Writing: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Curse

I’m posting this again – because I’m in this mood again, looking at my caged children. I wrote this after my first rejection. Fiction, not romance … like actual romantic intent, not the genre. You know what I mean.

Just in case you can’t tell, I write.

Just in case you didn’t know already, I don’t really concern myself with whether or not YOU think I’m a writer.

I can see how for some individuals – new to the curse, or old disciples to thankless void – writing may seem like a daunting task. I think even the most gifted individual writer runs afoul of dark days where it just seems like the carefully constructed dialogue between their anti-hero and the sexless child demon meant to represent the immaturity of the American soul is as meaningless as a lit cigarette in a hypernova. I have those moments, too. I’m having one of those moments right now.

There. It’s gone.

Do you know what a circuit bent Speak & Spell is?

I’d post a link to the wikipedia article on circuit bending, YouTube vids of circuit bent toys, or a carefully selected picture of a Speak & Spell at this point, but I’m not a blogger. I use this site as a place to spit when my mouth is too full of ideas to discuss with people.

I’ve read a good number of amateur blogs, fan fiction, novel excerpts, rants, and general webby fluff on this site and a number of other islands of information. I’d have to say truthfully that I rarely find anything that impresses me. For the benefit of those few writers who read what I write here: I don’t separate you from professional authors. If you say you’re a writer and you write, you’re no different from any other professional writer – they just get paid to do it and you’ve yet to convince someone they can make money from your gift. If I read a book that has a million copies sold and is on the top twenty list of every critic I can think of, I give it the same attention as a short blog by a mother of five who is struggling to decide whether or not what she is saying means anything to anyone, including herself.

If I don’t like it, I stop reading it.

We’re all writers ( I’m talking to you writers … not the casual readers ), some of us just aren’t very good at it. Yet.

Going back to the Speak & Spell now. There’s a little known group of musicians and hobbyists that find pleasure in taking apart toys and other small electronic devices and “bending” the circuits to produce random tones and noise. Some devotees to this art insist that every circuit holds a universe of random sounds if you just figure how to unlock it.

Allow me to make a hastily constructed comparison of writing to circuit bending forcing the assumption upon you that random noise is equivalent to skilled and meaningful writing.

There are those of us who slave relentlessly with jeweler’s screwdrivers and alligator clips to find that one tone out of the sea of meaningless hissing static from the autopsied Speak & Spell, and then there are those of us that can create those sounds from scratch because we can hear them in our heads endlessly anyway. Neither method of evoking the art is more important or more worthy of praise than the other, but one method produces a gem out of every thousand attempts and the other has the potential to be a limitless stream of creativity.

So allow me to make this further distinction: There are writers that are just writers, and there are writers that are artists.

It’s at this point that I should be unable to determine which category I fit in. I can convince myself daily that what I throw onto the printed page is art that I’ve conjured up from the depths of my soul, but to someone else its just hissing static. Who’s perspective matters?

Mine does. I’m an artist. I don’t struggle to write – I struggle not to. I don’t try desperately to turn on the creative tap – I try desperately to turn it off. I don’t consider my gift to be a blessing – its not.

My talent is a curse. To have all these ideas in my head and not enough time in the world to get them out is painful. Because there’s so much of it and it continuously presses against the confines of my subconscious, I don’t have time for drafts and outlines. I don’t have time to think about sentence structure and word usage. The art just flows and comes out on the page in the same orientation and hue as it existed in my head. I don’t know or care to know any other way to write.

That sounds like a wonderful gift to have, doesn’t it? This is where the “curse” part comes in.

Once a story is out, its out for good. There’s no pushing it back in to cook a little longer. There’s no reworking to flesh out the plot and the characters anymore. All I allow myself is grammar edits to clear up incorrect spelling and confusing sentence structure. Other than that, my works are my birthed children. I have to carry them to term or risk a premature birth and all the possible defects that come with it. My writing is exit only. Once a piece is exposed to the outside world, there’s no room to put it back in and let it develop.

My life as a writer is filled with miscarriages, aborted fetuses, strange mutations, and a handful of healthy children that I cage and blind like an overprotective mother.

So I find myself at a difficult crossroads. I have enough material to farm out, enough ideas to pitch, and the desire to see my children grow into that adulthood of creative writing known as “a published piece”. I just don’t know where to go from here.

E-publish online? Maybe a few decades from now that will make sense. The things I see published online these days are circuit bent furbyspeak.

Self publish a hard copy? I did say that I was a writer earlier, didn’t I? I have a day job that keeps me in electricity and toilet paper. I don’t have the funds to self publish, nor the patience to market myself in a subculture of social media addicts and trend junkies.

I’ll admit that I’m scared to death to send off any of my work or even contact a literary agent because the worst part of the curse I’m afflicted with is an intense fear of rejection. Second to that fear is my outlook on the audience I have to work with. I’m afraid it won’t mean anything to anyone but me.

That doesn’t just scare me – it infuriates me. I can write better than millionaire CEOs can manage their corporations, but because the CEO’s business is money he gets paid more money? True talent is lost in this profit-minded society. People are rewarded for knowing the right people, or going to the right schools, or jumping through the right hoops – that’s not just true in business, its true in the arts as well. It’s not just making money, its making the right kind of money. It’s not just sculpting something, its sculpting the right something. It’s not just making music, it’s making the right music. When you paint monetary success as talent, you paint talent as just a series of steps that are followed in the correct order. It’s like heaven – do the right things, get to heaven. The problem with that is that everyone starts doing the same right things to be successful. There’s no growth, no evolution – only stagnation. It’s the same overused plot device repeated endlessly.

I can write forever. I can create infinite universes until the day I expire. I’m just afraid that one day I’ll be forced to convince myself that its not worth it. It will be money that sterilizes me – and all these unborn children will die in the creative womb and slowly I’ll be eaten away by their decay – poisoned by my own talent.

Only then will the curse have finally run its course.

3 thoughts on “Writing: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Curse

  1. Someone told me the other day I am not a wannabe writer. I just am. I put things down on paper ever since I have learned how to write. I didn’t need to show it to anyone. I just needed out of my mind. Writing for me it is an urge. It keeps me sane and it saves me. I don’t need a Nobel. I just need to write. Thank you for this article:)

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