Monday, May 26, 2014

Entry No. 2: How to Write Anything


Hello everyone, and welcome to week two of my award winning blog "Subtext." Just kidding. I don't have a Pulitzer yet, it hasn't arrived because I haven't won it or been nominated for it, and they don't have a category for blogs*, but Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will this legacy be so easily written.

(* In 2012 The Pulitzer Award was given to the Huffington Post, which man not seem like it, but is definitely a blog.)

I began this blog on the suggestion of one of my business mentors. He told me that if I was going to change careers and if any of that new career involved writing - be it creative content, a byline, or just a memo - I would do well to start writing now. I'd do well to prove to my future employer and to myself that I can write, do write, and will write. That conversation was four weeks ago.

Now I'll tell you a secret: it took me a fucking long time to write my first entry. Like two weeks longer than I'd expected. And when it was finished I hated it so much I would have scrapped the whole thing if I hadn't already tooted around town the soon-to-be glories of my blog. What an ass. I had so many great ideas starting out. I'm an actress, a bartender, intuitive, and often nosey. I was practically overflowing with blog entries. I thought, "However will I wait a week between publishing these stories!? A whole week is a lifetime to one weighed down with such brilliant stories as I have!" What an ass.

In my defense, I did have a lot of ideas. When I was bored at the bar I'd draw out my ideas on scrap receipt paper. I'd use big, floral letters and feel the world changing with each curve of my pen. I was so puffed up, I couldn't see the obstacles my subconscious was building around me. I joke that I was protecting myself from my own staggering craft, but - lord! - the opposite is true. My fear of failure has an arsenal of finely tuned weapons. They are all called procrastination.

I took two weeks to begin writing my first entry because - are you ready? - I couldn't think of a name for the blog. I wanted to perfect its packaging. I was caught up in it. One supportive friend said I should just write and the name would come to me. So I set out to write about gratitude because I was volunteering at an event and saw people that lacked it. I felt pretty good about my high horse while I diagnosed them. I was going to call the piece "Is gratitude a luxury item?" And in my head it felt like a piece! (re: Pulitzer), not a blog entry. So in this way I stacked expectation bricks against myself.

And then came the time to write. I have a history with writing, specifically not being able to. I love words, I love playing with them, I love saying them. Those of you in the back, I see your heads nodding, you know I love to hear myself speak. I'd forgotten that sitting to write is an entirely different beast.

For one, it's solitary ("You mean I gotta sit with my own thoughts!?") and it takes time ("ain't Nobody got time for that!"), neither of which I'm very good at.

"HI, MY NAME IS KELSEY, AND I'M AN IPHONE ADDICT."

It is so much like an addiction isn't it? All the negotiating that goes on between me and my phone is hysterical. It's an NBC-style RomCom. "Listen, I know this will be hard, I'm going to miss you sooooo much, but I'm just going to check you in the morning, and I'm never going to check you while I'm still in bed, I will turn you off before I clean up at night, I will stop looking at you when I'm at work and hide you from myself to insure that I don't, I love how you feel in my back pocket, hey what's the time anyway, oh a message..!" And on and on. 

At one point last year I was dealing with a lot of jaw tension and acid reflux so I quit coffee. My god! How my brain tried to worm it's way to the coffee. "If it's a sip of someone else's coffee, then it doesn't count, right? If it's just the smallest one, that'll be okay. Maybe a macchiato? What if my body just drinks it by accident?" I remember one foggy afternoon, I was in the thick of it and I was thinking about something or other and I walked myself right up to the barrista station. My had was on the coffee pot before I came to.

This is how I write. "I can have my phone near me, but I'll keep it face down and it'll be okay. Maybe I'll check it right after this paragraph. I probably can't write the paragraph anyway until I check my phone. Oh, look who texted! I can't write anything now that I know I have a text. What's happening on twitter?" Eccetera ad infinitum. Aren't I cute?

I began to speak to other writers about their processes. One suggests that I take all that time at night when I usually commit to aimless browsing through my phone, turn the phone off, and lie in bed to think about my next entry. I should think and only think, never write, even if the idea is brilliant and may be fleeting. This reminded me a little of a story Elizabeth Gilbert shared in her TEDTalk "Your Elusive Creative Genius". (Go here to watch Elizabeth Gilbert's TEDTalk) She talks about the musician Tom Waitts and his own musings on his notorious, creative impulses. He said he was driving along the highway when he suddenly heard a beautiful, little fragment of a song. He had no paper, no recorder, no way of saving the song. He felt himself diving into his old, tormented anxieties. In a move uncharacteristic to him, he looked up at the sky and said, "Excuse me, can you not see that I'm driving? Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother someone else. Go bother ... Leonard Cohen." My writer friend dared me to try his method, and I absolutely have not taken him up on that dare. But at the very least, I'm intrigued by my reticence. I'll probably blog about it in the future. More to come on that.

I have another writer friend. She is constantly writing. Poems, songs, verses. Her writing journal is always on her and when it's not, she writes on whatever else she can find. I once received an incredibly beautiful poem from her written out on a credit card pamphlet. It's not past her to write out lyrics on her forearms. She was the first to encourage me this Spring to get back to writing and for that I'm grateful. This is the first poem I wrote for her.
I wrote you three poems at once
And remembered none of them.
Would someone have sat me up
And slipped a pen into my fist!
But I had to wash my face
Had to close the bedroom door
And arrange the bed pillows so
I was comfortable enough
To write prefect words for you
Three poems gone and the shell of my expression
Fills with regret.

- K.C.

5 comments:

  1. Never title anything until it is required. Titles are much like picture frames, complimenting and containing the work while enhancing what is their. However they are always put on after the paint is dry.

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    1. Taylor, you're so right! It would be an interesting writing experiment to start with a title or maybe a final paragraph and fill in the rest from there, just to see what I'd create. Ah, now you got me thinking...

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  2. love the poem. love your friend who writes constantly. beautiful Kels! xoxo

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    1. Thank's Jess! Poems can be addicting. It's fun to live life in rhythm. And Alex is a beautiful poet. There'll be an upcoming entry about her soon :)

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  3. Yes, you are cute!
    Best thing about this is hearing your voice in it!!!
    Welcome!!!

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