Thursday, August 25, 2011

Been Feeling Lethargic As A Writer

I do realize it happens, but I have been in the midst of a very big not-writing-much spell. This has traditionally not been a good thing for me, because all this time later writing remains the thing I feel I do best, and when I am able to communicate my thoughts through it the experience is always a bit cleansing.

What has been the holdup? Well, I have been burning a fair amount of my creative calories on the band, Bottle Cap Manifesto. Which has not been in vain by any means, as I am having a total blast, and we are rocking. I've also gotten to be more or less a fiend on the electric guitar. Which has been gratifying, and a dream come true.

Nonetheless, I remain a bit un-moored by not writing. It feels like, I don't know how to explain it, a bit like I don't fully exist when I'm not writing on a regular basis. I have these impulses and thoughts and signals that I want to communicate to the rest of the world, even if it just to know that I make noise, breathe and you hear all this.

So, here I am.

I have also been a bit blocked on a larger project I've been at work at for some time. And that is, somehow, trying to wrestle a book from my experiences being a dad. Of course this would also include the pre-dad period too. If you have been a longtime reader of this blog, in other words if I am somehow directly related to you, you will have read or heard some, if not many, of these stories before. But I have felt that there is a story there.

I am just not sure what yet.

It seems, almost, like there are too many stories there. Some of them are quite long and detailed, and kind of their own thing.

A lot happened in the past three years, almost too much: birth of a new child (obviously), moving, losing a longtime job, trying to find an apartment for three months, the emergence of the child into our lives coupled with what can only be described as post-partum depression that first hit one partner in the marriage and then hit the other, counseling, bedbugs (don't worry we don't have them now), getting bedbugs again, getting them a third time, having a neighbor upstairs in our "Russian" apartment who would drop hammers on his floors all night long, a child who can't sleep, a child who can't stay swaddled, a child who we love.

I don't know what the through line is, other than we survived.

Some time ago my former managing editor at Forbes, Dennis Kneale, had a luncheon with the reporters, wherein he ripped a story apart. It was very instructive. I believe in that luncheon he said that if you can't describe your story with the headline and the dek (aka the subhead) you don't really have a story. (If Dennis did not say this it was Stewart Pinkerton. In either case it was wise and 100% true.) In other words if you don't immediately know what your story is about you really don't have it yet. The point of a story should be clear, and not leave people wondering what it is you are actually talking about.

So that is where I am at now. I have a lot of material, I think, some of it quite mortifying, and I have about 120 pages of material, but I don't have a theme yet. And without a theme I do not feel I have a compas by which to guide myself. I have, instead, a lot of material. But not a book.

And the thing is I do very much want to write at least one book in this lifetime. A book is real, a book is tangible, a book is substantive, a book is an accomplishment. An article is fine, and a blog is fun, but only a book is a book.

But I don't know if my story is a book. You know?

Maybe there is a book in there, but I am not sure what it is yet.

I guess the first thing I should work on is gettin a title and a subhead, huh? Then, maybe then, it will become clear.

I don't know what compels me, or at least tortures me, about wanting to do a book. It has to be for me, I don't think the world will care too much either way. Not to be too self-deprecating about it. But it's probably not a career move for me. It is a life move. I hope.

Stella is asleep right now and Cromwell the cat just hopped on up past me to land on the writing table. Randi is out getting sushi with a friend. I am reasonably content here, writing this to you, to myself. That's a big reason I keep doing it.

I guess that's it for now. I hope to write you again soon, to feel that much less lethargic!

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