|Let it never be said that Warhol didn't understand art/commerce|
But yesterday...man. I started to believe for the first time that there's something to that advice, and not just that it can be taken if it's qualified with, like, "until you learn what your voice is like," or "when you have a serious writing toolbox," or "once you have markets interested in your work anyway."
I managed to write for a few hours yesterday (yes, yes, thank you, thank you, I appreciate your applause, no need to throw your panties at me), and at first I worked on a dreadful story that's had me stalled for months. I looked at the pages I'd emitted so far and decided to just start over in the middle of the story, and so I wrote a few thousand words. They seemed okay. Ultimately I got through the climax and wrote a brief plan for what I'll do next. I'm coming around a little bit to the idea that this story might be all right, but I'm also fine with the idea that it's just practice and will end up trunked.
I was tired, but didn't feel done, and I still had a couple of hours to go before I could really feel good about quitting, so I turned to my secret project. This is a book of short stories that I am planning to write only for me, because I don't think anyone but me will want it or care about it. When I came up with the idea, I tried to reject it as a project, because see the prior sentence. But it wouldn't let me alone, so I accepted both that I had to write it and that it might not ever find an audience outside of my notebook. In working on the project, I hope to feel a lot freer to try weird shit and get some practice with techniques like repetition and lyricism, which I admire but don't really know how to do.
I'd kind of burped up a single page of the first story in the middle of the night last month, and when I looked at it yesterday I was pretty pleased, so I thought, hell, why not, and got going on the second page. And then there was a third, and a fourth. And then I was done drafting the first story (of twelve).
I think I'll flesh it out a lot (like a LOT, like maybe this will be 1/4 of its eventual length) in the future, but maybe I won't, maybe it'll stay like this, and that'll be fine. And it felt better than much of what I've written in the past two years, coming out. It felt better than any of the exercises I've done for classes, better than pretty much all of the 8,000-word hot springs story, better than most of the 7,000-word journalist story, and better than the grueling revisions on the 4,000-word bread story. Better than the eh revisions on Highbinder. And it was completely different than any of those things - to its audience of one (me), it felt fresher and newer and much more beautiful.
Plus, I wasn't doing this thing, making it more yours and less mine. I was writing it in my own private language, for my own understanding. It was like poetry. I write terrible poetry, because I don't know a damn thing about how to write poetry, and generally I'm writing to express something rather than to create something. I have gathered that in writing poetry you have to make the language as beautiful and as dense as possible, but I don't have a toolbox for doing that and thence creating an object of art rather than creating shoddy, adolescent bullshit. In writing on the secret project yesterday, I threw out my toolbox and let the language lead me, which is what I do when I write my terrible poetry. It was the most instinctual writing I've done in a long time, and it felt amazing, and yet what I came out with looked pretty darn good to me.
So I started to wonder, once I was done with this draft of whatever this thing is, chapter, story, thing, whether it was going to be worthwhile to an audience, too, or whether it was still going to be just for me. (It honestly does not matter to me; it was sheer curiosity.) If it's good work, and it's work that's worthwhile to an audience, then the advice I've squirmed under for so long is absolutely correct, and the best way to write is to write without a thought to the audience. Because then I'll feel good while writing and I'll create something fine.
Aargh. This shit is confusing. Why couldn't I be a patent attorney?