Friday, June 17, 2011

The Writing Experiment, Take 8: An Obligation, A Habit, A Necessity

I have a confession to make:

I didn’t want to write today.

In fact, the only reason I’m doing so now is because I can’t stop thinking, You said you were going to do this, Alison. Fucking follow through with something for once in your life.

But then I started rationalizing making excuses. I’m tired. It was a long day. I’m tired. I wanna watch another episode of Weeds. I’m tired.

And then I remembered my big, bold statement on, what was that? Day 3? About excuses?

Okay, okay, I told myself. I’ll turn on my computer and write something. Then you know what my lazy ass did? I thought, I’ll just find something I wrote before, and post it!

ha, ha! I am SO clever!

Or, not.

While I was looking through my old stuff, trying to get some inspiration looking for something to pass off as today’s writing, I noticed a pretty consistent theme. Take a wild fucking guess at this theme.

A whole lot of introductions, with no conclusions.

I seem to be full of ideas. These ideas last for about, oh, a paragraph or two, and then most of the time they trail off. I do this the most with short stories. Partly because I’m of two minds about my “talents” as a fiction writer. In fact, I was just thinking about this today: I’m not sure if I’m any good at writing fiction. And for once, I’m not trying to be self-deprecating. I’m actually just trying to be honest. Which leads me to the question(s):

Where do you draw the line between being honest with yourself, and giving up? How do you recognize when you’re doing one or the other?

In lieu of actually answering those questions, instead I’m going to play a little show and tell. Or something. Here are a couple of my beginnings with no end.

When I was going to write a short story based on the writing prompt to “take the first line of a song and write a story using it as the first line”:

—oh, it’s so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl. He smirked, looking her up and down.
—yeah, hilarious. drink?
he leaned back in his seat …

Yep, I made it through a whopping three lines. And yep, that song I stole a line from was none other than “Alison”—how ridiculous!

And then there was the story I started last summer:

My mother had been dead for 11 days and I hadn’t spoken to my boyfriend in a week the day I met him. But he didn’t need to know about either of those things. I was leaning over the counter at the campus coffee shop, waiting for my latte and reading my horoscope over the top of my sunglasses. I hadn’t run a comb through my hair in three days. The night before, I’d pulled my Clinique eye makeup remover out of the medicine cabinet, but then just put it down on the sink and stared at it. When I woke up that morning, I stared at the small black ovals on my pillowcase.

Today’s horoscope for Aries was bullshit. My horoscope had been bullshit for days. But I still kept hovering over the counter each day, reading it over the top of my sunglasses and hoping it would tell me something. Today it said, “Your positive attitude is contagious today. Your friends, classmates, and coworkers will come to you for answers. Don’t be afraid to share your energy!”

“Iced latte for Becca. Becc-aaa!” This fucking barista was way too energetic. You just knew she was the kind of person who was always ten minutes early to work. The kind of girl who sat in the front of the class and took perfect notes. I knew she was this kind of person, as a matter of fact. She just so happened to be in my Intro to Psych lecture. I noticed her earlier this week when I was slumped in my fourth row seat, half-taking notes and doodling. She had perfect posture. I hated her.

My lord. I have a protagonist with a dead mother, who owns Clinique eye makeup remover, reading her Aries horoscope while waiting for a fucking iced latte. And her name is Becca. Short for Rebekah, perhaps?

Hi, I’m Alison, I’m an Aries, my middle name is Rebekah, my mother is dead, and I use Clinique eye makeup remover. Great fiction! I actually wrote a little bit more than this, but it gets too embarrassing. Let’s just say I have my protagonist—who I SWEAR isn’t a mixed up version of my 19- and 25-year-old self!—reading Richard Wright in a coffee shop, being a smart ass, and pretending she’s okay when she’s clearly not.


So where does this lead us, errr, me? Well, basically, I called myself lazy, embarrassed myself by actually posting these short story attempts, and came to no conclusions at all, really.


I didn’t want to write tonight, but I did it anyway. Once I started, though, it stopped feeling like an obligation, and instead felt like a habit. Like a necessity. Sometimes it's going to stink. Sometimes I'm going to write ridiculous attempts at fiction that aren't really much fiction at all.

Sometimes I'm just going to write.

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