Sunday, December 9, 2007

Everything Is Writing

What with the end of the school year, I haven't been writing much. But I've found time to do a lot of other things while I "ought" to have been writing--playing music, tinkering around with electronic crap, and today, taking a bunch of pictures.

I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, writing is my vocation, and ought to take it seriously enough to do it every day, regardless of my immediate desires. When I don't "feel like it," I am really cowering in the face of the work's difficulty. I oughta man up and get to work. I have a colleague, in fact, who told me I shouldn't even be blogging--to do so, he says, is to squander mental energy that ought to be expended on my work.

On the other hand, writing is the only job that you can safely claim to always be doing. Everything is research. This is kind of a running joke among writers, but it's true. You honestly never know which of your apparently mundane experiences will magically transmute themselves into good work. Indeed, the one experience that is least likely to inspire great writing is the act of writing itself.

But honestly--I spend way, way more time on my hobbies than I do on my writing. Part of it is laziness, I suppose, but most of it is that I want to make sure that I'm always allowing the world to stimulate me. And I want to engage all the parts of myself, in the hope that those experiences will seep in to wherever the mojo is kept.

Tomorrow, at last, I am getting back to my novel. I'm very relieved--I need to be working on something. And last night, while I was lying awake in bed, having spent a week doing nothing but reading student essays, playing the bass guitar, dragging a piano through the snow (don't ask), reading a true crime paperback, watching the Seinfeld DVD's and getting annoyed with my kids, I came up with three or four absolutely vital moves I will need to apply to this rewrite, and wrote them down, with great excitement, in the dark.

Would I have thought of them had I spent the week trying to write something else? I honestly have no idea. But I do know I will happily spend any number of future weeks wasting time, in an effort to replicate this success.


TIV: the individual voice said...

Interesting that your friend considers blogging squandering your writing. I am very conflicted about this, yet am having so much fun not just writing my blog but interacting around it, that I'm feeling it is a life experience in itself. Can't say it's inspired any writing outside of blogging yet. It's been four months, but I hadn't been writing at all for several months, so for me this is progress.

rmellis said...

To me blogging is unrelated to "real" writing, which for me is fiction. It's part of the mass of extraneous writing I've always done, in big and small amounts: journal writing, letters, email.

And back when I wrote long letters or journal entries every day, it never occured to me that it would be draining my fiction. It fed it, really.

I think there's a in/out element to creative work. You need to take in for a time before you can put out.

I didn't mean for that to sound so gross.

5 Red Pandas said...

I do think that in some ways blogs can function the way letters used to function for writers back when people actually wrote and responded to letters. Do the people who tell you that you shouldn't blog not write letters or e-mails? Are they really so cloistered in their writerly tower?

Anonymous said...

I think the guy who told me this just has a really busy life, and his moments of concentration and creativity are hard-won. It just seemed like a waste to him.

The way I see it, Rhian and I are just jotting down on this blog the stuff that we've been yammering at each other about pretty much daily for the last 14 years, anyway. The only difference is that you all are privy to our yammering.