my intentions and purpose for writing. To remind me in case I lost track. Or in case I got too mean.


So I’ve been keeping track of ideas. But I haven’t been too good at sorting them. Which brings me to why I have not actually really and truly started … “Writing”….(with a capital W). Those of you who know my charming and idiosyncratic obsessive compulsiveness when it comes to things being in their place, will perhaps know that organization (or lack thereof) would be enough of a reason to keep me from getting anywhere. Paralyzing, in fact. Because when you have a brain like mine, you come up with quiet and unnoticed, dainty hiccup-like questions (which you don’t even agree with) like: How do I make it all fit in a nice tidy package? Which idea is more important? How do I tie all my favorite morals and philosophies all together? How do I combine all my ideas into one story? How do I educate people about this or that? How do I  (questions that do not admit the possibility of NOT accomplishing or answering to any of the above in a clear and precise manner). So that’s problem numero uno: where to begin the story.


But there is something else keeping my writing process at bay.


I remember writing really lame poems when I was a teenager. Really lame.  I didn’t know it at the time, of course, so I kept on my merry way with the writing. Clichéd, easy turns of phrase. Corny, dark imagery. Crammed words to fit a meter, and rhymes at any cost. I cringe at what Kurt Cobain’s post-humus stardom brought out of me – a bad sharpie drawing of his face on my bedroom wall, and a stupid, stupid poem … to convey my loss, no doubt.



I fear that I will turn out the same predictable drivel that I was turning out 15 years ago, when I gave up my potential writing career to take up music….or sports…or whatever. I always had an awareness of what I (quite subjectively, of course) considered to be GOOD writing, INSPIRED writing, CREATIVE writing….GENIOUS writing. That meant that I always had an awareness of what I considered to be BAD writing, REDUNDANT-WITHOUT-CLEVERLY-MEANING-TO-BE writing, REGURGITATIVE writing, ANGSTY-DARK-TEENAGER writing, and the like. It makes me think of the Spice Girls. I remember very consciously thinking, when a couple of the spice girls’ super hit songs were played 100 times a day on Q94FM sometime in the mid to late 90’s, that this had to be the WORST kind of writing on the planet. Come on: if you wanna get with me, better make it last? I wanna really really really really zigizay…ah! Really? Ok, it was catchy. But it sucked.


And when I imagine myself writing, I imagine that I will,(no matter how hard I try not to), write Spice Girls songs. Despite my abhorrence of (what I consider to be) clichéd writing, I think that that is what I will inevitably write. And then I will hate it. And then I will have to lament that while all this time I thought I had the potential in me to be a great writer, I am really the worst of all scribing sinners. Because even though my brain is saying “Ew! Ugh! Blech!” while my hands go to town on the keyboard, maybe it doesn’t have enough talent to stop them. Maybe its decided that since it made its own lumpy mattressed, mite-infested, short-sheeted bed…it should have to lie in it. Even though it knows it sucks.


So rather than make that painful discovery, it’s probably safer to say : “Oh, I really want to write!”. And then just talk about how you want to do it, knowing that you’ll never actually have the kind of lifestyle that would allow for something as great as that. (whew. what a relief.)


So I’ve been living in a sort of creative paralysis, fearing that a Garth-type is going to come up to me and say: “If you’re going to spew, spew in this”, offering me a Dixie cup for my verbal vomit. Haha. What a gross image.


You know, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m being dramatic, for the purposes of honing the craft of which I speak. Rather, write. Of which I write. Is there irony in that? I can’t remember. Try hard and you might find a speck of it in there somewhere. Though you might argue that my definition of irony is just like everyone else’s, which is to say, wrong.


Those are my thoughts for today. Well, I don’t want to lie. They were mostly from yesterday…but I never finished them before bed so I had to bring them to a close this morning.


I’ll come back full circle to my opening statement: “I started writing this weekend” next time, now that I’m done with the disclaimers... 


  1. "As the spirit wanes the form appears."
    -Charles Bukowski
    Remember to keep the spirit and not let the form control your art.

  2. gaaaaahhhhh I TOTALLY understand this!!! This is the very thing that keeps me from song writing. I'm afraid my stuff will turn out just like the songs I wrote when I was 12 years old or will sound too 80's! haha That and perfectionist tendencies - if I can't write a #1 hit right away, then why keep trying? Sad. My cousin and I have discussed this a lot - and it basically comes down to the reality that you may have to write a bunch of crap before you get to the brilliant stuff - but mostly, you just have to write. Every day. This is so hard because when I write something crappy I want to quit. I feel like Don Music from Sesame Street who bangs his head on the piano keys and yells dramatically, "I'll NEVER get it right! NEVER!" Anyhoo - totally relate to this. I was just thinking this morning - forget Heather Rose - you are totally going to have your own play by the time this adventure is over! A comedy of errors involving the town cliques....it'll be great! haha