It’s in the Execution

I’m writing a post right now (not this one; it’s still in my drafts folder) that is swiftly becoming a timing problem. It’s the sort of post that only makes sense to publish at a certain time of year. It’s about seasons. And sure it will make exactly the same point no matter when I end up posting it, but if I don’t get to it in the next week or so, it will seem far less relevant and no one will care. I started writing the post and figured I’d finish it the day after that, but haven’t done a thing with it since.

This is actually two problems I have had as a blogger combined into one. The first is that I have many times started writing a post, based on an idea or the seed of an idea, and somehow found that it just doesn’t work out. I don’t finish it right away, and when I come back I can’t remember what I was intending to say. Or I just don’t like it. I am the first to say that not every blog post has to be a winning work of art, but I do think it should convey SOMETHING of value–and if I’m not really interested in what I’m writing, there’s no reason to expect anyone else will be. Besides, even though I tend to approach blogging as more informal writing, and therefore needing less polish than something that a “real publication” (whatever that means at this point) would print, I still do prefer to hold myself to a certain standard as a writer, which requires that I’m at least moderately pleased with the pieces I decide to put out on the vast emptiness of the internet.

The second problem, of course, is procrastination. It’s not actually that hard to think of a timely topic, but it can be a little more difficult to finish the piece while that topic is still relevant. I’m not saying I couldn’t do this if I had to, but it is one of the reasons I like to write about more general topics that are not time-bound, whether I’m writing in fiction or in the real world. (I would like to pause to acknowledge that at this point I have already done the backspace-shuffle, the typists’ most common finger dance, to fix numerous typos, and I’m wondering when I got so bad at typing. I used to be much better than this.) Ahem. Anyway. Procrastination is procrastination whether you open the file and stare at it with your fingers over the keys or go clean the kitchen instead–if you’re not writing, you’re not writing.

This leaves me in my current predicament. I can either make myself work on this post (I suppose if I hate it I just won’t post it) now-ish, or I can wait until next year, at which point I probably will have forgotten about it entirely. My concern, after looking at what I have so far, is that I won’t get the post to say what it is I am really trying to say. This is a constant struggle for me, in writing and in regular conversation. Somehow I always feel that the recipient of my thoughts just doesn’t quite get it. I don’t know it that’s my failing or theirs.

Keep an eye out. If you see a post from me very soon about the myth of summertime leisure (oo, I think that’s a much better title than what I had), then you’ll know that I succeeded in finishing the piece. If you don’t… well then you know the other thing happened.

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Word Drawing

I have been a little bit resentful, over the past few years, of the fact that I can’t draw. I have wished that I had been a visual artist instead of a writer. I think that, for people who are very dedicated to the work they’re doing, neither one is really easier. But… but. I am convinced that my finished product as an artist would come across much closer to what I’m trying to express. When I write, I often do not feel like readers understand the work. I say this in part because my very favorite flash fiction pieces are never anyone else’s favorite.

It gives me the impression that no one gets me (as a writer–let’s not to into no one getting me as a person). And how will any publisher or agent ever want to work with me if no one gets me?

That’s part of the purpose of editing and struggling to create the story you really want to tell. The reader can only do so much on their own. It is up to the writer to make it possible for the reader to “get” them.

I’m sure it’s the same, sometimes, for artists. But in a different way. I’m sure artists sometimes execute the picture just as they intended but do not really have any way to explain what it means. As a writer I can get my meanings across often just as I intended (or as close as I could possibly come, and of course sometimes the actual meaning is missed entirely), but I can’t convey the picture as I see it. I can describe a field dotted with trees under blue sky brushed with purple in the early dawn, but is my reader seeing the same field I envisioned? The most likely answer is no. They aren’t.

Imagery is very important in writing because it helps the reader understand and engage with the story and the world the writer has created. However, it’s also very hard. Chances are, no matter how precise your details are, readers will interpret them into various versions of the writer’s original image.

If I could draw or paint, the image, though processed differently by each viewer, would remain the same.

Thinking about it, this just seems like a control issue. So I’ll just say, “Lighten up. It’s no big deal.”

 

*** I was going to edit this, and then I didn’t feel like it, so here you go, totally raw writing.

But where did the word “Milestone” come from anyway?

From Memidex.com:

First definition is “stone post at side of a road to show distances.”

Oh, yeah. I knew that. The things you forget as time goes on… how embarrassing. I’m supposed to be one of those smart people. I’m sorry, the origination of the milestone got pushed out of my brain by the Russian Cinema Reader I just finished copyediting.

And the point: I have 100 followers! Congratulations Kevin Cullen, you are number 100. I would give you a prize, but I really don’t have anything… but on a related note, if I ever get a million followers, the millionth will get a prize. 😉 *Cough* never happen *cough*

It took over three years but people in the triple digits like my writing enough to click a button that will tell them when they should come back for more. I am fairly certain that I would have gotten more followers more quickly if I didn’t sometimes go so long without posting.

You can always go back and re-read some of my posts. It would be especially helpful if you commented. But, considering how few posts I comment on myself, I understand why you don’t.

I see exciting things in the future of my writing blog. Maybe even revamping the categories section so that it doesn’t look as stupid. You don’t think it looks stupid? Well it does. And if I keep writing regularly, how long will it take to get to 200? I think I should make that an experiment.

That made me feel much better about life. Maybe even good enough to write a story.

A Little Levity

Some awesome rhyming/alliterative phrases I’ve come across in the past month or two while editing:

Classic Jurassic (we’re publishing a paleontology book. Why?… we’re still kind of wondering…)

Judicial officials

voluminous oeuvre (my favorite)

 

 

and I wish I had something more to say on this… I really wish I could share some of the typos that result in hilarious sentences, but that seems inappropriate. I’ll just have to enjoy them myself.

Murakami Nails It On the Head

This is the passage in the stories of Haruki Murakami I have read that most reflects life, to me. P.S., if I’m ever unable to explain/tell you something, there is at least an 80% chance this is why.

From the story “Firefly,” translated by Philip Gabriel.

 

          Every time I try to say something, it misses the point. Either that or I end up saying the opposite of what I mean.      The more I try to get it right the more mixed up it gets. Sometimes I can’t even remember what I was trying to say in the first place. It’s like my body’s split in two and one of me is chasing the other me around a big pillar. We’re running circles around it. The other me has the right words, but I can never catch her.

 

 

I have this problem less often when I’m writing, but it does still happen. The most upsetting fact for me as a writer is the knowledge that language is inadequate.