25 February 2006

two twenty five oh six

T'is a gray rainy day.

Drizzle slides down in greasy drips, and the everything seems a shade too dark, a touch too cold.

I just spent an hour staring at the cursor as it blinked steadily, moving nary an inch, defiant in its abject refusal to do one more thing than I told it to do. You’d think that after all this time the damned thing would at least once or twice offer to kick in with a word or two of its own, but instead it just blinks and mocks me.

“You call this ’writing’?”

I feel a need—an aching physical need—to put some sort of words on paper (or phosphor, but let’s not quibble, not yet) on a day like this. I have no other pressing obligations anywhere other than here at this keyboard, where I know I owe tens of thousands of words to a variety of causes, clients, and concerns.

Yet for all that, some part of my conscious brain whines that it’s just not in a mood to write, which of course pisses me off, for I absolutely subscribe to Gurney Halleck (from the book and movie DUNE) when it comes to moods:

“Moods are for cattle and love-play, not for fighting!”

And writing is more akin to fighting than most people would like to believe. Both are martial arts where planning and preparation can often out-perform ability and raw strength, where the unexpected can lay waste to your plans, where creation of victory usually demands the destruction of things won and created by previous victories, and where nobody really likes to talk much about their ignominious defeats and spectacular disasters. (Curiously enough, both are activities which most sane people avoid whenever possible.)

If I were a writer who let my writing happen only when my “mood” was right, I’d probably have a grand total of five or six pages to my credit, lifetime.

‘Cuz writing is hard goddamned work. People who disbelieve or disagree with this have (in my mind at least) never really bothered to try writing. And when I say “writing” I don’t mean scribbling a greeting inside a birthday card, or leaving a note next to the coffeepot where your spouse/kids/cleaning woman can find it later. I mean actual writing, where you start with a pile of blank pages or a raw document, and you end up with a story: an obvious lie that people happily accept and believe even though they know it’s a lie.

It’s hard work because building a Universe from scratch ain’t easy, folks. It’s the sort of thing that’s usually left to gods, delusional psychopaths, and writers. [Supply your own punch line there—I’m busy making something vaguely like a point.]

So here I sit, while the real world just kinda sorta stares off into steely drizzly space, forcing myself to put one word after another. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. At some point you look back and realize that you’ve made some progress.

Because as often as not that’s how writing gets done. You don’t sit around and wait for the “mood” to arrive, wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a satin ribbon. That’s kinda like saying the way to start a family is to sit quietly until a stork lands on your windowsill and leaves a baby. It might have happened once, somewhere, but for the rest of us, it takes work. Labor. Dedicated effort to achieve a defined goal.

And right now all I can seem to do is just stare out the window.


1 comment:

Scott the Reader said...

Dude, you're a good writer. We love you.

Now shut up and write.