I can’t force myself to write – it always seems lacking in humanity. That fresh-with-blood, slick-as-a-wound kind of humanity that draws a reader in by the throat, holds them in a death grapple while simultaneously banging their head against the wall and forcing them to sing.
Fuck; now that’s an image.
But the writing process, comrades, is one I’ve yet to master. Oh, sure, all the little old ladies at church think my writing is “beautiful” and “poetic” but I think they’re overlooking the amount of fuck’s and dick jokes I make when penning absurdity. It’s shit; it always is.
And yet. Yet I continue to do it.
It’s like my lovely smoking habit: I know it will kill me. But that’s not why I smoke; no, far from it. I smoke because I love the fucking taste. I delight in the burning ember as it slowly encroaches upon my fingertips, that smell of aged tobacco burning burning burning like a bonfire just for me.
I lose myself in those thin curls as they go skyward, waving good bye as they transcend this mortal plane and get to kick it with the Big Man Upstairs, whilst I, a mere peasant with a penchant for a pen and booze, must continue to survive the day-to-day of existing until my number is called.
Writing, comrades, is a lot like that I reckon. It will kill me, but it paradoxically keeps me alive at the same time.
I know; fucking weird.
“You gotta stick to it like a benny addict,” wrote Kerouac in On The Road, and that fucking beatnik knew what he was on about. Sure, Kerouac was a loony toon with his head in the clouds and his feet floating softly above the earth, but he sure knew how to spin a yarn. And he gave solid advice: you just have to keep at it.
My boy Bukowski, I feel, has the absolute best advice when it comes to writing: don’t try.
Fuck. Me. A famous writer telling people to simply give up? Now that’s advice.
Because, comrades, we must look deeper than these two statements seem to posit on the surface. “Like a benny addict,” is writer slang for doing something like a literal drug addict. It doesn’t matter what you’ve set out to accomplish – just make sure the end-product is there and ready. Hell, even if it’s shit (which it always will be), you did the deed and performed fellatio on yet another stained page: that’s writing.
Thinking too much about what you’re going to write, and how you’re going to write it; that’s the trap many of us fall into when we start writing.
What if people are offended? Fuck them – you write, dammit, and you write some more. Far too many people who shouldn’t be reading this bullshit read it, then congratulate me on a job well done. I’m sure my mother would be proud to see how I inserted a fellatio joke into this piece, but, hey, if you’re worried about people reading it and getting offended, well, fuck off and stop writing. Go find a new hobby.
What if people don’t like it? Fuck them – no one liked Episode I: The Phantom Menace but we ate that shit up because it’s fuckin’ Star Wars. Of course, it sucked, and everyone hated it, but if we don’t take risks with our writing then we’re not really writing. We’re simply appeasing. And that’s something only Nazi sympathizers get to do: appeasement. To hell with worrying about whether people enjoy it or not – this is art, baby, and we’re here to shock and awe. That’s the difference between good writers and great ones: take the risk.
Now it can’t be a proper post without referencing my students, but, even now with my Juniors (who are so close to graduation), that dread shadow of What if seems to plague their minds like gangrene upon a medieval wound. When did we crush the spirit of creativity – that sense of adventure and danger – from the youth? When did we rob our young of spirit because it “might offend someone?” Christ on a stick, I swear, every time I read a story about someone getting offended it makes me want to blurt out every obscene thing I know just to trigger their safe space.
And for you kids reading this at home: go to bed. This isn’t my blog and I will continue to deny its existence.
Writing. Hell, I’m not sure where or when I picked it up. It’s simply fascinating to me how these random strings of letters and hieroglyphics impart meaning and comprehension to people who decipher them – they’re literally just illustrated sounds.
But how I find that beautiful; to break language down in order to better analyze it, to better understand the author – that mad fuck – who’s been putting all the nonsense in some sensical order. Shakespeare was a goddamned genius and has yet to be topped, and all he did was string together sounds better than anyone else. But his words – like all great authors – always have something stirring below the surface, like a predator lying in wait, that compels us against our better reason to keep swimming further and further into the darkness that is the analytical side of writing.
You want to be a good writer? Be a good reader. And that means reading everything and anything, whether you enjoy the material or otherwise, and learning as you go along. As I oft tell the kids, I once read Twilight to impress a girl. Terrible novels (and that’s being polite) but now I’m reassured in what I know I don’t like in my writing or readings. If you want to become a better writer, become a better reader.
But, I shake my fist to the moonlit heavens, kids don’t read these days. And why should they? This is the Digital Age where all the information we could ever want is a mere click away. With their goddamned idiot boxes glued to their stupid faces, they lose themselves in a digital world where Tweets are the new saber rattling and emoticons replace proper speech. How, then, comrades, to reverse this calamity?
Fuck if I know. But I know my poor little bastards will be better suited for the world outside the idiot box soon as I’m through with them.
Point is, folks, where’er I was headed with this originally, it morphed into its own thing. Writing is like that. Life is like that.
You just have to start fucking somewhere.