Write Club

I was listening to an interview with Chuck Palahniuk, and it made me realize – I have no idea what kind of writer I am.

I know I’m some sort of writer. Here I am, after all. These words aren’t creating themselves. But I don’t really know how I’m doing it. Or rather, I don’t know if I’m doing it in the best way.

Best, of course, is relative, but it must be said – I’m constantly eaten up with doubt over whether I’m doing it right, where right means in a productive, creative, efficient manner. Whence springs the doubt? Well, to begin, I have no idea how I want to write. My head is full of these conflicting romantic notions about process and product. On the one hand, I revere the idea of going away in a dark corner (literally – one day I’ll photograph my writing corner) to let my fingers tap dance the story to life. On the other, I hold this fondness for the written word – a fondness which has filled up my home and work space with notebooks and pencils of all sorts, and whose marble-statue grip on my soul compels me, always, to wander down the office supply aisle are the Target or the Kroger, “just to see” if they have any neat writerly tools I might need to stock up on.

But, see, then I realize – when’s the last time I really wrote longhand? The answer, it turns out, is about three months ago. (this I know because opposite the page on which I’m now madly scribbling is the last journal entry I wrote, back when I was forcing myself to the habit even when my heart wasn’t in it. It was about Canada, on June 8. So much green.)

So I romanticize writing longhand, but (it’s impossible not to notice) I don’t actually do it. When I’m writing, almost all the time, it’s at the computer, sat behind the keys, a hammering monkey. In the interview, Palahniuk quotes Kerouac or somebody to say, “that’s not writing, that’s typing.” There’s derision there, for sure. A hipsterish scoffing at a process which, at core, is just another way to do it. But Palahniuk prizes the written word in a sort of sacred way, and so, it turns out, do I.

After all, when I embarked on this adventure, I did it, not from behind a computer screen, but from the pages of a notebook basically identical to this one. And when I am struck by my best ideas – my sweet Jesus get that on the page before you forget it and, by its omission, make the universe a sadder place ideas – it’s basically never when I’m sat at the computer, typing. No, those ideas strike like lurking cobras, when I’m just on the precipice overlooking dreamland, when I’m caught at a stoplight, when I’m brushing my teeth, when I’m out for a run, when I’m watching my kids bounce basketballs off each other’s heads.

And what do I do then?

I don’t dash to the computer, wait for it to boot up, open a word processor, open a blank file (or worse, navigate to an existing one). I don’t reach for my phone, swipe to an app, open it, create a note, title it and punch away with my thumbs. No! When the idea strikes, I’m reaching for pencil and paper, because there is nothing simpler, there’s nothing in the way of that.

And yeah. I’ll go hippie-dippie and affirm that there’s still something magical about the scratching of my papermate 0.7 on a sheet of clean, lined paper.

It doesn’t escape my notice that my tone, of late, is full of resolve and enthusiasm: things I want to try, things I want to do, ways I want to be better. Maybe it’s the hint of fall in the air in these recent mornings – it feels like we’re about to shrug off the heavy sweat-cloak of summer. Maybe it’s just the right stimulus striking at the right time, like lightning forking through the primordial ooze and spawning a brand new genesis.

Or maybe it’s just Chuck Palahniuk’s word-seeds falling on fertile soil between my ears.

Whatever it is, I’ll take it. And when it’s time to write in the days and weeks to come, I’ll be considering my notebooks first.

This post is part of stream of consciousness Saturday.

7 thoughts on “Write Club

  1. You comment – :”It doesn’t escape my notice that my tone, of late, is full of resolve and enthusiasm”.

    Your fans down here in Australia have noted the same. The last month or so you’ve been positively on fire, reminiscent of the glory days of 2014 – 2016. Your blogging mojo has been revving like a car-hoon performing smoke-churning donuts in a backlot alleyway, and we’re all the better for it.

    Ps. Can’t help thinking the pic looks a little like a marriage celebrants’ vows book about to be read out at a garden wedding. Subliminally, (and let’s consider it from the standpoint that authorial intention does not need to be present for it to be legitimately there and a thing) could this be you committing to undergoing a renewal of your writing vows in the presence of we your readers?

    Go on Pav – admit that once you get past the whackiness of that unique reading of the picture there might just be something to it – even if you weren’t aware of it at the time of taking and uploading the image. In any case, you’re in a purple patch at present and long may it continue..

    Liked by 1 person

    • The simple truth is, I had a lovely verandah to write from this morning, and it seemed a shame to waste it — so I snapped the pic. What you see in the book is nothing like a vow; it’s just the lunatic longhanded draft of this very post. However, as I always tell my students, the meaning that matters is the meaning that matters *to you*, so whatever you read into it is fair game …

      Liked by 1 person

      • You say simple truth. I say inconvenient truth.

        Thankyou Pav for allowing me my own “I DO” take on the pic and for you not attempting to micro-manage tight-fisted intentionalist notions of interpretation.

        As Mark Bevir (University of California) observed in his book THE LOGIC OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS meanings derived from texts or things can most certainly be generated by both authors AND readers.

        That lovely verandah btw looks like it opens on to an 18 hole golf course.


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