As with most of my articles, there is little to no format. These are my thoughts, I hold little allegiance to tying up everything I write in a nice bow for my readers. I don’t believe in insulting you by treating you as if you can’t bowl without the bumpers up. If you get lost, fill in the pieces and find your way back; I’m not that far off the reservation.
People are, almost without exception, far more interested in themselves than they are interesting to others. There is no subject you are more intimately acquainted with than the interplay between your thoughts, expectations, and worldly gripes. I promise, the majority of things that come out of your head are not literary gold waiting to be transcribed. The reason I know this is because I know what kind of obsessive all-consuming energy it takes to finish a 300 page book in less than a year. Whatever nuanced, paradigm shifting criterion you plan on unleashing on the mere mortals that surround you better be interesting enough to you to keep you interested.
Always be careful around a writer; everything you say can and will be used against you at some point. If you ask them for secrecy, they’ll change the persons places and things and still use it if your story is interesting enough. The thing about most secrets is that they’re really not that interesting. Generally, if someone says something I find thought-provoking or readable, it’s not the thing they thought they said. Almost always, the way someone tells a story is what interests me. What face do you make when you say “Foreskin”? What does your body language reflect when you bring up “The psychedelic nature of cave art”? How often do you use air “Quotations”?
Staying engaged in your work is something that you often have to force. One of the big lies of our time is that we will eventually find the career that doesn’t feel like work at all. The real grab you by the throat and slam you against the wall truth is; everything feels like work at some point. The problem is that we’re looking for ways to avoid it. The stamina it takes to write a book is earned. There is no way to make hours a day behind a word document always, without fail, the most fun thing you could be doing at that moment.
The reason you can’t create something your proud of is because you are doing your best to separate yourself from suffering. The suburban battle to take the flavor out of existence is epigenetic, lodged in the psyches of future producers and creatives. The struggle to find purpose is the only struggle my generation has. Whole legions of overprotective parents are shielding their adult children form the perils of food service, the sharp talons of construction jobs. God forbid a 17 year-old kid learn that it could be worse than sitting in a class-room spending daddy’s money on a lesbian dance theory degree. The only way to learn how to be uncomfortable is to practice it.
Everyone wants to be the trust fund baby, born into piles of money, wrapped in cashmere from day one like an Arab prince. People who are born into success are not successful. Success is developing character through struggle, letting the world beat you into someone who will overcome anything at anytime. If there’s anything wroth repeating it’s the fact that you will learn to disdain the things you don’t earn. The more you practice being uncomfortable the more you can blow through 15 pages of your great American novel before 11AM. Everything is perspective and that’s the commodity of writing. How can you offer a different perspective to the world that? What do you have to offer? What are the things that haunt you harder than hell?
My writing does have consistent existential themes throughout. I’m constantly looking for a new angle on how to unwrap the human experience, just like everyone else. Whenever you explain what interests you about writing, it always comes out so goddamn pretentious. There’s no way around it, you’re an asshole until you become successful. A good thing to remember is; it’s ok to be the asshole at the keyboard. The only way you have something to judge at the end of the day, is if you write. It’s not going to be good, but that’s not why you write. You write because, if you don’t, you’ll hate the parts of the world you don’t understand instead of just looking at them. Writing is a natural perspective enhancement tool. It’s free therapy, it’s cathartic, it humbles you if you do it regularly.
Finding what makes you interested in creating anything at all is about finding out what ideas you can’t shake. What do you not understand? What makes you angry? I will never understand how someone could write a generic 700 page romantic novel. Why do I not understand? Why does it make me angry? This is where I start.
The things you find the most terrifying are the things you are most intimately acquainted with. You may not understand them but, if you practice, you can learn to describe them deeper than anything else in your life. Because your fears are you. There’s nothing more you than your fears, there’s nothing that makes you feel more alive than heights or spiders or thoughts of flat-lining in hospice. You have to write the things that consume you, otherwise you won’t finish. My favorite books to read are the ones that tackle questions it takes 300 pages to answer. Writing is thought plus work; books should be tackling problems, they should be forcing many varieties of perspective on you with every chapter.
The cold, hard truth is; if you’re reading this, you most likely won’t finish your book, or macaroni sculpture or whatever you’ve “set your mind to”. It’s good enough for the vast majority of people to talk about the book they’re going to write rather than actually write it. Maybe the people unwilling to make the sacrifice of working countless hours to put out a 90,000 word monstrosity shouldn’t be encouraged to keep on trying, and trying, and trying. Maybe it’s actually good enough to be that guy at the bar who has the next Fight Club cocked and loaded. All of this to say; this is just my opinion. I’m a purist in the most hypocritical sense. I value elevation in the same breath as rebellion. Whatever is in front of me; dear God don’t let it be boring.