Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Writer Inside

It all comes down to stubbornness, resolve and guts. Maybe I shouldn't talk with such bravado, but when it's 11 at night and you've had Guinness, the red hot rush of anger fills you and you must cut the artery and let it bleed over the page. Journalism is reporting, not writing. By writing, I mean vocabulary, story, character and making the reader give a damn. Reporting is the $25 whore haunting the back alleys, waiting for johns and living an emaciated, wraithlike existence among the dregs. Little money, no respect, plenty of critics. The New Journalism experiment ran its course and dried up, blew away and consumed its staunchest proponents in a haze and puff of drugs, drink and temporary fame that would've made Andy Warhol proud.
The weight of the writer lurks inside. It's something primitive, something feral. It's the creature you let out to play when your live is devastated, when it's one in the morning and you're drunk and lonely and need it to come out and play with jaws gnashing and claws scraping across your heart. You want the words to spill out, the sentences to form and bloom like the films of flowers unfolding at super speed, blossoming rapidly and unabashedly. You don't give a damn about writer's groups filled with posers and dilettantes who profess Oprah's book club is the holy grail for the modern American writer.
The old school writer still beats his chest, half out of anger, half out of sorrow, mindful of his loneliness and still grinding on, fidgeting with his manual typewriter and ninth cup of coffee, cigarettes ground into an ashtray like a burnt offering in some pagan burnt offering made to appease a fickle muse. Good art must have sacrifice; must have pain. Call it cliche, call it trite and juvenile, but it's true. The misery, the void, it's all reflected in the human soul. It's a window into our struggling state as creator, wrestling with uncertainty, with alienation, with pain.
Writing is the drug, the booze, the fixation, the rush. It is the gulp of air in the lungs, the nourishing element that makes the writer feel alive and complete. It's the necessary insanity we need to slog through in order to feel. Our lives might be chaos, we might be depressed, miserable basket cases, but when the words hit those pages and take shape, when the right words are arranged in the appropriate order, it's like a symphony hitting the right notes or a canvas splashed with the right colors and shapes. It is perfection. It is miraculous. It is something nobody but the writer could have conceived or executed and no critic, no publisher or no commentator can take away or detract from.
It is our lifeblood oozing forth on the page, our thoughts put to language, our essence. It is why a kid with a funny last name wrote stories in his composition book in the fifth grade and started reading at an early age. It's why newspapers became a career. It's why every waking moment ushers in a new doubt about why he chooses to still write after so many setbacks and failures and rejections.
Then it dawns on the writer that he didn't choose writing - writing chose him. For someone whose friendships are scarce and love scarcer, writing became the way to communicate, the way to convey and entertain. It is a life thinking in letters, of seeing the words on the page in your mind, of sacrificing your Saturday nights and sitting hunched over a keyboard like a forlorn Quasimodo. Yet within this thing some dare to call a gift, there's self-doubt and angst. Have I done enough? Am I losing it? Why can't I write like I did when I was younger? Have I traded speed for wisdom, comfort for uncertainty? Why persist?
I want to be something great, something worthy of admiration. I want to be the Jack Kerouac for Generation X, a nomadic tale teller and shepherd of the disenfranchised. I want to be the guy with the nervous energy, with a thousand stories to tell and each time I tell them something new is added.
I want the blog to be something other than dull recounting of my day or what I thought of a particular bit of pop culture or what color I should paint the bedroom.
I need it to be about words, about ideas. I need it to be a dragon flying high into the sky, shooting flames that lick above everything. I need it to be a storm at sea, with dark clouds rumbling and the waves churning and cresting. I need it to be like a lost lover who drifts back to you, arriving on your doorstep with forgiving words and a bottle of Cognac.
I need to be a better wordsmith, more disciplined and skilled and not shirking from my craft.
I need to write.

1 comment:

Big Rick said...

YIKES !! How many F**KIN Guiness was it ???? LOL