Thursday, August 17, 2006

Writer's pep talk

Back in 2001, I wrote this "pep talk" thing to myself. I'd kind of forgotten about it, but I stumbled upon the original handwritten version of it when going through some of my things the other evening. As you can tell early on, this is largely stream of conciousness writing. I had just gassed up my car and I just started writing about that and it took on a life of its own. In typical Perplexian fashion it's written in the second person:

So here you are, your hands smell of gasoline, and a light breeze offers you a slight respite from the otherwise heavy stale air which hangs over you suffocatingly like grandma's quilt on the hottest day of summer.

The sun slowly sets in the western sky as you sit here waiting to observe its spelndor as soft yellows and off whites turn to crimsons and lavenders signalling a sailor's delight for tomorrow. Watching the sunset alone offers you a peaceful serenity, a gateway to lose yourself in your thoughts and the sanctuary one only finds when lost in thse stolen moments you get alone. The
trouble is you have entirely too many of these "stolen moments."

You'd much rather share your alone time, or at least some of it with a special someone. What good are these cutesy inside jokes if the only one who can appreciate them is you?

So here you sit observing, relaxing, caught between the peacefulness that comes with being alone and the madness caused by pure loneliness uncertain of which you prefer. As the sun sets, melting on the horizon you take a mental photograph, a memory for posterity. Unfortunately,
it's a photograph you'll never get to share.

Another eve has passed. As the alarm goes off you pry your eyes open with a crowbar like intensity and force yourself out of bed. The voices of local radio, your "friends" and they don't even realize it. Every morning their banter is a welcome greeting for you.

As you take your shower your thoughts drift over a million miles worth of different subjects. As the water pulses against your face, all you can think of is how much you'd like to install a Mr. Coffee in your shower. Hey, no one ever accused you of having deep thoughts. Besides it's not the depth of the thoughts, it's the quality of them.

You aren't looking forward to work today, the humidity is hanging over the city like a dead weight of moist stale air weighing everyone down. You know you aren't the only one suffering. You can see others plodding through their day with a tired worn-out trudge in their step. You get the idea they don't know the secret, how to release the shackles that hold them in the prison of life they've chosen for themselves. How to just relax and let go of enough reality to make their days just a little more tolerable. Sometimes you just have to let go. Not a lot, just enough. So your mind is on that sunny beach in Florida while your body goes through the motions-- the day to day drudgery, the monotony of the 9 to 5 existence their lives have chosen for them because
they didn't up a fight.

When your life becomes your job and revolves around passing the time between vacations and paying the bills, you've taken a wrong turn somewhere. Most folks just keep going down that road hoping against all logic that their wrong turn will eventually lead them back to the right path.
Instead they find themselves stuck at a dead end with no way to get back on the right path. A life full of regrets and bad decisions is all they have to show for their troubles and by then it's too late, the only way out is to exit stage left after taking their final bow. It's not where you want to end up, it's not where anyone wants to end up. Now it's time for you to turn off that road. It
may not put you on the right path but it will certainly take you off the wrong one.

So you step out of the shower feeling refreshed, feeling energized by your desire to find a piece of the dream, YOUR piece of the dream, your desire to do whatever it takes to lead you back to the right path.

Sometimes you just need to write. A million voices are screaming in your head all at once, all wanting just one thing, wanting the same thing; to be written down, to be recorded in some way. The only way to silence them is to honor their wishes. And so you write. You write about anything and everything... All the things you held inside all of your life, they all come
pouring out. This is their show, the paper is their stage and they're ready to give that performance of their lives.

Buster Keaton used to keep the camera rolling at all times, sure this used up a lot of film but that way he didn't miss anything, shoot now, edit later. All your life you've been editing as you've been "filming" too much potentially "good stuff" has been cut. It's time to put up or shut up. Write now, edit later.

Write as fast as your hands will let you. Write until your hand and wrist are sore from holding the pen... then, keep writing. Don't stop until you fall dead on your notebook and your pen has to be pried from your cold dead handss as rigor mortis sets in. And then, even then, don't let go of the
pen. Make sure you get buried with it. They say you can't take it with you... bollocks! You're going out the same way you came in, a writer. It is who you are. No compromise, no bargaining and no apologies because you're going to be the best damned writer you know how to be.

If your words get rejected by the publisher, keep smiling, keep writing, and keep submitting. Don't let a few pantsy rejections from foppish publishers who didn't have the bollocks to chase their dreams, to write... Don't let them get you down. It's jealousy, pure jealousy. Not because
your writing is any good, it may not be, they're jealous because you DO have the bollocks to write. Good. Bad. Mediocre. You write it all down because the more you write the more likely you are to strike paydirt.

When you write you're exposing your soul to the world, you're at your most vulnerable. Just keep the faith, have the courage to stay the course, regardless of what anyone else says.

Remember, even if you never get published, when your time comes, at that final curtain call, you can exit with a smile on your face because you fought the good fight. Even if you fail, you win because there is no failure if you go down fighting, chasing that dream.

Have the confidence, keep the faith, writing is your dream and when it comes to your dream, there should be no room for com[promise. Once you start compromising your dreams, you've already lost. You're at the end of that dead-end road, full of regrets weighting that smile we all deserve to leave this world with wieghed down in a tight-lipped quiviering frown. No one wants to leave this world looking like a total feeb. Don't ever let yourself start down that path. Avoid at all costs the path of least resistance. It's the hardships we face in life and how we handle those hardships that shape who we are as people. It's your hardships and how you handle them that shape you as a writer. These experiences provide rich material for you to write.

Let life's experiences be your muse, your inspiration. Remember all fiction is at least
partially autobiographical. So
mehow, in some way all of the characters of which you write are you in some way on some deeply personal level, your personal character will be reflected in the material you write. Don't fight it. Roll with it, work with it.

Current Music: Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks


Robert said...

This is an eloquent statement of the kind of motivation which we all, as writers, must have. At best, personal, at worst, lonely, to be a writer is to have a vision that must be expressed. Thank you for putting that phenomenon in such poetic and inspiring) terms.

Robert Garmong

BarBarA said...

Darrin! This should be published somewhere for more writers to see. This is the heart and soul of writing, you "get it".

Maybe I should sign up as your agent...I see a bright future (lots of great writers don't get published till their 40's)