An “Oh, FFS!” Moment – a.k.a. “In Search of Honesty”
Breaking point: the tension just gets so bad that you can’t stand staring at the screen any more as you wring your hands and say over and over, “goddammit, that is total shite!”
Even so you want to get it finished so you try convincing yourself that it might not be, and thus you’re tempted to keep going and hey, you should at least finish what you started.
And after all, it’s the readers that judge.
Yet that little voice that’s down inside you keeps doubting, and we keep telling ourselves that self doubt is a bad thing, that it’s a hindrance to the creative process, but then you start to wonder if that voice maybe isn’t always wrong, that maybe sometimes what it’s actually saying is that “it’s just not good enough, Dave.”
Guess what: sometimes it really is the straight truth.
So it was that when I came to sit down and really work on the short story I had been putting together for Halloween I got this feeling come over me that it just felt like it wasn’t…. I don’t know…. it just wasn’t saying anything.
That it was pretty dull, lacking a voice, lacking heart.
And so there I was sitting down and thinking about Bukowski and his “if it doesn’t come bursting out of you” line while the main character sits at the window wondering “why doesn’t all this tension just splash out onto the digital page? It’s all in there, why doesn’t it just issue forth like it’s supposed to?”
Just mirroring my self like one of those images that reflects away to infinity.
(Just to clarigy for those scratching their heads, I’m referencing to the poem “so you want to be a writer.” When I originally came across it I remember an amusing comment on the bottom of the post. One user said that she thought “Bukowski is just calling out the pussies.”)
It struck me that the sentiment is nice, and maybe that’s the point, but the reality is that we writers have to work hard. Who can actually say that what they’ve written is the produce of a spontaneous blazing, frenetic stream of literary gold?
And the more I thought about it, the more I wondered just how much of my writing process had been subsumed into the service of writing for the acceptance of an audience through a filter that I didn’t realise I was employing.
Therein lies one of the problems of creativity when it comes to trying to bring forth life into your writing. Do you, as an artist, seek to please and audience, or do you follow your inner vision?
I think the former is the job of the entertainer, to appease the whims of the audience and while I try to beat my own path, I was working on something that was a compromise. Instead I should have been writing without recourse to wondering whether or not it was a prize winner or whether it would get likes.
Not that it isn’t nice when the audience enjoys your work, but…..
This is all part of a deeper crisis about issues of recognition and fulfillment, but I honestly don’t feel like combing through it all. What I do feel, and what I want to express right now in this post, is that the reason I was unhappy with what I had written, the reason that I felt like I had a writer’s block was that I just wasn’t being honest.
So I started again and…..
….the moment that I felt like I was being honest was the moment that it really did all just rush out of me, the moment that I just wrote what I wanted to write without recourse to complications . It didn’t matter that I was exposing my heart to the world just so someone could have at it with the knives of derision and judgement because it was only in that torrent of creativity that I was enjoying myself.
And I think that was perhaps the sentiment that Bukowski was after – not a screed against people working at their writing, but an exhortation to honesty. You don’t need to do it for fame and money, not to put someone in your bed or because it’s the hip thing to do, it should be because your just can’t contain the words that you didn’t realise were all damned up inside you.
The mental block was just an obstruction in the flow, and instead of pushing against it, the best thing to do is just admit that you’re wasting your energy and strike out into mid stream, paddling wildly like a maniac, laughing as you hammer the keyboard in delight!
Because some days you just need to stop fretting, stop worrying and embrace the fact that you might be flawed, you might not be as clever as you’d like, but also you’re not necessarily a bad person. Of course, in this day and age there is a need to strive a bit harder to teach ourselves about the world we live in, but if you put your hand on your heart and be honest with yourself, who knows what magic you might unlock?
It is my heart that makes me unique, my inner flame that makes what I write distinctive, and when it explodes forth it is the most honest expression of self. In that spirit I just wonder how much editing is worth while – does it undermine your voice if you try to curtail the energy that pours forth?
So this post didn’t get much editing. I checked it over, correct those mistypes, but didn’t try to tamper with the sentiment.
And if you want to call bullshit on it, please grab yourself a pointy object – pencil, fork, or sharpened stick – and poke away……
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