Discipline, Demons, Acquisition
For the last two months, I’ve tried to adhere to a cohesive writing schedule. 5000 words a week, of which only 3000 need to count, those being turned into front page posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
I’m calling this the “vignettes project,” because that’s the first word that came to mind at 4am on a Thursday morning after a champion drinking session with Bethesda’s Fun Couple.
This is the latest in a long line of writing projects, only some of which have enjoyed an outlet. Most end up supporting my dining room table. Well…virtually speaking. Replace “dining room table” with “external hard drive.” What sad times we live in… Because now I have to actually fix my dining room table or print out another copy of The Boble.
From time to time, I embark on these projects because I feel like I’m wasting every single moment of my life. Even when successful, I feel like my life is being squandered.
When I really start to dwell on those thoughts during, say, a Netflix streaming outage, I catalog the things that I can and should be doing. Like ejaculating inside a beautiful woman who is very good in bed, exploring strange cocktails that annoy all my friends, baking my grandmother’s alarmingly unhealthy dessert recipes, and writing.
That’s really all I want to do and, even then, it’s all to stave off the often overwhelming desire to marathon Space: 1999 again. And again. It’s bad enough that I turn to a mega-marathon of Stargate every couple of years with almost OCD-like ritualism. Talk about squandering.
The things on my list come easily. I enjoy fucking, drinking, and eating cakes that have 5 million sticks of butter in them. Who doesn’t? Well, besides communists. And Mormons.
I also enjoy writing. Like I said a few days ago, writing has become my sole cathartic outlet. At least, under the guise of “Nacho Sasha,” where I’m able to openly unman myself and act the goat. After a decade of Great Society, though, I’ve developed this fear that I’m really just squandering again. That I have some sort of obligation to do…something something. But how can I bring focus and constructive production to something I barely consider a hobby?
I’ve never thought that my writing is good. Nor do I believe in any sort of training – classes, workshops, etc. You either can write, or you can’t. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that you either write or you’re a writer. Because everybody can write. It’s not a skill that really can benefit from education or training, beyond learning how to string all these words together.
The story part of writing – the narrative, both in fiction and nonfiction – comes from somewhere else. Some internal demon. What I believe to be a legitimate and diagnosable mental illness, actually. You write because you have to.
This demonic script is fairly common. It fills our diaries and journals and blogs and, these days, there’s a fucking avalanche of self-published assholes filling up the Kindle store. Most people stop there because they figure they’ve got it. They’re in their sad apartments pounding out entire finished novels that will only ever be read by their small group of friends and family. Piece of cake! But, to become a writer (versus one who just writes), there’s an even harsher task to face once you’re done with the demon for the day.
The writing must, for lack of a better word, be sanitized. You can’t write for yourself, or even your perception of your audience. In order to exorcise the demon, you have to get your message through in a way that can be absorbed by anybody. Not your circle of Facebook friends, but the random strangers as well.
Writing for the public requires a skill-set coming from the non-artistic side of your brain. You must turn your psychotic ramblings into something salable. Something (gasp!) marketable. The writer must – if only in a cursory way – respect their audience.
In short, the story is no longer yours as soon as it goes public. Sure, you have the copyright and all that stuff. But the spirit of the writing cannot be contained or controlled. The spirit of the writing spreads like an infection. Once you get into the minds of your readers, there’s no taking it back. They will interpret your creation using their own points of view.
That’s true for every piece of writing – from the work of a Nobel laureate down to the candy gloss Harlequin romances that might as well be written by machines.
But tackling that task is, most of the time, too much to bear for those who just write. Or too esoteric for an artistic mind plagued by demons.
But I’m getting off track. Back to me, goddamnit.
I’ve noticed, since junior high, that I can easily produce roughly 5000 words a week. About 99% of it has been and is complete garbage, but we’ll not worry about that. I’ve never really ever had writers block (something that does not, by the way, exist – again, you either can write or you can’t), nor do I fear it. I’ll be writing 5000 or more words a week till I die, even if it is only ever destined to vanish on an unreliable harddrive during the next electrical storm. It’s the voice of the demon and, overall, I consider it a quirk, a funny little habit. Not even approaching the hobbyist level. It’s just something I do to pass the time during my commute, or at work, or while I’m waiting for death-by-chocolate to come out of the oven. But the sheer volume of all this shit gets the parts of my damaged brain devoted to publishing to whispering. Time to do something with it. Kindle Singles are cheap!
We’re now in a world where publishing your shit doesn’t involve any sort of commitment or cost. Something that, eventually, will destroy quality writing as every mad cunt who figures himself a writer self-publishes their 8000 page rant.
I try to walk a line between “mad cunt” and “not too terrible” with my writing. That’s the purpose of these writing projects. I feel, with production a non-issue, my only limitation is discipline. There are too many distractions keeping me from focusing on actually putting something cohesive and functional together. I blame Netflix. And also the fact that I work six jobs and I constantly feel like I need to sleep for a week. There’s also the problem of incentive. When I just wildly careen through 5000 words that, for the most part, never see the light of day, that’s no problem. But if I try to be constructive in any way I eventually reach a point where I ask myself, “Why am I working for nothing?”
By the way, the only incentive I ever want is stuff from my ridiculously lengthy Amazon Wishlist. Whenever some reader pays a penny to have a used book sent to my apartment, I’m a pig in shit.
This latest project, then, is designed to try and put together some throwaway stuff that can go on Kindle at no cost and never sell. Even saying that I tried is incentive enough to inspire the discipline. Then I can join the masses of folks who “just write” and have given themselves a voice. It’s a new era, after all. There’s no shame in publishing lengthy conversations with my penis.
This whole article, by the way, represents a total breakdown in discipline. I’ve produced nothing for two weeks and am grumbling about the fact that there’s only a one week buffer of articles scheduled before the front page, once again, goes silent…
But… We’ll see.