clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Torsion

Writing is that activity most like a torsion.

There is the twisting of the soul where you desperately desire to tell a story for reasons not understood and that sane reflection that "you suck" and "nobody will want to read this" because if they did you'd have eclipsed Steven King long ago.

It is a horrendously self-effacing activity to say "here, I made this"  knowing that even of your friends 90% will go "meh ..."

I've got _Catch 22_  beside the bed waiting to start it on the evening of our first snowfall. Probably not a lot of people digging out Heller for a re-read these days, either. My friend Gene tells me the life of a novel is frequently quite a lot less than the lifespan of a cat.

The tremendous push to go on when one side of you says "you have to get this out" and another side says "it won't matter" is just indescribably brutal. It certainly creates an emotional state not unlike depression. You're excited about something and absorbed by something and thinking all the time in the back of the head that when this draft is done (done !) you'll put it away for future editing because you know this minute "it isn't good enough yet and until I see no flaws I will not send it out of house."

That is a good desire. I want to polish and perfect and make that one chance of success for a work to come to fruition. At the same time, the immediacy of reward is completely self-contained unlike almost everything else in life. [ Never show a work in progress to a spouse, child, sibling, friend, colleague, or stranger. Feedback before the creation process is complete is horrendously unhelpful. I haven't done this but I've heard for others who claim it ruined that story/novel/essay. ]

There is certainly a great deal of the twisting and rending of self in the serious pursuit of something you care about. It is easy to learn to disconnect ego from a position in the workplace. It is much more difficult to not see yourself in this writing when you are first serious. Self and the work are too closely connected.

It is a strange sense of madness.

I dip a shirt in the lake water on a hot day and wring it out before slipping my arms back through the sleeves. A little of that twist and bind from the cloth rubs against my skin. It rubs just as the current writing project rubs.

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