Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shut Up and Write, Dammit

This week I've been working on a project, a.k.a., short story. I haven't written a short story since the extension course in spring of 2009 that I took with UC Berkeley extension, and about 60 days after finishing that class I broke my writing hand. I'm just now writing short stories again. You could say my bounce-back abilities suck.

But here's the wonderful transition--based on my past experiences in writing, and my past superstitions, you would have thought that I would have given up writing altogether by now. My father would say that the gods were trying to tell me something. My mother, however, would point to Job and ask, what would God (or the devil) have to do to you in order to shut down your writing? Would you write no matter what?

God damn it, yes, I would.

Would you lose your job, your livelihood, for your writing?


Would you lose your family for your writing?


Would you lose your home?

I have. Whenever I put the pen down, I've lost my home. If I'm writing, I'm home.

Would you lose your sense of self?

I don't have a sense of self to start with. "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

I get my sense of self from writing. You'd have to take away the writing to diminish my sense of self.

Would you give up your health?

Again, seems like if you take away my writing you take away my health. Can't happen.

There is a part of the story of Job, from what I remember, where Job pushes back at God. I'm not going to look it up and quote it exactly, but Job says something the extent of "God, I give up. Why do you pick on me? Why do you take away everything? Why take away my happiness?" And God says something back about how Job can't possibly know WHY things happen--his tiny little brain can't handle that part. Job's job (heh) is to handle it and ask God for strength.

My job is not to ask, "Hey, what's with the timing? I just wrote a short story about a man not unlike my father who becomes a widower and adopts a dog to take the dead wife's place, and you hit me with this crap about my mother dying of cancer. I finally feel like I write a story again, and you crack my hand two months later."

And God answers, in my mind, "You don't get to know the big picture. You don't get to know why. YOU JUST HAVE TO KEEP WRITING. IS...THAT...WHAT...YOU...WANT?"


God damn it, yes, I said, yes, I do, yes.

So I've taken this week off and learned how to write a short story with the same lack of fear and the same day-to-day determination that I would a blog. I want to write short stor-IES. Plural. Not one every 7 years, or one every 2 years. I want to crank them out on at least a monthly basis, for at least an hour a day, like I do my blogs and my free-writing. I want a short story to come easily to me, and not pick up the concept like a loaded gun and holding it out at arm's length between two fingers, afraid I'm going to hurt myself or kill a relative because it's loaded. It's LOADED. Take it out in the field and fire it. Point it at tin cans at first if you must, stand four feet from the target or closer until you can hit it, but PULL THE TRIGGER. LOAD IT AGAIN AND PULL THE TRIGGER. And if I do that every day for an hour, then the loaded gun becomes the art of marksmanship instead of the dreaded thing we keep in the house because it looks wicked or because we live in an area of necessary self-defense. Keep backing up from the tin can. Get better. Move on to moving clay pigeons. Move on to birds. Move on to harvest.

I didn't mean to go all Sarah Palin, but that was the best analogy I had.

Technically, I'm back. But I'm back in a capacity that is nowhere NEAR what it was before. The capacity of before was keeping up with trends. That will still be the goal, but on MY terms. Facebook was down to an assigned day when I left--now it will just be used for a posting of stuff that I do on other sites, like when I finish reading a book, when I write a blog, when I watch a movie, and when I sign up for a Meetup. I can do all of that stuff and never go to Facebook. And I think from now on that would be best. I was spending too much time on Twitter and Google Reader, too, so they will be limited to time like writing gets allocated, not just every time I'm bored. I'm still working out the kinks there.

But I'm writing. Things, not just journal entries.

Thank God, I'm free at last.

Onward, dear reader.

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