Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Me, the archaeologist
It's understandable that when faced with an overabundance of choices, one becomes easily overwhelmed. Such is one of my problems when it comes time to sit down and write. There are so many options, choosing one about which to write for any given session seems a daunting task unless it's one of those rare moments in which I'm utterly possessed by a story. Those moments are the ones I crave like the perfect barbecue potato chip - rarely stumbled upon, and so that much more satisfying when it hits my tongue, or in the case of writing, my keyboard. Those moments are why I write; it's like an archaeologist who digs and dusts clean bits of what turn out to be trash for years because one of these days, they're going to come across something amazing, something no one's even been looking for, something spectacular. The possibility of that ultimate find (or story, or song, or moment) makes all the crap worth it. So that's where I am right now, trying to wade through what many days looks like trash in search of something that resembles a promising path to get me closer to that paragon. The time I should be spending writing something, if only for the sake of writing anything at all, I'm digging and searching for the piece that feels right.
Being the adoring fan of efficiency that I am, waste is death. I will not run an errand if it's the only reason I'll be on that side of town. I will not drive to the American base (where I work out for free) to go to the gym if I've no grocery shopping to do, bills to pay, or mail to check for. There are 40 steps between where we park our cars and our front door and if it takes me ten minutes to get up them, I will hang as many grocery bags from my body as possible to make even that trip more efficient. So sitting at my beautiful writing desk to do nothing but type out some directionless scene actually hurts a little. If I'm going to write, I should be writing something that's worth the time away from the countless other things I could, and often feel I should be doing, like laundry or dishes or reading for the next book club or prepping something healthy for dinner. If I'm going to write, I should, at the very least, be working on something that's building toward something bigger. Like the novel I began my last semester in college. In 2004.
The more seasoned writer will tell me that no time spent writing is wasted time, because we're always developing our craft, always learning from our own keystrokes. A wiser person will tell me to stop making excuses and make it a daily obligation, because anyone who's ever read a book on writing has learned that to be a writer, you must write every day. So despite my innate need to organize all things into the most efficient blocks I can, I'm trying. And you're reading the latest and scariest try. I'm blogging, and as I type I wonder who would want to read my ramblings? But this isn't a new thing, I realize, and there is a culture of those who appreciate the thoughts and words of strangers, and I so appreciate that. This is a space where I can share whatever I want, which takes some of the pressure off the obligation to write, and someone just might read it, which presses right back down. But some pressure is good. You need some stress in your life, my dad has told me more than once, and the kind of stress that makes me give a little more time to what I release into the wild from the confines of my mind, to gallop triumphantly through someone else's imagination or collapse into a sad heap, is the kind I need.
Reading back over this, I'm not sure if I ever really wound back around to a solid point. But either way, that's me, so if that entertains you, stay tuned.
Thank you for spending some of your time with me, because I can only imagine all the things you might do in a day, and you could've kept on walking, but you decided to stick around. I sincerely hope I made it worth your time, and hope you'll stop in again. As for me, I'm going to get back to my digging and wading through the options, venting about or celebrating them here from time to time.