Thursday, April 26, 2007

On Writing

In my life, writing has been a funny thing. Since the age of twelve, I've wanted to be two things: a helicopter pilot and a writer. I've succeeded with the former (although that might be disputed in some quarters), but as for the latter . . .

Well, let's just say that I'm hesitant to call myself a writer. No, I think of myself as a guy who writes occasionally. Largely, that's because I'm simply not prolific enough to feel deserving of the tag a writer. I want to be as faithful a contributor to my own blog as Bob or David; the idea that I could be a writer doesn't necessarily rest with getting paid for it. Despite my aspirations, or because of them, I've usually found it frustrating to try to dip into my own creative well unless I was solidly in The Mood. Without The Mood, I'd sometimes engage in a stare-out contest with a sheet of paper, and the paper would almost always win. There were many things I could do without benefit of The Mood, including eating, drinking beer, riding the Harley, and engaging in certain horizontal activities. With writing, though, it was usually The Mood or nothin'.

But when the The Mood was there, it was so fulfilling. Better than eating. Better than drinking beer. Better than riding the Harley. (Better than sex? Hell no. Are you kidding?)

Part of the problem, as a younger man, rested with writing long-hand. My handwriting speed is . . . Well, let's just say that a trained chimpanzee under the influence of narcotics could probably long-hand legible copy faster than ol' Hal. But then, back in the early eighties, I bought a Barron's learn to type book, borrowed my sister's old electric typewriter, and learned to type. I don't burn up the keyboard, but writing on the keyboard is one heck of a lot faster, for me, than writing longhand. So much for that excuse.

Again, I've long been interested in the craft of writing, and even edited our high school literary magazine my senior year, although I was dragged into it kicking and screaming. (There's a future blog post there, involving a guy named Kerry Kelly. I'd pigeonholed him as a dumb jock until I saw his poetry.) Then, I went into a twenty-year plus choke. I started a few journals over the years, but never stayed up with them. (I grieve over that failure now.) When I got married in '94, it opened the spigot of my creative juices a bit, but when my son was born in 2000, I began to feel especially in touch with the creative well inside. I think much of it had to do with getting in touch with feelings, especially sentimentality. Heck, I cried more during the first two years of my son's life than during my entire previous (allegedly) adult life.

I do want to become more consistent with my output, and I have, although it's a two-steps forward, one-step back kinda process. The thing is, when I'm in the right frame of mind, writing can be a joyful escape. When I'm not, the creative muse can feel as wedged as a spiked bracelet up a duck's ass. And that, to me, illustrates the difference between A Writer and One Who Writes Occasionally: A writer writes regularly, not satisfied to wait for the muse to find him or her. That's been my failing, ya see. I tend to wait for the muse to find me, instead of doggedly pursuing the muse.

I'm going to work on that.

2 comments:

Roland said...

Okay. So here's the weird thing. I was coming over to your blog to see if your email address was shown here (got it, though).

I was about to tell you that, growing up, the two things I wanted to be were a writer and a helicopter pilot. Really, though, my focus was going to be on the pilot part, since I had no idea you wanted to write. So, imagine the weirdness of finding this blog entry here.

My biggest reason for my own blog was to practice. Someday, I'll have the story that I really need to write, but if I'm not already in the swing of things, I won't be able to. You have to already be writing to write.

During my marriage, I didn't write. I turned too many sides of myself off for some reason. It was a time thing, since I saw married life as busier than single life. But, that was my own hangup, thinking that, right? I won't be making that mistake again.

I've written more in the past year than I did in all my 15 years of marriage. I won't be giving it up, the next time. It's about priorities and the honesty about what one wants for themselves and their partner. I want someone who's okay with me spending time writing. Heck, I don't even need to be alone when I do it...

Keep up the writing, even it's a blurb a day. Once it's second nature, the words flow easier. Fewer blank sheets.

Roland

PS -- I have dozens of journals. They all have one old entry on the first page only or are totally empty and pristine.

I even have a book ON journaling. I WANT to be a journaller. I guess I'm not a journal guy, though. Blogging is as good as I'm going to get.

David said...

Hal,

Today seems to be a day of odd coincidence.

Bob writes a post, and the perfect song comes on the radio at the right moment.

Roland, and I stop by to check your post for 'other reasons' and find a post we (at least I) really relate to.

Nearly empty journals? Check.

My brother the Architect gave me a nice one, in 2003. Inscribed, "Fill it up!"
Is it full? Nope. At least I haven't stored or lost this one.

The blog is the practice and the tip toe through the mine field.

I can't call myself a writer yet but I am being more open about my writing.

When the gang at the diner heard that I like to write and smear paint on canvas I was immediately approached by a Grandmother.

Her grand daughter is a talented painter. GM wanted to know how to get her motivated.

"You, can't. It's all up to her. She paints what she wants when she is in the mood."

It's all up to us, the individuals to wait for the muse or to hunt her down.

"... wedged as a spiked bracelet up a duck's ass..."?!?! There's an image!

Worry less, write more.
David