Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Me and Sisyphus, Sittin' in a Tree

I am a bad writer.

I don't mean that what I write is bad -- obvi, the bon mots that pour from my brain are the linguistic equivalent of Tootsie Rolls, by which I mean sweet, tough, surprisingly palatable, and so solid they will last until time immemorial -- rather, I mean that I am bad at being a writer. Almost every book on writing you read will say the same thing: writers -- real writers -- write every day, no matter what. Neither sleet nor rain nor America's Next Top Model marathon (marathon!) will keep them from writing. Why? Because they are serious about practicing their craft. They grin and bear it. They buckle down. They may not get anything good, but they write like some people pray -- they prostrate themselves in front of their iMacs and hope for the best. They have faith, and, more importantly, they have patience. I say "they" because I am not one of them. I am a faithless, impatient, procrastinating TV addict who will do almost anything not to write. The only reason I blog so much is to avoid doing the only other thing I avoid more vehemently -- namely, working.

I have tried to be a good writer. I have made the New Year's resolutions many, many times. "I will write every day!" "I will finish my story!" "I will start my novel!" I make intricate writing calendars, buy books on story structure and memoir style, clean out my hard drive to make way for the Great Work that is sure to pour forth from my fingertips any minute. But then I stray. I start and I stop. I sell my books on Half.com. Year after year, I become a Fallen Writer, usually no later than February.

I don't really know what to do with this problem of mine. In my fantasy, I am given a huge sum of money (sometimes for a book advance, assuming I've actually managed to write something, but mostly just out of nowhere, by some act of God) and I quit my job, which gives me the time to spend all day writing. That, in my fantasy, is what kick-starts my creative juices: time and money. I spend all day typing, occasionally gazing out the window to take in the sunshine and bask in the glory of my perfect life. Obviously, this fantasy has some kinks. That whole huge sum of money thing? Not likely to happen. And even if I did get to quit my job and write full-time, I have spent enough Saturdays parked in front of the TV to know that I am not the buckling down type. I have the unfortunate disposition of being both self-abusive and self-indulgent: I beat myself up for not writing and then I feel so bad that I decide I should treat myself and watch the entire third season of Desperate Housewives instead.

Woe is me. What is to become of someone who excels in such a specific and not-so-in-demand art form, the trivial, self-possessed essay of under 1,000 words? Damn you, David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell, for already cornering the market, and for being better at it than I am!

Okay, rant over. At least I wrote today. I'll try to write tomorrow. I'll continue to push my self-created Sisyphusian rock. I want to be a good writer -- doesn't that count for something?
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3 comments :

  1. I stopped over from Garalog, and I am laughing and bookmarking.
    I will be pleased to return to a blog that knows who Sarah Vowell and Sisyphus are, simultaneously.

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  2. Are you me? Because this entire entry looks as though it was written by me. Seriously. Get out of my brain, woman!

    Hopefully, since this was two and a half years ago, this phase of your life has passed. Please let me know if that happened, so I have something to look forward to. And by "let me know", I mean tell me on facebook, because there is no way I will find this post again to go back and check if you've written back...especially with the amount of wine I've ingested this evening. :)

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  3. Well, I'm about 5 years and some change late with this comment (I'm still reading through from the very beginning - slowly but surely making my way to the present!), but I'm going to leave it anyway because I SO get where you're coming from. I'm 27, just like you were when you wrote this post. I'm an actor, and I know that there are all kinds of actor-ly things that REAL actors are doing every day to improve their craft and get themselves out there and network. When I'm not in a show or I don't have auditions scheduled, I should be reading plays and learning new monologues and making lists of interesting objectives as long as my arm!

    But...

    See, I have Netflix AND Xfinity OnDemand, and there are a LOT of TV shows out there that I need to catch up on. And these sweatpants are awfully comfy, and I'm reading this blog that's really good and I'll just read a few more posts before I really hunker down and mail my promotional materials out to every theatre in America.

    And a lot of times eating brownie batter and wasting time on the Internet wins out, even though I know that if I really want to make a career out of this, I should be more PASSIONATE and DEDICATED.

    But things worked out pretty well for you, right? Five Summers is coming out soon. (Go Una!) So I have hope. So thanks for that!

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