Since being back here (and by here, I mean on the decidedly non-lurking side of the interwebs), I’ve been obsessed with the notion of writing another post. I’ve spent the last three days fretting, worrying about what to write next. What should my next post be? What would I want to read? How self-indulgent should it be? What about my life should I share? What should I call you when I refer to you in my post? What if I hate all the things I write? What if everyone else hates the things I write?
No, really – it has gotten quite out of hand.
I’ve been chasing some kind of a Perfect Post.
I have this notion that the minute I sit and put words on (often virtual) paper, they should be brilliant. (I assure you that the Composition 101 teacher in me scoffs at this notion and brandishes the pen to mark up my draft. Revise, Edit, Edit, she says. And Don’t Expect Perfection On the First Draft. My inner Composition Teacher is less ridiculous than Me.)
In several moments, I’m terrified that whatever I write next won’t ever be like Anne Boyer‘s delightful, streaminess. Very likely, it will be deeply lacking in even the more mainstream, Mindy Kalingesque, tongue-in-cheek humor. And yes, it will also very likely fail to achieve the very admirable Amy-Poehlerish standards of sharpness, and humor-through-honesty.
In other moments, I’m terrified that I don’t have anything to say. That I have no ideas.That I don’t belong where I have historically imagined that I do.
…That I am not the genius that I secretly hope I am.
This, dearest reader, is a vortexy vortex of despair.
To borrow my very patient Jay’s metaphor, it is like expecting to have a perfect game of tennis after years of staying off the court – based on the fact that at some point, many years ago, you used to enjoy the game, and you used to be a good player. (Comment / Aside to the imaginary reader “Yeah, yeah. Save it. I know you already knew this, genius. Move along. I’m new here. Kind of. And I’m learning all things anew.“)
And so in the spirit of building up to Perfect Game, I leave you to ruminate on* this advice about writing from my most favorite Terry Pratchett :
” … “Look, if you wanted to be a boxer you would listen if someone like Mike Tyson said to you, ‘Ok, you’ve gotta go down to the gym. You’ve gotta eat the right kind of stuff. You’ve gotta do your road work. You’ve gotta work at it for years and years, and it’s going to be quite hard.’ You’d say, ‘Yes, Mike.'” So to writers I say, you’re going to have to read a lot — shitloads in fact. So many books that you’re going to overflow. You’ve got to hook into the popular culture of the 20th century. You’ve got to keep your mind open to all sorts of influences. You’ve got to sit down for hours at a time in front of the computer. And you must make grammar, punctuation and spelling a part of your life.
People actually start arguing with me at this point. They think it should be easier than that. But it’s not easier than that. After a while, it becomes less difficult because you’ve developed your own technique. But it is every bit as hard as quite a lot of other things. What seems to be happening more and more (and I don’t know why this is so) is that a lot of people labor under the misapprehension that if they cannot write it’s because some kind of outside influence is preventing them from doing so — as if the universe itself is conspiring against their natural destiny of writerdom.”
The rest of this interview is here, if you want to read it: http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/apr00/a-conversation-with-terry-pratchett-4001
Go read it while I go find things to read.
(*this may be me asking you to ruminate on this. But, on the other hand, it may be me saying I’m going away to ruminate on this. Which one is it? You’ll never know, huh?)