Friday, July 31, 2009

"Forcing It (On Blogging)"

In baseball, you can force it on either side of the field. The pitcher who’s trying too hard to go for strike outs or the batter expanding his zone. I, obviously, don’t consider myself any form of an athlete, but I think there is equating to be done here.

Writing, to me, is an insubstantial thing that nevertheless is either there or missing. It’s something I can do at times and feel particularly well about it, but it is also so often a steep incline, or not even that, but a wall. You look up and search for the rope to help you climb and all too much of the time it seems like there’s nothing there, and you’re doing all you can do by just sizing up the wall.

If I remember correctly, Palahniuk’s idea to fixing this is to just give yourself an hour and stare at the wall. I guess this is perhaps where the idea of the muse enters the equation, the person who tosses you down your rope or step ladder, or whatever it is that flies down on its wings and picks you up. I understand that one of the best learning mechanisms possible is the old stand-by of “practice makes perfect,” but it just seems like so much of the time that I try to write, I only feel like I’m forcing it. Elvis has left the building, and here I am trying to do the encore.

Sometimes it appears to me to be some sort of horrible grueling process, but perhaps I should just look at it from another perspective. Vonnegut stressed that practicing an art was damn nearly a necessity, something to be supported at all costs, with the actual benefit of such not being the product, but the act itself. Just general “journey more important than destination” thought process there, but the thing with Kurt was that even if you disagreed with him it was hard not to see him as the right one in the debate.

If you turn the page that way, you suddenly have to consider the more obstacles the better, since it no longer matters what shape you are in when you get out of the course, or what sort of time record you can put down. Coupling this with an idea that I firmly do believe (that writing more causes one to write better), you have to support forcing it to some extent.

I think the main issue I have with blogging is similar to the one I’ve always had with keeping journals. A friend once told me that I wasn’t very good at describing things and I believe myself to be a vague writer, as if each story, were they to be imagined as films, were taped with the camera in semi-focus and plenty of smog around the corners. Every now and then some of the machinery in the background becoming visible.

What this led to in journals were extended rants and explanations of thought processes, which did not really justify themselves as ideas to be shared. I’ve never lived an interesting life, in my opinion, and moving away from things that have happened to me, we’re left with what I think about things that happen to other people or in other places and at least in journals the eventual petering out of entries can be blamed on humility, not being overly supportive of “me writing about me.” I don’t write for a reader, but I do try to consider the concept of the reader—meaning that I try to justify things as worthy of someone’s time. I think both Vonnegut and Chabon have touched on that.

When I blog, I think I’ve lost that excuse, if I want to be truthful at all. I think the reason I have trouble talking about myself on the web because it loses even the superficial security of a book that one gets from writing a journal. I believe that my fear of passing my ideas around stems from a multi-faceted flower—one side being that I like to keep as much of the mask of anonymity as I can and another being that I fear the chances that my ideas may be mocked, crushed, and that I might be hurt in some way.

I think it is apparent, then, that I find myself with a weighing of the scales involved. The benefits of writing can only be multiplied by way of an audience seeing a completed work, but I have to see those benefits as worth it in the long run. And I think that right now the scales are turning that way.

The best way to attempt to do this whole “practice” thing as far as I can tell, is to set a near impossible goal for oneself and then even when that goal isn’t reached, accomplishments have been made. (The cliché, “Aim for the moon, if you don’t reach it, you are still among the stars.”) For me, at least, that was what National Novel Writing Month was really about.

Writing 50,000 words of a comprehendible novel in thirty days is, for me at this time, impossible. But the experience was over all quite worth it. It showed that I could come damn close to reaching that sort of production, even if quality is necessarily sacrificed (“he was a prolific author, you have to give him that,” they said at his funeral).

The one thing I perhaps did not expect to gain from my NaNoWriMo attempt was the salvageable ruins of different little stories or ideas or what have you. I like to think of them as seeds, something I think I’m stealing from Stephen King, but the right moniker as far as I’m concerned. Little tiny things that can grow in a wide variety of different directions.

The new impossible goal is to write a bit less, but on many more topics. The whole “blog entry a day” thing seems to have taken off, or did, I may have missed the fad, but I’m not doing it to look cool, since I’m pretty sure that isn’t possible. So, right now, the idea is 1,000+ words per entry (a reason in itself for the “uncoolness”), for every day of August as well as today, the last day of July.

I don’t think I can do it, but that is somewhat the point here. And I want to have a little bit of fun with it, so I plan on doing a little bit of theme running and alliteration throughout the month.

I’m thinking about it like that pitcher before every inning throwing all his pitches out just to make sure he has them there in the eight before he faces another hitter or the batter who is going all out in the minor leagues to see if his injury is completely gone or not.

And since my writing production has been very much a mixed bag, extremely inconsistent, I think some sort of schedule will work well for me at the moment. As an added bonus [sarky] Oh, lucky you [/sarky], I may put up little free verse poems now and then, along with more substantial posts.

So now, because I’m finding myself too often searching for the right word to continue with, and my notifications have been made, I bid you adieu, sorry for boring you.