Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm Even Ambivalent About Writing A Title For This Post

Some time ago, as I think I was documenting here, I started writing something as an exercise. The point wasn’t really what I was writing, but simply that I was writing; it was an effort to get myself habituated to writing every day in the hopes that, eventually, the habit could be directed towards doing something a little more purposeful.
Of course, as with most things, I soon got sick of it and stopped, but the other night, in an effort to avoid doing anything useful, I read through the pages that I had written.
While my focus wasn’t really on the story itself but simply the act of writing, I have to say that, looking over what I cranked out, I found myself rather intrigued, and began thinking that maybe I should actually try to put it all together into an actual story.
The one problem, though, is that while it’s clear that I began working with a specific central concept in mind, I started the whole thing almost two years ago, so I have pretty much zero recollection of where – if anywhere – I was going with it.
So that poses a bit of a problem as I consider revisiting it.
I ran into a similar problem back when I moved to VA from AZ. In AZ I’d started writing a short story that started to become a novella and from there was threatening to become my first novel. Then there was all of the disruption that comes from packing up my life and moving it across the country, with an extended period during which I did not have access to my computer, so by the time I settled in, caught my breath, and sat down to get back to work on it, I’d completely forgotten what was supposed to happen next. I remembered how it was supposed to end – or rather, I remembered what the ending scene was going to be; the actual dénouement – and the events leading up to it – was long gone from my consciousness – but trivial items like, oh, what the actual plot of the story was supposed to be, had slipped my mind entirely, and I found that I was never able to either recover my original plans or construct a Plan B.
Of course, I was eventually able to content myself with my faith in my own inadequacy as a writer and simply conclude that it probably wouldn’t have been any good anyway.
Even so, the whole “I once wanted to be a writer” thing keeps coming turning up in my mind like a cliché metaphor for something that continually turns up, and I keep asking myself “Do I still want to be a writer?”
Not really having an answer other than, “Well, I certainly don’t seem to be putting in any effort towards achieving that goal,” I find myself at the mercy of conflicting desires: the desire to achieve what I once hoped to achieve and the desire to not do anything.
My niece Jourdan currently attends the college I used to work for, and while I was home she and I had a conversation about an English class she had taken, and, more specifically, the professor who taught it. The professor is someone I had known when I worked there whom I would periodically stop and talk to whenever I saw him when I walking around on campus. Pretty much every time I saw him he would ask, “So, have you been doing any writing outside of work?”
I would always answer that no, by the time I got home I was usually too burned out creatively to even think about writing.
(While this was, in fact, pretty much the truth, I did not go on to mention that when I got home my first order of business – my very first, even ahead of taking off my tie – was to crack open a beer, which, considering that it was usually the first beer of at least ten, inevitably interfered with my ability to, lucidly, at least, produce any sort of creative work.)
He would nod and say, “I know the feeling. Besides, when I sit down to write something, I always end up thinking, ‘Who gives a shit?’ I don’t have anything to say that anyone wants to read.”
I could, and still can, relate.
I mean, really, who does give a shit? I’m not even sure that I do, so how can I expect anyone else to?
(Note that this doesn’t stop me from writing long, pointless blog entries.)
So, yeah. To summarize, I have in my possession the beginning of what could, conceivably, be an interesting story, but I have no idea what the story is actually supposed to be about, and I don’t know that I really care enough to bother trying to figure that out.
For the curious among you, the central concept of the story is that there are two people who live in close proximity to each other whose lives are somehow inextricably linked, even though, apart from an extremely brief encounter that neither one of them actually remembers, they’ve never actually met and will not meet in the course of the story.
What is the link between them? No idea.
What’s the actual plot beyond that initial concept? How the hell should I know?
Can I actually come up with something to answer those questions? Maybe.
Will I? What do you think is the answer to that question?
In any case, on the other fronts of my life, nothing of any particular interest happened. Drove to work. Worked. Went over to the café next door for work (Where I was asked if I wanted tomatoes on my burger, and not knowing anything about the salmonella-contaminated tomatoes at the time, simply thought it was an odd question, and said, “Yes, everything but onions.”). Ate lunch. Worked some more. Drove home. Watched last night’s Daily Show and Colbert Report. Wathed The Simpsons. Wrote this.
Also, even though I went to bed early, fell asleep right away, and slept through the whole night, I was utterly exhausted for most of the day.
However, on a positive note, my cold seems to have receded once again.
There’s a Finnish proverb that states “Hard work cures all ills.”
Given that my cold seemed to improve after the altogether more difficult than it should have been (thanks to the heat) task of mowing the lawn yesterday, it seems they may have been on to something.
Still, I think I’d rather be ill than engage in hard work, so take that, you lousy hard-working, healthy Finns!

No comments: