Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Nudge From The Universe ...

This morning, while putting on coffee, I informed the universe that I would write something today, something intentional. Something of some length. Not just tweets. Not just comments. Something. Perhaps a post.

And once my coffee was done brewing and I had it in hand and settled in on the love seat in my living room where I've taken to clacking again, I made my morning rounds and discovered that today is I Love to Write Day.

Well, love might be overstating it. Most days, anyway. There's a reason Anne Lamott uses the phrase "shitty first drafts." I reckon no writer loves creating shitty first drafts. But they're necessary. Though perhaps they need not be shitty. A framework, though, is the point. We need to start somewhere, we writers. Painters don't paint masterpieces in one pass. They build layers on canvases.

Foundations. We all need 'em. Cars aren't constructed from the front bumpers back. They begin with frames.

And so it is with posts. And books. And poems. And songs. They all start somewhere. From nothing.

Last night, on my way home from the store, I was listening to Beck's "Dreams." It's a catchy tune. And until he wrote it, it didn't exist. And no other song ever written is the same as "Dreams." Even with a finite number of notes with which to compose, songwriters manage to combine them in ways we've never heard before.

Now that's a feat. We writers have far more words to combine than composers have notes. And as I once told a composer I knew, most folks are able to string together a few words to convey a thought but very few people in the world are able to string together notes to convey emotions. That's truly magic from where I stand.

But then, I suppose all creativity is relative. And that which comes more or less "easily" to each of us tends to seem less remarkable than whatever gifts we don't possess.

Last night, I watched "The End of the Tour," a film about David Foster Wallace at the time of the release of Infinite Jest, which I've long meant to read but never have. Perhaps I will someday soon.

The Redbox star rating it received was not kind, though I don't put stock into reviews. And truly, there's likely not a huge, interested audience for a movie about an author agreeing to a days-long interview by a writer from Rolling Stone.

But the writer in me was intrigued. The trailer I saw on another DVD piqued my interest. And I really liked the film.

Many, many, many years ago, when I applied for an internship at Chicago magazine, I imagined that working there was glamorous. I imagined cocktail parties with authors. I imagined that cocktail parties with authors would be glamorous.

I attended no cocktail parties with authors nor was the internship glamorous. It was a job.

A couple years later, I landed a job at the Chicago Tribune. Working until 4 a.m. in a nearly deserted newsroom? Not glamorous.

And yet, among folks I knew outside that world, there was the perception of something special about working in the media.

And I suppose there's some validity to that. Working in the media does provide some folks with access they would otherwise not have, and in that way, the media is a bridge between two worlds.

There are the people who sit in the bleachers at the Oscars, there are the reporters who ask the inane questions on the red carpet, and then there are the stars.

The writing world, though, has no such glamour component.

A billion people do not tune in to watch writers collect Pulitzers or National Book Awards.

Nobody cares what authors are wearing, most of all the authors.

The film about Wallace was a good reminder that any myth that surrounds writers is just that. And we, the readers, create it.

What continues to amaze me about writing, though, as silly as it may seem to anyone who reads this, is that I can sit here, as I am now, and I can clack words onto a screen through my keyboard, as I am now, and I can create and capture anything my mind can conceive, and then, depending on my intent and other considerations, I can sell the end result. For money.

Seriously. It blows my mind.

Also, I recognize that that amazement is ridiculous.

Writers have been doing just that for a very long time.

I have demonstrated this to myself.

I joke with folks that my little cookie e-book has earned me "tens" of dollars. (And that's true. It did not make me my millions, but that was never its intent. The point of the exercise was to simply do it, to have an idea and to see it through. Check!) But the other day, when I checked my bank balance and it was six bucks and change more than I expected it to be, I smiled when I realized that Amazon must have deposited my latest royalty payment.

Royalty payment. I earn royalties.

Very, very small royalties.

But royalties just the same.

In the end, it's a matter of confidence and belief in self-worth. It's a matter of hearing the voice that says, "Why do you think anyone would want to read this?" and pressing on, writing for, well, for the love of writing.

Perhaps the day has come to dust off the screenplay … .


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