Returning to New York City by rail, this is my final post of the month.
I have learned a lot of things in my Rant-a-Thon attempt to post each and every day throughout the month of May, Year of Our Lord 2015. While it has been fun, it is a release to be now removed from the burden of writing a post-a-day. I can safely finish the final season of Friends on a Wednesday drinking scotch and hot coco without the bile of guilt in the back of the craw that I didn’t blog that day. I can now look forward to just sitting at my desk after work, feather quill in hand, and stare at the wall for an hour rather than commit to scribation some sentient thought, witty musing, or attempt to rant and rave about current events, the State of Our Union, or STHTF MREs and again risk offending my current and future readers and perhaps my employment.
I have learned many things but one thing is for sure – the average person, myself included, is just not that interesting or filled with pithy mirth and lexicographical bonhomie worthy of 1000 – 1500 words a day. This saddens me as I had, when I was a child, wanted to be a writer.
How do they do it? How do these writers, comedians, pundits do it on a daily basis, let alone the literary giants? The Bulgakovs who wrote every day, the Mervin Peaks, the That Postman Who Was Also A Writer, that Guy With The Huge Science Fiction Books, Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov? Tolstoy? The man shat novels just pumped them out of his butt, as if he had Giardia tea each morning to send him on his way. Stephen King, pumped up on cocaine turned them out but when he quit drugs he still turned out huge novels to critical acclaim and international buyers.
Meanwhile, the majority of us lovely hackers of prose and makers of pictures with that really good camera we bought can’t do more than take a few marbles and see if we can make a trick shot out of it, knock them about a bit and hope we entertained a few Dear Readers out there, a few Chinese Blog Bots, one or two people who just seem to like every flipping post on any topic, and whomever, or whatever, found this current blog by the Googles search term “i jeest hord.sex in bus.com.” That’s not even in English. I don’t have anything in my tags about any of that. Golf Clap for me.
My first attempt to meet my dream of being a writer was to pen a poem about a dinosaur of some kind and attempt to use a rhyme structure to convey whatever childish idea I was hammering home. It also had an illustration, if I remember correctly. One of those poems with pictures children make. The critics, my parent and a sibling, hated it, derided it, shamed me for even putting pen to paper, ridiculed me, and generally didn’t give it so much as one star. I think they got the cat to make poo on it, fed the Poo’d on opus to the family dog and then have that evacuation placed on paper for me to see as an object lesson. I was 6 or 7 or 8 or something like that. It left a lasting impression, but I still didn’t give up. Even though I was unable to write due to a terrible dysgraphia, couldn’t spell due to whoeverthefuckknows, and generally was dys or pro-lexic or some diagnosis that made it impossible to write so much as a letter, I still tried. Once I wrote a letter to the American former film star president asking him if he could be so kind as to not start WWIII. However, it took me weeks. I had to have large blanks in the letter for words I had to look up in the dictionary since we didn’t have autocorrect in those days which meant find the letter then find the dictionary then, without knowing the spelling of that word, find the entry in that tome.
I did not give up.
In my first attempt at college I took just enough classes to be part of campus activities and joined the college TeeVee station. I pitched ideas and concepts and deep-thoughts and scripts and all that, and each was just not only not liked, it seemed to strike some deep and tender nerve, to go right for someone’s angry spot and just flick it like ticking some tender nerve center with an index finger until suddenly being covered in angry goo. I kept going. Just with my head down. I overheard comments. People who is laugh at me, not with me. Things were very cut throat in the campus closed circuit TeeVee college station business back then. Everyone was competing for an internship at USA network or QVC. They had to have their best work showing. “Your writing is like sucking air,” one of the producers told me. I didn’t know what he meant then… Or now. But I learned to feel smaller still.
When I was finally able to gain admittance to an institution of Higher Learning of some actual reputation, I gave at it again. I attempted to pen an article for the school news paper. It was an honest mistake. What I got was a very long itemization, laundry list, rebuttal, point-by-point slap on the hand by the editor that in summation was: You Don’t Understand Anything About Journalism and Never Will. Ah.. OK, sir, kind sir (I actually think that miscellaneous bastard is an editor of a newspaper, or a drunk, or both), don’t you worry, I won’t trouble you as you hone your craft at a campus newspaper. What encouragement. And s/he shat on my head by email (s/he lived in my dorm and saw me all the time).
In revenge I put out my own newspaper. A satirical broadsheet where I lampooned faculty politics, student activities, and generally caused some small amount of mayhem by delivering this illicit and un-campus approved document in the dark of the night, taping it to bathroom walls, stuffing them in boots set outside for the night, or blowing them in to the campus newspaper. I am surprised that I was not caught and had my scholarship cut off for that. The tell should have been my typos and lack of official punctuation. I was so proud, as some campus protest, to hear my bathroom wall magazine as a sign of sliding morality and dangerous unsafe hostile thoughts, even if I knew my most popular department was the horoscopes titled “Random Horoscopes for Very Specific People” as I took names from the campus directory and without knowing them or their star signs, write their future for that week.
Of the rejections I got for daring attempt be a writer, my finest was a hate letter from the office of The Baffler, one of the greatest publications of the 1990s and early Oughts.
Again, my writing didn’t just get a rejection it got someone so angry as to break out the stationary, the one with the little cotton fibers, and the typewriter so the letters really sunk into the paper (kids ask your parents what this means) and they could pound out their anger onto this paper. I hope I have it somewhere, but I fear it was lost with tomes and tomes of writing my ex-spouse, a poet of some minor note, tossed into the dustbin of history. As most of the average person’s, myself include, writing perhaps belongs… positioned as some ephemera, consumed, and then discarded. Something that brings a moment of levity, edification, or entertainment, and then vanishes into the long night.
With all these issues about writing, one would think I would have thirty rants in me as David Sedaris seems to have. Or is that Andy Rooney? However, I would have to really dig to find something each and every day that is worthwhile to post. And this is hard. Most of life is boring, even when it is exciting for the person who may consider it an exceptional expereince. If you doubt me, read a Mommyblog(tm) or two.
And so, in this exercise, I see that my writing has not improved since I see the same errata and structural weaknesses, same lack of self-editing, and tendency to say pissshitfuck when a more fitting word would suffice and ensure that Wordblogpresser didn’t tag my post or entire site as “adult.” In the past thirty days I tried to keep it interesting, and yet safe. Attempted to avoid any angry letters. And in this I feel the challenge has been met with success even if I only managed to post 18 times in the past month rather than the goal of 30. I will continue to post new material as interesting things occur or I am moved to write as I often am. In the end I no longer have aspiration of being a writer as I see that these little word things just don’t won’t and shan’t fly off my fingers and I can’t just sit at my little computer and churn out an interesting few thousand words.
What I have learned perhaps is more important. I write for myself. And share in the hope that someone else, perhaps far away, will enjoy these words and it will brighten their day just a little… or make them look for a typewriter and the finest most passive-egressive stationary.