Sunday, January 9, 2011

...On Writing. No, really.

Disclaimer and attribution: With my abject apologies to Stephen King for borrowing from his critically-acclaimed memoir on the craft (I just finished reading "On Writing" and am agog. Thanks, Steve.), I turn my attentions to my sorely neglected blog.

It's ten days into a new year and long past time to start making good on those lame-duck resolutions that we all spew in our 12:01 a.m. drunken stupors. "I resolve to quit smoking!" "I resolve to get into shape!" "I resolve to eat better!" "I resolve to get sober!" "I resolve to learn piano!" By ten days into the New Year, you realize that your arthritis will never allow you to graduate beyond “Chopsticks”, you've just cracked open your second carton of Marlboros, your third fifth of bourbon is down three fingers, and your pantry has been neatly restocked with Cheez-Its, Ho-Hos and Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater popcorn (extra butter). As my alter-ego, Ms. Green, says "I've never met a resolution I couldn't break."

MY resolution for 2011 is the quintessential, perennial, unpublished writer's pledge: "I will read more and I will write Every Day." I’ve got the ‘read more’ portion down, but, silly me, I forgot to set my specific, daily word count goal. Mr. King is quite firm on the idea of professional writers having set professional tasks - 'X' number of words per day, 'X' number of pages per day - and I have managed to overlook that crucial detail yet again.

For the past three years, my writing has been assigned to me by some very demanding professors. It was what this natural-born procrastinator needed and, I suppose, that's why I got my bachelors degree so late in life. But it did exert the necessary pressure on me to perform. To write. Now, the challenge is to write without procrastination. To put the pressure on myself. To demand my own performance. I demand a lot of myself in my day job, so I can demand just as much of my writing self. That shouldn't be too hard. Right?

The depths of my brain ring with Ms. Green’s raucous laughter. She knows me too well. I think she might’ve peed herself.

Rather than immediately plant myself at my desk with pen and paper like a good-girl-aspiring-writer, today, after finishing "On Writing", I opted for a trip to the book store. I felt compelled to purchase a copy of Mr. King's personal master’s class for myself. One that I can flag, jot my margin notes in and prominently display on my brimming IKEA bookshelf next to my copies of Barrett, Bryson, Dubus II and III, Faulkner, Lee, Lopez and my collection of Norton Anthologies of English and American literature. (Note to self: stop by IKEA for another 5-shelf Billy in black-brown.) I grabbed my Christmas gift card, slipped into my Skechers and carted myself to the nearest book store for a good browse and a large latte.

My procrastination excursion opened to an encounter with a local writer promoting his second book. “See?” says Green, “HE writes.” A nice chat ensued and, after perusing the 50% off table and pouring over all available Stephen King titles (the man has his own personal rack in the 'Horror' section...insane), I stopped at the promo table and picked up a copy of Power Grid, complete with personal inscription from author, Art Adkins. One thing I learned in school is to support my fellow artists because, one fine day, they will support me in return.

I managed the prologue of Power Grid while sipping my latte in the bookstore café. Yea. Art's a little adverb-happy. (Yes, I know. Everyone's a critic). I hope the story picks up, but that discovery will have to wait. Right now, I have my own personal copy of "On Writing" to dawdle over for a little while longer. No, it's not the solid, hard-bound edition with the dust cover picturing a butter cream bay window and storm door trimmed by lively impatiens that I illicitly checked out of the WPUC library and must discreetly return. (Adverbs, Glenda. Adverbs.) Mine is the soft-bound edition with that waxy-cum-suede finish on the cover. That finish that lends a sort of sensuality to the touch as my fingertips caress nubby, raised lettering. Moreover, the cover artwork is a simple black-and-white shot of the author in his workspace - cluttered, feet up, corgi standing guard - working. Writing.

Ms. Green is nagging. “Hel-lo-o! So what if the only King you’ve read is “On Writing” and “The Green Mile”, at least he WRITES.” Green can be a real bitch sometimes, but she’s right; I have managed to procrastinate the rewrite of my current short story enough to replace the manuscript in my 'to do' tray for next weekend when I will have one full 24-hour period to concentrate on nothing but those words. BUT...I have posted another blog.

So, there, Ms. Green. Take that!