Monday, February 23, 2009

On Writing

I need to keep a notebook on my bed and sleep with a pen in my mouth because it always seems that I compose brilliant pieces of work when I am trying to fall asleep at night. I’ll also have to devise some sort of water proof transcription system for my shower, which is my second most brilliant composing place. My brain only wants to write my future best selling novel when it has no place, not even a receipt and some charcoal, where I can write it down. And being the temperamental artist my brain fancies itself to be, it never, never remembers what it came up with and it never, never comes up with anything when I am at a bloody place where it will be preserved for posterity. No, my brain prefers to work informally and alone and it is so stuck up it won’t replay any of its ideas twice.

This is very frustrating.

Particularly last night, when, lying very near the precipice for sleep my brain came up with some brilliant bit of work; funny, charming, in exactly my voice, yet it let the sleepy bit of my brain say “No, we’ll remember this later, you sleep now”. I wish the bit of my brain that realized what a dead end hell my job is and how much I want to actually do something with my life, even if it is just write down things I like for solely my own amusement, would step in even once in a great while and smother the sleep bit long enough for me to get some of this down. But noooo, here I am, yet again, kicking myself for letting something wonderful slip through my fingers like so much mist.


All I remember this morning is that it was really good. I don’t know the subject matter or the direction. I don’t have the faintest inkling of what on earth it was about. This isn’t the same thing as being drunk either; when you think you’ve come up with something fucking brilliant and upon review realize that you are an idiot. No, this really was brilliant and now it is gone forever. I’m quite distraught.

Many successful writers state that you simply must treat writing like it is a full time job, even if you’ve already got a full time job. You must plant yourself in front of paper, a typewriter or a computer, for X number of hours a day and simply write. No excuses. Act as though your very livelihood depends upon it. This sounds quite practical and is something I should probably do but it is unlikely that my most inspired stuff would ever be created in this environment.

My mind only generates truly good stuff when it is distracted or busy or desperate, like when I’m in a particularly boring class or at work, for some distraction. Two of the things I love best that I’ve ever written were both composed in math classes, one written on the back of a test I’d failed and the other written in response to a test I’d failed. My most inspired ideas happen when I’m driving or in meetings or scrubbing my bathtub. I’ve gotten a bit better at carrying notebooks and pens with me so that I can jot them down but sometimes I can’t write fast enough so I lost the prose I wish to present them in or later I go back and read the scribbles and wonder what I was even getting at.

Perhaps, for me, the best solution is two fold: sleep on a notebook with a pen in my mouth and then take those inspired ideas and work on them like a full time job. I may not find inspiration when I’ve scheduled the time specifically to write but maybe I’ll be able to interpret the inspiration scrawled in sleepy script across a notebook page and get it typed up. If nothing else I’ll have a reason to justify all the ink stains I imagine my sheets are going to accrue.

1 comment:

The CEO said...

Have you ever seen those little dictaphones you can speak into. Pretty cheap, although it may not work in the shower for you. And you don't have to worry about not being able to write fast enough. Radio Shack. I can't gurantee what you might say when you're almost sleep either. Should be fine everywhere else.