Introspective Ride On Thermals

Winging it.

Upheavals, interruptions, discombobulations. These eventually morph into the norm, and the few quiet moments in the day severely mess with their flow. Then, when you think it is all settled, and you get absolutely nothing done on the writing side, there is a quiet realisation – it doesn’t quite make it to an epiphany – namely that they have always been there, those upheavals and interruptions. It is only now that you have become sensitive to them, because the writing is not going as well as it used to.

My approach to writing has changed, and this has made it more of a challenge to write. What do I mean by approach, though? I’m not talking about stalking the desk rather than marching up to it, so much, although that could be a consequence. Avoiding the desk altogether, more like. But, I’m more suggesting that I cannot comfortably sit down and just write anything anymore. It used to be quite easy to get a thousand words down in a writing session, but eventually I started feeling dissatisfied with the result. Or, in a more complicated way, it was only supposed to be the warm-up to the real writing. I was supposed to follow up this enthusiastic burst of writing with actual writing. By which I think I mean, fiction. Scenes from the novel, for instance, or at least backstories. What really happened was that I wrote the warm-up session – most often a journal entry – and then got up. Left the desk, the study, the planetary system. Done. So, for almost a year I wrote quite a few words, a considerable number of journal entries, but very little fiction. I even did some real work on the novel. I call it planning, but of course it isn’t really planning, because there are no goals involved, no deadlines. I’m not about to throw all that out, but I do know now that by writing, I mean writing fiction. And this is the difficult part. 

Why? Why is it so difficult? First, we have to clear up what I mean by fiction, I suppose. It’s the stuff that makes up the story. All of it. The made up stuff that doesn’t exist and never has. Nothing happened, and yet I will spend a whole lot of energy and time working on it. I will make up everything. That is the fiction. Not the lie, the fiction. The lie is that I will do it, but the fiction is what I make up, what I suck out of my thumb. The fiction part is not so difficult, either. Writing the fiction in a way that I find satisfying is the difficult part. All obvious stuff, but I need to set it out. It has been my insight over the last few weeks. A creeping realisation. So when I say obvious I obviously mean to anyone who has attempted to write fiction other than me. Or, it is obvious to me now. It is something new I have come to learn, and I wish I could’ve learned this earlier. Writing fiction is fiendishly difficult, and the circling of the desk is a consequence of it. Cruising the thermals at a comfortable altitude, looking for a tasty carcass. Is the norm.

It takes courage to sit down at the desk rather than to circle it at this height. It takes courage to fill that blank page with fiction, because look at it. It used to be a beautiful blank page. Look at what you’ve done to it. 

I also had a less clear, less thought out, idea about the writing process which is related. To the blank page fear, but also to the writing process itself. It has to do with the infinite possibilities of that blank page. Each sentence written on it reduces the number of possibilities. It is not possible, nor desired, to capture everything in a scene, but in a way every bit you set down on the page drastically reduces the number of other bits that you can set down, for instance. Each sentence is the result of a choice made among a number of possible other sentences, but it also reduces the number of possible follow up sentences. With every sentence the writer has to run through a telephone directory of possibilities, knowing that the sentence will force them into a direction, a channel which cannot simply be jumped at some later point. Changing channel most often means rewriting the whole damn thing. All those decisions take their toll on the brain. That channel is incredibly important. A ‘flow’ session happens, I’d wager, when the channel has been created and the sentences are just pouring out onto the page. It is incredibly satisfying, but. There is always this niggly feeling that all this ‘flow’ is happening in a channel that will have to be rejected again later, because it is flowing in a direction that was never going to work. 

And this doesn’t even touch on the quality of writing, the taste and mouthfeel of every sentence. 

I realise that this is still circling the desk, still riding the thermals, instead of getting down to the carcass and getting bloody. I really need to do something about these metaphors.

Blister On Your Little Finger

In which I certainly don’t advise you not to not write if you don’t not want to. Or something.

There is no shame in not writing every day. There are so many people of the writing profession who will tell you to write every day. Most apps are geared towards writing every day. So many words. It’s like having to drink x many glasses of water every day. It’s bullshit. What size glass would that be anyway? Don’t get me wrong. I write every day. If I don’t I don’t sell any books. But that’s me. Write whenever you feel like writing. I, for one, won’t judge you. I will sell more books than you but that’s not the point, is it?

Man, advice. So overrated.┬áDon’t fall for it. Unless I’m doing the advising, obviously. I should read novels written by those who write books telling me how to write. I really should, but I can’t be fucked. I’ve never heard of them.┬áThe novels or the authors.

The getting up at six in the morning to write has been tough. In fact, it’s been traumatic to the point of blubbing, but I’ve managed for roughly two weeks now. I get up, make coffee, feed the cats, and then get back in bed. Then I sit and drink the coffee. After that I write. I wake up after writing when I have the second cup of coffee. The writing itself has been excruciating as well. It is a tough scene as I’ve described somewhere else. Most of the mornings I manage about a paragraph in the hour, maybe five hundred words. Within that paragraph would be maybe one sentence I’d keep as a kind of seed point for the next morning. It took about a week to gather one paragraph that I feel captured what I was getting at. I have since deleted that paragraph as well, but no-one said it was going to be easy. Then yesterday morning I had a bit of a breakthrough. I wrote for an hour and a half (rounding up, okay?) non-stop. It was fabulous to just write like that. In the end I wasn’t convinced of what I wrote, but I feel that I’ve found the right approach to the scene. It should now be easier to get it done, I think. I thought. This morning I wrote quite a bit, but deleted it all again. The approach is right, but sometimes I write myself into a corner and the only thing is to reverse all the way out.

I can tell you, though, that yesterday I was on a high the whole day after that writing session. A reminder of what it is all about (just don’t ask me – it’s already slipped my mind).

Some mornings I’d write a sentence and then just sit there going through all the possible permutations of what can follow that sentence. Spend an hour just sitting there and in the end feel like an idiot, delete the sentence. Hope the next morning will provide me with a more lucrative sentence. It’s probably reminiscent of a beginner chess player trying to go through all the possible moves in their head every turn. It’s exhausting and not entirely satisfying, is what it is. Then you hit an hour of flow and you think, that’s the shit right there. Naturally, the next morning it really is shit, but hopefully you can build a shitman from it. Ugh. My sense of humour must’ve taken a knock.

An Augmented Scene

In which I agonize over a scene I can’t get right. And say something about literature. I think.

I am trying to write a scene. It’s not a particularly complex scene or, at least, it did not seem so when I visualised it. The general idea is for the protagonist to move from one platform on a train station to another. She doesn’t make it all the way to the other one, but instead gets kidnapped. Even the kidnapping is quite straightforward and she is unconscious for most of it. Continue reading “An Augmented Scene”

Groggy Fob Watches

In which we measure entropy with a fob watch.

Groggy. Look at that beauty. Grogginess. No, groggy is the one. Groggy groggy groggy. I feel so groggy. Say it. Feel its rrrr, its ghghghg.

I woke up this morning some time not long before the alarm. I know that because I fell asleep again and immediately the alarm went off. I was gone deep. That’s a well constructed sentence, that is. You know it, because you’ve been there. Now I’m sitting here with the aftermath, the fallout, the debris of who knows what kind of chemicals floating between and among the synapses. From completely unconscious to alarming consciousness in the space of a few seconds. The things we do to ourselves. Continue reading “Groggy Fob Watches”

Reading, Rereading

In which I stumble through The Gray House and find my way back to the front door.

I dreamt of a Borat-like character last night. Some vaguely east European character. I was this man with the funny accent. Why, though? I’m binge-watching a series about zombies. In wherever America and everyone have deep south American accents. Yee-haw and all that. Even the zombies growl and lament in the accent. Why do I dream I’m Borat? It is a disturbing mystery, I tell you. Continue reading “Reading, Rereading”

Troubled Thoughts

I am having some trouble writing these days. Perhaps I’ve become to used to not writing. A habit of not writing. It has to be broken.

Which is indeed why I am sitting in front of you, writing, at six in the morning. Hard habits need to get kicked real hard in the teeth. And by teeth I mean… Self-motivation. I have the tomato timer running as well. It’s serious. 

A pity that it has to be this way. It is not as if I don’t want to write. I want to write so desperately that I am writing at six in the morning, even though I only went to sleep at twelve. Why does it work like this? I can hardly see the damn screen. It’s as if writing is a negative thing that I want to get out of the way as early as possible so I can have the rest of the day writing free? This is somehow not really how it is, and yet, here we are. Continue reading “Troubled Thoughts”

Stumbling Through The Plateaus

But what does it all mean? he wondered.

Yesterday was a write off.

I always maintained that I will never become an alcoholic because hangovers are too unpleasant. Goes to show how naive I am. What happens is that instead of drinking fit, one becomes hangover fit. It’s a nasty fitness, of course, because it’s not so much the hangover that somehow, miraculously, gets more pleasant. There is what I call an isostatic effect that kicks in. Essentially, one settles into a level of unpleasantness – an ambient unpleasantness which means that one’s discernment is recalibrated. It is quite insidious. On the other hand it reduces the abyss to abyssinian rather than abyssal, if you understand my meaning.

Continue reading “Stumbling Through The Plateaus”

Properly Educated

 She was almost there. Just a few more steps…

Not all boomerangs come back, said the scientist. This is quite true, I can confirm. On the other hand it is often a relief not having the boomerang coming back. Those things can take your head off. We played with them on the rugby field which wasn’t far from our house. Frisbees, often, but every now and then someone would bring a frigging boomerang, and so we then had to figure out how to throw it so it’d come back. Eventually someone would manage to do it and it was frightening – everyone scattering in every direction. That thing came back hard. It made a noise like a stealth gunship as it whirred by. Continue reading “Properly Educated”

Tragedy Of The Common Sense

This is not sitting right with me, but the alternative is clearly not an option.

The bit I posted yesterday on the 4thewords forum has clearly done the lead balloon thing. It is stuck at the end of the thread among all those pithy, humorous entries like an Ever Given in the Suez channel. So it goes. I didn’t expect anything less. It’s not the first time I misread the rules and ‘stuck an aubergine in my ear.’

Don’t get me wrong, and this is probably the really sad part, I like my entry. It does literally what they asked for: describe badly. But there are explicit rules and there are community understood rules. Common sense, even, and I don’t have any. Continue reading “Tragedy Of The Common Sense”