Brackled Backeries

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

This is a musing about why I’m not writing a musing today. Or that was the original intention. I jotted down words before heading home from work, but none of the words satisfied me. Okay, I’m putting it too lightly: all of the sentences, thoughts, and paragraphs I wrote were drivel, consternation followed by wasteful consternation, excretion thrown against the wall because I didn’t know what else to do with the shit I squeezed from my cheeks. I feared that I wasted all my clever thoughts and yummy caffeine on my colleagues at work. (My wringinghair.com story was supposed to be about this exact topic. While I think it went in that direction, by the time I got to the gritty part, ready to hammer home the thesis, I was out of energy, and all I had left was a final spurt of writing sufficient to tape on an ending. Like most of my stories, I based wringhair.com on an idea that is dear to me: if I waste my clever thoughts, will I have anything left to write about.) By the time I arrived home, I chose deliberately to play hooky from writing today.

October 18, 2004 was the last day I didn’t write something. Sure, since that time, there have been days where I’ve written a few short sentences in a few short paragraphs, and to be fair there have been other days (actually a month known as the Marathon) where I’ve written thousands of words each day. (I somehow resisted the urge to run upstairs and write a script to calculate daily average word count—my brain is focused singularly on coding the new site and its features. And before you ask, yes, I enjoy torturing you with hints about the redesign, knowing you won’t have a peek at it for another week. I’m that evil.)

The thing about streaks is that the longer they go on, the more pressure there is to keep them going. When the day comes around where I’m not able to write or don’t want to write, it’s going to be difficult to not write because of this streak. That’s why I thought today would be the perfect day not to write. I already wrote about a page worth of words, and even though I wasn’t going to post them, I would have the knowledge that I did write something, but I made the deliberate choice to break the streak. In that way, the bubble would pop and I would stop worrying about the streak, and instead I would focus my worries—I mean energies, energies!—on writing something of value, such as finishing my stories.

What I didn’t take into account as I left worked dejected was that, as is usually the case when I get home, I’m going to want to write. When you’re at a low point, and I was at a low point with the writing, you don’t think you’ll get better. You can’t imagine wanting to write again. That’s what lows do to you. They sap the desire and confidence that keeps you pounding away searching for something. They tell you, listen bud, you don’t have it, give up for the day. Lay down the pen and forget about it. There are plenty of distractions that are more fun that this writing thing. Why don’t you do some of them and leave the writing alone for the night. It won’t miss you. What you can’t see, as you listen to these internal words, is that it’s Carl talking. You remember Carl, the demon who has the power to manipulate emotional states, to make you feel awful and useless about your writing, and weaken your resolve to continue. You think that it’s your choice; that the voice is your consciousness. But it’s not.

After convincing myself that giving up the streak was the wisest action, I ate a light dinner. During dinner, I noticed something. My fingers itched and I wanted to write. Let me say that again, I needed to write. Thoughts blazed through my mind that I had to capture. I opened the computer and typed the first sentence, thinking I would post something to let people know that I was okay and that this not writing for today was a deliberate decision. That got me thinking. And as I swallowed my dinner without chewing, I knew that a few short sentences about why I wasn’t going to write today were not going to be sufficient. I needed to write. Here I was, about to give up on writing for the day, when it hit me as a rock thrown from the ground floor of a three-story building: writing about how I almost missed writing today would make a great topic. This writing is addicting.

I don’t think I could sleep without at least pouring out a little of what is in my brain. I’ve read about writers who need to write every day. They don’t write because of obligation; they write because they have to write. When I heard that, I scoffed at the idea. I thought, sure, I like writing and I want to write, but there are many days where I don’t feel like writing, and on those days, it’s going to be impossible for me to write anything. I went further and imagined the relief of not writing on those days, like the relief of not finishing my homework, knowing that while I might break rules and risk a bad grade, there are things more important than rules and grades.

I’m not sure if I’ve arrived at what those writers feel (mainly because I’m not a writer in the sense that they’re writers), but this evening, I felt an inkling of what I imagine they feel. I like referring to Stephen King telling interviewers that he wrote every day of the year except Halloween and Groundhog’s Day (I tell it with different holidays every time because I can’t remember which ones he used). He lied. He couldn’t not write on holidays just as he couldn’t not breathe on holidays.

Writing for me is becoming like that. It’s becoming a necessary habit. There’s a dialogue in the Talmud (how about that, I’m referencing the Talmud. You see, Hebrew school was good for something) about habit, particularly as it relates to prayer. The dialogue teaches that to find enjoyment in prayer, especially waking up early and praying, you must do it every day for at least three months. Even if you’re not a morning person, you cannot skip a day during those three months. What the Talmud promises is that at the end of three months, you will understand prayer, enjoy it, and ask yourself how you ever survived without it. It’s the same thing with writing. I’m almost at the end of my third straight month of writing every day, and while I can’t explain what it does for me, I know I can’t give it up or skip a day. Now, if only I can apply this three-month rule to something useful, like going to the gym or eating vegetables.

What I decided to finish with is the mostly unedited scribble that started me on this path today. Now do you see what I was talking about?

***

I didn’t use my caffeine well today. I can write reams (a word that doesn’t get enough use anymore) on the effective use of caffeine to further my creativity and writing. .

I thought about continuing The Next Great Idea, but I’m lazy, and I already wasted my caffeine burst. I’m going to have to concentrate to find something that will keep me moving forward in this writing thing.

Way too late for the caffeine to properly influence me. It’s now drowning through my veins, finding nothing of value.

Where to go with this? What am I after? Writing every day is complicated and I tend to say nothing fast. Here’s an idea: why don’t I talk about something that’s not internal. The only thing I talk about on this site relates to me, me, me. But isn’t that why I write this? If I wrote about other people, then I figure those other people should have sites where they talk about themselves, so why would I bother? This is very confusing. I’m going to stick to talking about myself.

Johnny, why did you come home so late? Why is my brain not working? Why is there nothing there? I don’t get it. I don’t get any of it. I’m confused and I’m worried about confusing other people. I have nothing to say and nothing worth saying. All this complaining and none of it writing. Why don’t I write something? Why don’t I say something? The consternations! The pain!

I can’t think of what to write today. I’m empty, drained, nothing here, please move on, nothing to see here. Ignore the bloody body, it’s meaningless. There’s nothing for you to worry about, everything is under control.

Green circles and brown arms. Polls and poles and Poles, is there a difference? What is their difference?

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Nothing worth saying and nothing said.

I need a break. I need something to use to cool down and come to terms with nothing going on. Why don’t I find it? You’re a pig-headed fool, do you know that? Have I told you about it? If not, then I recommend it.

Where is the voice? Where is anything that’s worth saying? Why do I say nothing and say nothing poorly? The pain. The terrible, terrible pain!