The Thing About Writing

In Humor, literature on December 11, 2007 at 11:51 am
A resolute G. A. De Forest (Garbonza) intent on writing to the end

A resolute G. A. De Forest (Garbonza) intent on writing to the end

… Is that you’ve just got to keep going. Only beginners or fakes ever plead “writer’s block” to explain lack of motivation, absence of ideas or sheer amateurism. With modern word processors and computers, no longer is the old cliched image of the tortured soul tapping away at the keys on his typewriter, stopping frustrated after a few words, tearing the page away, screwing it up and throwing it in the trash can next to his special “writer’s desk” even comical. It just doesn’t apply, and serious writers would always have found that chronically constipated tragi-comic figure impossible to relate to anyway.

There’s no choice, if you’re truly compulsive about it like a real writer must be. In the supposed lag period after one book has been published and beginning another book there must be no lagging at all but simple continuity. A ‘vacation’ away from writing for me is more like torture. I’ve tried it before and it feels like my life has been put on hold. Always, by the second day, I am taking notes, writing passages, sample dialogue… The day after I completed my book, making the final touches to a 450-page monster that had been ten years in the researching, developing, writing, rewriting, editing and formatting, I was setting about polishing up projects I had put on the backburner for years, in various states of development. The project that was nearest completion I decided should take a back seat for now.

My thing is I like to, like many people, order the world around me to understand it better. And I do this by drawing up lists, seeing patterns in those lists and pointing out inconsistencies. This has long been just a hobby of mine: drawing up popularity lists of old movie stars; biggest-earning movies under each year of release; biggest-earning stars from whatever era; best songs, or songs I can remember from my childhood under various years. I can distinctly remember recordings that came out and were popular before my third birthday. When I mention these, other people assume I am a lot older than I am — I suppose because they most often remember songs from their high school era. Or maybe I do look older because I’m worn out from the frustrations and worries of being a writer, trying to do justice to the calling, and being distracted by normal everyday life intruding.

Years ago I figured out how to make my hobby into a profession of sorts — at least a vocation — and started writing pieces about pop culture history. Now it’s expanded into other interests, like philosophy and morality. Currently, I am planning and outlining a ‘top 10’ list of things that are wrong with the world, on which to base a book. It’s not exactly an original idea, but I’ll do it for my own piece of mind, just to make my own order from the world. There is always the hope, I think, for a serious writer, that if it is sufficiently well written and readable — and engages a sizable public — he might change the world in some way. I’m a pretty contented sort of guy, actually a little complacent now that my first major book has been published, but under the momentum of my compulsion there is no doubt I will generate enough material to fill out a book of a hundred pages or so. Look for it by the middle of 2008.


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