Monday, July 09, 2007

The Awkwardness of Writing

Anyone who has taken to writing fiction will attest to the eminent fact that there is no hobby more excruciating, self-divisive, and satisfying. This is because it is, most often, an absolute waste of time, grating on the soul like an obsessive-compulsive quirk, like incessant counting of steps or just-so arrangements of unimportant things, knowingly mattering not at all and yet deeply important to the single devoted person.

It is perhaps primarily a problem of readership: there is no reason to write if it will not be read, aside from the exercise of the fingers and heart that it gives. And there is no readership beyond whoever the writing is forced upon; being published is something that comes later or not at all, making the present writing feel like lonely navel-gazing and no more.

This post itself is a demonstration of the compulsion---readership, near zero, will be mostly people searching the internet for the phrase “lonely navel.” But it is not zero, and that is good enough.

I write down brief notes that may be useful later in a small black book. It is “not a journal,” I tell people. Or, maybe it is a journal with a cutthroat editor, subscribing to a version of the iceberg theory. This is the entirety of the past month:

Jun 5 - “something about gorilla suits’
Jun 10 – “a priest without a god; the depressing grey warmth of early June”
Jun 11 – “I grew a soul”
Jun 15 – “shooting star over senior dinner”
Jun 16 – “packing mementos in purple tissue paper; blackberry pie and white wine, pearish flavor”
Jun 17 – “champagne and donuts”
Jul 8 – “Honda Hill, dead crow; Church of Dawkins: Apotheosis of an Atheist”

Anyway, when you are alone, almost nothing feels awkward because there is no one watching. Writing is an exception. It is always awkward.

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the end of something.