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Meta As Fuck

March 24, 2011

So the purpose of this blog was to train me in writing and writing in English. After a slow start, I’ve been able to put out a post once a week or so. My initial idea of writing about pop cultural artifacts I’ve consumed now stands in the shadow of ill-founded quasi-philosophical ramblings. But that’s fine I guess.

I was suggested by my job coach (don’t even ask) to make something of my supposed ability to make difficult things easy. My non-existent self-esteem disallows me to claim any skill in that area, but I do think that non-fiction books are often much less clear than they could and should be. The main reason for so many people hating mathematics is not that it is hard, but that the books and teachers go about it completely assbackwards.

This goes for many things. Almost every time I read a textbook on some subject I’m annoyed at how needlessly thick the book is and how needlessly complicated the language. It is my firm belief that no subject is hard, if explained in simple terms. And I think everything can be explained in simple terms.

And the idea appeals to me. To write for a living without the burden of narrative adequacy would be almost to have the best of both worlds. The non-work of sitting indoors by myself just typing away and getting paid for it, with the absence of worrying about dialogue, dramaturgic structure and, you know, coming up with a story.

But I would like to write fiction. The problem here is that I have such an arid imagination. I’ve always been like that. As a child playing with lego I never built anything new but always slight variations of things I’d seen someone else build. Writing stories in school was horrible; if we had an hour to finish I’d sit for forty minutes in frantic sweaty panic, and then rush and push out some turd of a story.

I’m being overly dramatic of course. I never got a bad grade for any short story, but some of them were cobbled together from fragments I had carried for months before, having scant connection to the work at hand. My apparent knack for hiding old ideas (some stolen) behind new words served me well.

But that’s the thing. Writing even a short short story exhausts so many idealets that I can’t come up with anything coherent for a long time after. I had hoped that writing often would break some mental barrier; that writing, even without ideas, would make ideas faster in the making.

Another problem – possible the biggest – is that ideas I have turn to ashes when exposed too long to my negative attention. Sometimes when doing something meditative like showering or walking or riding the bus – all conducive to letting the mind wander and come back with found objects – sometimes when doing that, I get a flash or sometimes flood of inspiration. Half-formed old ideas reshape themselves into new ones or are just trimmed to fit with one another. Sometimes whole structures of ideas come rushing at once.

The next day they feel so silly and stupid I can’t bear to even think about them anymore.

Perhaps I should really just write stuff down as I come up with it, but I can’t help feeling that something I’ve written down is somehow used. It’s consumed by that story and its luster is gone. And since I am so slow and bad at ideas, it makes me more hesitant to just let go and write; I fear all ideas I will ever have would be depleted in a week or two or a few.

And then a week after… even those would turn silly and stupid and I would stand there with the last foothold on the old dream gone.

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4 Comments
  1. hails permalink

    Maybe the problem is you over-analyze too much. Here’s a thought: as soon as you get an idea for something, start working on it immediately, don’t think about whether it’s good or bad. If something coherent or relatively appealing comes out of it, it doesn’t matter if the premise is stupid (“Bwahaha, a book about vampires that SPARKLE? Who would ever be interested in THAT?!” Okay, maybe that’s not the most eloquent example, but, hey, it got Meyer rich… somehow. Isn’t that the end result here, or are you going for the artsy-fartsy route? If so, can’t help you there.)

    But I digress. You could also try being a freelance writer. I myself have toyed briefly with that, writing a couple of articles for a small local magazine around here. Sure, it can’t exactly be called income, but at least I got to exercise my writing skills and got paid for it. I can only assume it’s easier on the internet.

    And if all else fails, you could always write smut. There’s never a lack of audience for that.

    • I don’t think you appreciate just how firmly rooted this fear of running out of ideas is. Also, I’m crazily perfectionistic, so when I run aground on the choice of words on a sentence I metaphorically throw my papers in the air and go do something else while being convinced I’ve destroyed that idea forever.

      I did tag for needless melodrama.

  2. Then I’m afraid you’re doomed to a lifetime of paper throwing.

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