Wednesday, December 18, 2013

writing about writing about not writing

The accepted wisdom is that writing is mostly rewriting, but rewriting still feels to me a bit like cheating. Rewriting is refinement. It is a cutting away of excess, and it hurts because a lot of times it means "killing your darlings" -- facing with a cold, calculating courage the fact that a lot of the writing you thought was so evocative and true and wonderful is actually just self-indulgent bull-bollocks. Rewriting is hard, painful work, but easier, I think, than leaping out into the void of original creation.

First drafts are torture. 

Not only do you have to somehow remain willfully ignorant of the fact that most of what you're writing is garbage, but there is also no roadmap -- not if you're doing it right. If you are doing it right, each first draft is a completely novel (so to speak) experience, and the only way to begin is with faith. Faith that you have something worthwhile to say. Faith that your voice is worth listening to. Faith that it's not all just Sisyphean nonsense.

Faith is hard. 

It is therefore with some suspicion that I view all the re-writing I've been doing in the past month or so. Yes, I've kept busy. And yes, my work has gotten better as a result. But knowing, as I do, what a fearful, sniveling little faithless beast I can be, I tend to wonder if all the rewrites and all the "alternate creative projects" have just been tricks to avoid leaping, once again, into the unknown.

What to do?

Do I knit my brow, take up my pen, and slash my way through the thicket? Or do I recognize this for the unhealthy productivity-obsessive mentality that it is and just STOP. Can anyone ever just stop? Does anyone know how to get an overactive brain to chill the eff out? 

The answer, of course, is to sit down and write a blog post. It's been almost a week, after all, and we can't have the internets thinking I've got nothing to write about. Write about writing. Write about not writing. Write about kidding myself into thinking that getting on the internets and writing about not writing on the internets is healthier than either learning to be still, or actually taking a leap of faith and starting something new, today. 

It does get a bit old, sometimes.

Anybody wanna trade brains?



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