[This entry is the second for #reverb10, an online initiative to reflect on the year and manifest what’s next. Today’s prompt is to figure out what gets in the way of my writing and what I can do to eliminate it.]
To wonder what I do each day that does not contribute to my writing is to wonder what it is, in fact, that does contribute to my writing.
My problem is primarily that in my fiction writing (which is my favorite kind), my subject matter, or at least my themes, tend to be fairly narrow in scope. I write often about love, but hardly ever the happy, life-affirming kind. It is typically the kind that fucks you up but leaves you confident that next time it will be different.
I never get to the different, better next times. I have not written a happy ending in a long time; I am not one hundred percent sure that I would know how to do so if it the possibility even presented itself. That rarely happens, unfortunately; my characters tend to be doomed from the start.
As far as contributing to that writing goes, well, my job is not helping. I work as an office monkey for a small firm; I don’t even get to observe any clandestine interoffice romances, because my only coworkers are a man in his early 40s and his mother, who is nearing 70.
Any romance in that office would be awkward as fuck.
Additionally, in the much less abstract sense, I do not get many opportunities to actually write while I am working. It does happen sometimes, but I’m much more apt to be distracted by conversations with friends or the internet or a game of Spider Solitaire or even occasionally my work-related duties than I am to spend my free(ish) moments writing. It’s not useful or smart, but I feel like I can’t help myself sometimes.
Then there is my after work life, which is to say my real life. It is hardly conducive either to actually writing or to getting inspired for it. No matter how well or poorly any relationship in which I may be involved is going, one of my past ones is going to provide me better fodder for anything I choose to do for at least a couple of reasons. For one, I like to think (like Rob in High Fidelity) that I’ve just been through enough relationships now that I know better than to let myself get fucked up like that. For another, if I were to write about anything going on in my present life, I would most likely get in trouble in one way or another, and getting in (more) trouble is not my preferred method of functioning.
There’s also the greater problem of me just frequently completely failing to enjoy the process of writing. I’ve had a few good ideas, somewhat limited subject matter aside. Some of them have come to fruition, after a fashion. At least the writing portion of the story was finished. Unfortunately, in the cases of things that I have completed, the writing portion was only the first part of the story.
The form in which I have written the most in my technically adult years is screenplays. I am very visual by nature, but like Richie Tenenbaum, I failed to develop as a painter. Writing, however, is something that I like to humor myself that I am good at. The best combination of these things, I thought, would be to write screenplays. The real problem with writing screenplays, it turns out, is that they need to be turned into films to get the full effect. I’ve written two features and a slew of shorts, each with an eye toward filming myself. Unfortunately, for a whole host of reasons ranging from a source of money to buy a camera disappearing into thin air to an assistant director quitting on me out of nowhere, it has not happened yet. The reasons have been many and varied, and it has taken a toll on me, even if ultimately some perseverance would have pushed me through.
This has trickled down to all of my creative endeavors. There have been long stretches of time in my life where the mere idea of sitting down to create was paralyzingly depressing. Other times, it has just been that this video game I’m playing feels way more compelling.
Regardless of the “reason”, the thing that ultimately gets in the way of my writing the most is that I won’t make myself do it. Sometimes, it is really fun, the words just flow out and all you have to do is go back later and make sure you spelled everything correctly when your hands were dancing over the keys (or you were dragging your pen across the page, or whatever). Other times, it is like pulling teeth. From a charging rhinoceros.
Those times are less pleasant.
The fact is, part of the reason I am doing this exercise, and part of the reason I did NaNoWriMo, and part of the reason I did 30 Days of Music over the summer, is because I do much better when I have a compelling reason to write other than helping me get my own insane neuroses off my chest.
Are all neuroses insane by definition? I’ll have to check that out.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: the thing that most often gets in the way of my writing is my own idiot self. I can and should correct that. Starting…
I work as an office monkey for a small firm; I don’t even get to observe any clandestine interoffice romances, because my only coworkers are a man in his early 40s and his mother, who is nearing 70.
Any romance in that office would be awkward as fuck.
Regardless of anything else that might come from this exercise — and I hope it’s as good for you as it has been for me so far (though I’m behind) — you win for those sentences right there.