Maybe it’s a novella I’m writing.
Heavy experimentation in the works. Things have been too clean lately, too precise, and predictable.
A lot of time has passed since I’ve written anything. I haven’t even been writing in my journal heavily lately. I feel like it’s a sickness, conversely, I feel like it’s just normal. There’s nothing burning inside me. I suppose I’ve had that feeling before, and I wrote it down (whatever it was), but that’s not the case. Count this as a journal entry. I’ve said this was a kind of journal. I’m still editing my short story collection as I get it back in pieces from my friend. I need new opinions also. The novel is still sitting, whether it’s a bad idea to have it sit or not. That’s what it’s going to do. I’ve ordered a messenger bag to carry it around in. Once I get that, I’ll print it up and begin working on it. Sometimes I like to get out and work on things rather than work from the house. Sometimes the house can feel suffocating and I need to change the scenery to get things the way I want them–‘right’.
About not writing lately–I don’t really feel guilty for not writing. I recently took a road trip to my mother’s house for Christmas and I didn’t take anything with me to keep writing. Maybe I needed a break. Maybe I still need that break. In a way I feel like there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from the writing if there’s no urge to write. There’s a difference between urge and inspiration. I have things to write about but I haven’t written them, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a bad thing, as I’ve said, but when I get back on, I get back on, which will be soon.
Here is the link to the interview I did for the Missouri Review’s Working Writers Series. It was a fun interview, and we talked about a lot. Read on.
I don’t know why it’s hard to write on the keys sometimes. I guess it’s a thing of finality—like, what I’m writing is final, and this must be something. I guess that’s natural to feel that way since people often type things up when they are done. It’s like you don’t want to hit the delete button, or the backspace button. I don’t mind it. I’m not from a generation of using a typewriter. I write on my laptop. I’m not ashamed. This is my typewriter. This is my journal sometimes. I try to write perfectly most times though, and abhorrent ‘backspace’ key sits on my shoulder like a ghost, waiting to be called on.
I haven’t had anything serious to write about since finishing another draft of my novel, but I hope it comes soon. I don’t feel like I can go on to something of longer form until I’m finished COMPLETELY with this novel. When I’m finished with it I’m saying goodbye to it, and that’s all I want to do. It would be hard to keep returning to that world I’ve created—editing, re-reading, etc., while trying to write something completely new. I admit I’ve been starting things, but they’re just studies, or samples, scenes maybe, background, and nothing concrete ready to be continued. I like doing it like that. It’s comfortable for now, yet uncomfortable because I like to know where I’m heading after this thing is done. I still have that collection of short fiction out right now too, and that was hard to have in the back of my mind while I worked on the novel (the one I just spoke about). It’s the bouncing back and forth I don’t like. but this is my first time around with writing something longer, completely, so I’m training myself to know what I am capable of doing, and how I’m capable working, and what makes me comfortable working. I have this burning feeling to get the first thing right.
The ways in which we qualify things are getting worse. I read around just about every day and I gather opinions about the ways in which we qualify things. There was a quote from a writer of some sort (forgive me, I don’t remember the name of the writer) I read on tumblr saying that everyone nowadays is afraid of the big idea, or anything grand. He went on about the ways people speak—saying ‘like’ a million times, ‘I feel’, ‘in my opinion’, and there were so many. He said no one states anything clearly anymore. There are no more real proclamations. I agree. I saw Kanye West on Jimmy Kimmel’s show recently. I hate to reference this, but what he said while on the show was important. He said everyone is so concerned with limiting you and fitting you into a box, and he called himself a ‘creative genius’ (whether we believe him to be one is irrelevant). Then he said if he were to say he were not a creative genius, he would be lying to himself and to people when he talked to them. The crowd laughed. I laughed when I watched the video. The rest of the interview isn’t important for what I’m talking about, but what I’m getting at is the uncertainty in all of us. It spreads. It’s popular. I realize we can’t all be the same. We can’t all have the same type of confidence, or any confidence at all.
I talked to a friend out on the west coast the other day. She’s an aspiring actress, and she models. After seeing 12 Years A Slave I text messaged her telling her to go see the film. She saw it maybe a week later and told me she thought it was incredible and the woman that played Patsy will get an Oscar. I said I hope she gets something (if anything). The next thing she said was ‘this is her breakthrough role. She went to Yale.’ I didn’t say anything after that. I knew it meant nothing, but still after my friend said that I thought—what does any of her acting have to do with her going to Yale? Or, how does her potential to win awards (whichever ones) depend on where the hell she went to school? My friend’s logic poses that the academy puts nominees into a perspective based on not only their performances, but also their ‘story’, when they’re considering who should win. Everyone’s talked about people and celebrities about their careers, or their lives, and adding where he or she went to school, and it’s sad. I don’t do it anymore. We throw these things into conversation casually, and unknowingly, as if to say that we are nothing without Yale, or Columbia, or Harvard, or some other qualifier. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of where someone went to school. But, look at how many people are successful in careers without formal education, or if they had formal education, look at their success without accolades. People are using accolades alone to determine whether something is great, or worthy of attention—their attention. We do it with athletes. What is a quarterback without a superbowl if he is to be considered for the hall of fame?
There was a WordPress post I read sometime earlier this year. It was an excerpt from another writer about there being no other greater mark of mediocrity than an author winning the Nobel Prize for literature. I don’t think that every laureate is mediocre. But I don’t think I should choose what books I read based on the list of past laureates. I don’t think it should be among the criteria schools use to develop curricula for their literature courses. I don’t think it means a writer is ‘bad’ or ‘not as good’ because they did not win the Nobel Prize, or Pulitzer Prize, or Book of The Year, or any other award. You may compare the concept to recording artists winning awards too—artist wins award for making something that appeals to an ideal or the greatest number of people. In the words of Alfred Nobel: “in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”.
Awards are a guide if you want to use them that way, but I don’t use them as incontrovertible criteria—like I’m diseased with linear thinking. We do artists a disservice by mentioning the awards the ways we mention them. We use them as attachments that for the artist, without them the artist is nothing and has done nothing worthy.
At least I think it’ll be soon. I’ve come a long way. I’m not rushing.