Monday, July 7, 2008

"On Writing"

First off... happy belated birthday America!

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. I didn't do a lot really, just sorta lounged around and mixed in a few periodic cleaning bouts. While cleaning, I learned that I still have too much stuff to fit into my Rav-4. I could use another yard sale, probably. It'll work out in the end, I'm sure. Too bad I'm a pack rat. Getting rid of little things is like slicing up my skin sometimes.

Anyway, I spent most of Sunday reading Stephen King's memoir On Writing. I have about 80 pages left, I suppose. I've had this book sitting on my shelves for about 3-4 years now and I never opened it. The pages are even yellowing and it smells delicious. Library like. Love it. I'm sorta shocked that I never really got into it before this weekend. Sure I probably started paragraph one a few times in the past, but I never really sat down and just read and absorbed like I did yesterday. I picked it up after finishing one of those light-fluffy novels that I purchased last week. I was going to start on the second but really wasn't feeling it. So I went into my bedroom and opened the box of packed books--King's was on top so I pulled it out in hope that maybe it would give me a nugget of inspiration, motivation, and desire. Or perhaps pull me out of this self-inflicted funk.

Not sure that it's enticed my desire to create, but I did underline a few things that hit home. I will share them here:

"I was ashamed. I have spent a good many years since--too many, I think--being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all."

"Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affection. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as 'good' and others sorts as 'bad,' is fearful behavior."

"What would be very wrong, I think, is to turn away from what you know and like (or love, the way I loved those old ECs and black-and-white horror flicks) in favor of things you believe will impress your friends, relatives, and writing-circle colleagues."
I think in a way each of these quotes explains my writer's block (aka: fear). It's all built up on anxiety for September 2 (when school starts). That may be the day that I either realize I'm making a smart choice in going to school for my MFA in fiction, or I've used school as an excuse to escape the hell I've willingly put myself in for the past several years and nothing more. I'm praying for the former, but part of me really believes in the latter. I ask myself: Tanya, if you hadn't gotten into school, would you have really tried to find a new job? Answer: I really don't know! Probably not. Complacency is easier sometimes.

Anyway, random bits:

  • My lovely sister starts her new job in Washington D.C. today. She kicks ass.
  • I really don't want to sell my TV and buy a new one (at around $500+ for a nice one). King writes about TV watching in his memoir. Basically, he says to get rid of it. Eeek! Maybe it's okay though, TV doesn't distract me too much when I'm writing.
  • I've had a ding in my car door for the past year or so that's now rusted. Estimate to fix it: $400. Lesson learned: QUIT PUTTING THINGS OFF FOR TOMORROW!! Will get new estimates before making any kind of decision (that could be good new TV money!).
  • I've been at work for 45 minutes already. It'll be a slow death today.
  • 24 days in Texas left.
  • Today's goal: write something. . . anything. . . just write.

Update: Wrote about 175 words. I guess it's a start.


Margosita said...

I've read "On Writing" as well, and I think you selected some really good quotes. Over all I didn't think that the book was nearly as lovely as "Bird by Bird" and I found Stephen King to be sort of annoying at times. In that old-man sort of way that I just can't relate to. Plus, I don't actually like his novels, so that's part of it. But he has had an interesting life and a lot of success, so he's definitely worth listening to.

Whoo! 175 words is 175 words more than you had yesterday. That's something!

Tanya said...

I went out and bought "Bird by Bird" last night. I think I read a chapter of it from class once. Anything to be motivated or work through whatever this thing is. Maybe I need a break, I don't know, I feel like it's something more though and it's incredibly annoying/tiring.

I don't read Stephen King novels either -- not much for horror. I suppose I'm reading it more on the fact that he's had a lot of success. :)

Yes, 175 is something. Hopefully I can match that today. We'll see.

Speak Coffee said...

1. I too feel like a packrat ... I have so much stuff I NEED to get rid of before I move but I KNOW there's a reason I collected it to begin with so ... conundrum.

2. I've been wanting to read On Writing for months now. (I've never read one of his novels and don't care to but the book was recommended by an old instructor.) I've had a hold on it with my library but I think someone ate the book.

3. Bird by Bird is lovely, probably kinda basic for you at this point but still a great way to feel normal given how neurotic Anne Lamott is (but she makes fun of it so still a good read).

4. Get that spot on your door fixed before you go north! When road salt gets in that spot over the winter it'll rust even faster!


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