The Miserable Insanity of Writing

Writing is a misery because the magic can be there, perfect and exact, and then it’s gone. One moment every word is right there, waiting to be transcribed, every detail noted, every moment caught, all right there. And then it’s all gone. To have it and then not have it, back and forth, in and out, like a lunatic in the asylum. And worse than that, much worse, to find that the very next day, all the writing that seemed so perfect and exact is in fact inept crap.

Maybe not inept crap as much as undeveloped sophomoric shit. Or is that just the same thing? Perhaps it’s not a misery as much as a mental disease, that of schizophrenia. And it isn’t just the mirror-world thinking, never knowing when it’s the backwards world or not. The wonder of writing is getting into that world, living there, and hence not being here. It makes simple conversation next to impossible. I mean, you aren’t even you. You’re worse than a gutted actor. You’re a nothing, a driveling idiot.

You’re left outside, staring at things, not even looking at them. And then, in time, there’s something to notice, to wonder what it might mean and how it could be used, how it might mean something in a story. It begins again, when the idea of writing the thing goes around and around and gets louder and then quieter and louder again, and the words are unintelligible and wild, pure and magical like that.

Those words of not knowing anything and will never understand, even it could be sorted, actually with the sorting making it worse, farther from the goal, because even with the sense of knowing, it’s nothing more than liking booze and sex, realizing there is nothing smarter than that. Yeah, that’s the book I’m thinking about now. A big seller that.

Writing Camp: Final Day at Kenyon

I learned a lot at my Kenyon College writing camp. I learned about when to use different forms of dialogue. I learned about revelations, voice and x and y. I learned about repetition. I learned to listen. Chris Tilghman is a lovely man. He guides with self-deprecating wisdom. He shares his soul in an easy, remarkable fashion. He and my colleagues – especially Caitlin Fitzpatrick, our writing fellow – buoyed my spirits, reminded me to be less of an ass and more a writer. Just listen.

The final lesson: Endings need to be surprising and yet inevitable. The writer needs to resolve things and have something else to say in the end.