A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Written words

It's tough. I haven't really written anything new since I've gotten to Texas, which means almost a year now. And it's certainly not for lack of time: I often find myself at work surfing the same internet sites that I have browsed 1,000 times before, just hoping for a smidgen of an update. And before I began working I had plenty of free time, even though much was spent worrying about the mounting bills that my aproductivity was causing.

I mentioned this to a close friend and they commented that it was all part of an inherent "fear of success" (and the accompanying "fear of failure") that almost all people, deep down inside, suffer from. I guess that is certainly true to an extent: I have never written a true piece of fiction and seeing the deluge of shit that is constantly put out there, I worry that whatever I write might be just another log on the fire. I suppose that writing fiction is also ridden with failure possibilities; you never know what your audience wants to digest, or how they want to digest it.

But perhaps another possibility for my lack of output is a dearth of inspiration. Most of my day is spent either in my office, and though several fun figures now adorn my desk (The Cookie Cop; a Longhorn steer), maybe the OfficeJet G85xi or the History of Anesthesia tome that stare me in the face just aren't stimulating the creative juices. I also don't find doctors to be incredibly inspiring people. I mean, their money may make me envious, but their pomp and curtness do not. I guess I am also thinking that, as beautiful of a place that this island is, maybe its arts scene is just not strong enough. I mean, given: I hate going to open poetry reading nights as much as the next guy, but if (as I tend to believe) all of our motivation comes from our interactions with others, then I'm in trouble.

It's hard to say. Part of me says I'm still adjusting to a new place and a new life, so to speak. Another says I'm just too damn lazy and it wouldn't matter where I was. I just sometimes wonder: if there were breathtaking mountains or a chaotic urban pastiche surrounding me, would it make a difference?

6 Comments:

Blogger steve said...

Personally I'm going to take the opposite tack: writing is work, and it's really hard. You have to sit down with no distractions like it's a job. My understanding is that most writers don't just sit around and wait for inspiration, they sit down and write without inspiration. There are exceptions, some geniuses where everything just comes; but those are the type of people who end up killing themselves anyway and you don't want to be that type of person. Art is work, basically, and I think most of the people who tell you it isn't aren't artists.

9:24 AM

 
Blogger Guy Tarkington said...

I agree with Steve- most of the time, you just have to sit down, every-friggin-day, and write something. In that daily writing, you unlock the good stuff, not the top-of-your-head cliched and limp words that a first draft usually produces. As I was reading your post, Jefe, I thought about Hemingway, who said, "The first draft of anything is shit." And then he shot himself.

When I get serious about writing but I'm stuck, I just free-associate, just write without thinking until something comes out. You'll be surprised by what does emerge.

10:40 AM

 
Blogger Jefe said...

Good points. I'm gonna hunker down and do this. Hey Guy: did you submit for McSweeney's?

1:32 PM

 
Blogger neill said...

For what it's worth, I pretty much do nothing all day and the only inspiration I've had this summer is to play through Final Fantasy 3 again.

2:58 PM

 
Blogger Guy Tarkington said...

I did not. I started, but I became so intimidated by the whole thing, I produced very little.

I am looking forward to seeing the winning entries, so I can silently judge them.

3:03 PM

 
Blogger BZ said...

Yes, I finally agree with the people at the Lemur. Writing is hard work, and it is a skill that comes with time. I look back at some of the crap I wrote when I was getting my degree in Creative Writing, and I wonder what the hell I was doing. But with hard work, we learn the skills to become more effective writers. As for inspiration, I agree with everyone else; if we were to wait to write only when we are inspired we would never do it. You have to develop a pattern and stick to it. Write everyday for at least an hour, that kind of thing. Don’t get me wrong, I can never stick to one of these regiments, but I find I do my best writing when I am on one.

I am finding that these blogs are taking a lot of my energy and time. I sit and blog for two hours when I could be working on the two short stories I have been drafting for a year. Finally, I think it is important to surround yourself with other writers. Exchange stories, workshop your work, and read other people’s work.

Have you read Dave Egger slates book of short stories. That might be inspirational, also check out Norman Mailers book A Spooky Art.

Good luck

9:21 PM

 

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