Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Filler, Filler, Filler, Wank, Filler, Filler, Filler





I've been writing so much for other reasons I've run out of words for my playground.


Or have I outgrown the monkeybars? 


It's like a sad little bagpipe here, all deflated and soundless, slung over a drunk Scots' arm. 


I started trying to put New Orleans into words. I got two down on the page: "It was." After that I checked Twitter, brewed french-press coffee, went out to buy milk, returned, realized I needed to pee. In the bathroom I counted the the number of mini-shampoo bottles representing hotels: 12. I filed my nails, which didn't need filing, adjusted the way the toilet paper hung on the roll and cleaned out both bath and sink drains. 


Since then I've adjusted my student loan repayment schedule, looked into series I-Bonds, applied for food stamps, read 17 pages of Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin, obsessively checked Facebook status updates, cleaned every inch of another person's apartment, perfected a new way of evenly cooking bacon, transferred favorite texts from my phone's log onto a piece of paper.


Writing New Orleans. I don't know what I was thinking--some of the best in the world have been unable to do so.


Then I found this little passage and felt marginally better:


From Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize Winner:
"Every writer I know suffers periodically from, if not actual writer's block, spells during which the inspiration seems to evaporate. 
When I was younger, I became obsessed with trying to chart my good days and my bad. Was it related to sleep, diet, sex? I tried all kinds of variations, with the grim purpose of youth. Celibacy the day before a writing day? I'll give it a try. What about sugar, caffeine, alcohol? More, or less, of each, and in what quantities? Many trials were conducted. Needless to say, those experiments led me nowhere. It is, it seems, purely and simply a mystery, the coming and going of one's gift.
So I show up every day, and do the best I can. I've been known to write ten pages or more on a good day. On the bad days, I still force myself to write SOMETHING, even if it's one limp, sad little line that will surely be deleted tomorrow.
Here's the funny thing — a month or so later, I can't tell what I wrote on the ecstatic days from what I wrote on the wrenching ones. The lines that seemed so good when I wrote them turn out, later on, to be neither better nor worse than the ones I squeezed out with my fingers pinching my nose against the stink of mediocrity.
All I can think, then, is this: Wherever inspiration comes from, it comes constantly, and what varies from day to day and week to week is our access to it. So I go on. I fasten my seat belt. I do my best to have faith."

Two words about New Orleans: "It was."

5 comments:

Rebekah said...

"The stench of mediocrity." I like that. I wish my writing had less of that stench.

KaelaQLC said...

This was so great to read - I need to post it and read it often when I'm beating myself up for a bad writing day!

And isn't it funny, that writing about not writing can sometimes get things going?

Today's Favorite said...

I LOVE YOU. For this nugget. I really needed to read that today.

Disparate Times said...

I'm eagerly awaiting your next post Polly.

Mr. Condescending said...

I tweeted you something about new orleans and you never wrote me back :( it was long ago though and I forgive you.

Get back to blogging.