Well, here we are once more at the campsite. There is very little happening here in Millsville today, Easter Sunday. I sit in my coffee house and think about the stuff that occurs to me, none of it amounting to much. It’s a lazy day. Not much going on. People walk in together, couples, smiling. I always sit alone. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, a loser you might say, especially as a writer. I used to want to be a writer, but then I realized that I had nothing to say.
That never stopped me, though. I wrote two novels and half of a third. I wrote a million stupid little essay type things, never able to gather the stuff up and turn them into legitimate works. My thoughts are more of the scattered variety. I will have a million thoughts and a million non-thoughts, each of these things won’t matter to me or anybody. Especially you. I get self-conscious when I write in public. I don’t have the ego anymore to attempt to write short stories. Each one is too much of a plea for attention.
My novel wasn’t like that. My latest novel demanded attention in itself. The short stories though seem like a little test I must pass in order for the world to know that I am a “real writer.” I’m sick of that scene, but more than anything, and oddly, I really liked writing my short stories.
I wish I wasn’t so fucked up in my head that I could just write and not worry about the details of it all, but I can’t. I guess I will always be a writer writing from the peripheries inward until I get to some morsel of truth and mine it.
Unfortunately I get to the truth and all of my energy is taken up by that outer morsel. I can rarely move onward and into the core which might allow me to jump track and go into the short story mode or the non-philosophical mode and directly into the metaphorical mode where trees represent other things in some far out way while remaining trees. I like trees. I like thinking about them, their place in the world. How they look good up against a blue sky, how light through their branches look cool, how the leaves sound in the wind. I like that. Unfortunately, I rarely ever get to the place where I think it’s meaningful to write about them. Those simple days seem so far behind me now. Simple even though the reality of it is that to write of these things is not simple but complexity hidden within simplicity.
This type of physical writing is what poets do. But then I stop and realize that nothing poets write is not poetry and that includes thoughts on not being able to write about trees. When I stop worrying about what I write then I am free to express what is inside of me. If there is no form, no title or label like “short story,” “essay,” or the like, I still have the words which have acted as a salve to a too rough exterior membrane, a pair of eyes hurting from too harsh a sun.
I need this meditation. This is what writing is. It is not always or should it ever be just a way to make money. When you come to it from that door there is no place to enter. It’s like opening a door on to a brick wall. Nor is it any good to go the route of writing thoughts that are supposed to sound wise that aren’t wise, which are actually just blowoff, steam. You’ve got to do a lot of this type of writing to get to something meaningful or rather, to get to a trail of thought long enough for the reader to accept it as potent, rather, for it simply to be potent. If it is potent the reader will have no choice. A lot of words must be shed to get to potency.
The skill in writing is often knowing which part of the mass to cut out and which to leave intact and, once you’ve cut out the fat, how to weave it back together again so that the reader thinks that it is all just one long coherent thought, a pure lie, of course, misleading to the highest degree and a secret that writers don’t tell one another except by screaming that you must edit, edit, edit. If writers really understood their process they would explain why you must edit and the reason is simply, like I said: we must write a lot of words to produce a few that limited space in publications will allow.
Sometimes I wish, though, that we weren’t so blocked by
the need to look good on the page. There is something to be said for messiness, truth in mistakes, sloppiness providing better lines to read between which is what good writing provides. If we published more good writers’ sloppier writing maybe we could free people up to attempt the meditation. Instead, we’re all so “great” through meticulous editing that people see the final product and say,”Oh, I wish I could write.” I just want to say: “You can!” If you can edit.
In other words, my message is you must lie to the world that you are a genius in order to become a genius. It’s a sad yet true fact. Just remember that the lie comes after you’ve written the original thought, a thought no greater than any thought belonging to any non-writer. We must accept that we are all in this together, that writing is an exercise that can be extremely therapeutic. We must lift from the ground rules the notion that to “really” write you must be great. This is simply the notion of a bunch of bullshit-headed college dickwads who believed the critics with standards so high above the average that they too were most likely among the “non-selected” and therefore punched down those below them. It’s a pecking order, Shakespeare on down, but a pecking order un-ordered by true writers whether Shakespeare or me or anybody else who believes that the words that you say aren’t quite as important as the fact that you allowed yourself to say them at all.
We are all going to die along with our memories. To allow yourself to write is to allow yourself to live vividly. It is
merely a tool. If the words are “great” this is merely a by-product of having become honest enough with yourself to allow your pen to say things that are truly inside instead of creating a style or philosophy that fits some personality that is not so true to who you are than to who you think you’re supposed to be.