We're all mad here...
Whew! Just skating by on the skin of my teeth with this one, folks. I am the worst. But I got in October's Official Blog Post of Bloggy-Thing before October ended, so I can put the self-flagellation on hold for my next near miss. I suppose I've been lacking that writing buzz, the motivation to spit my inner most thoughts into genuine moments of artistic expression. Or I've been spending all my energy analyzing a manga series. Whichever.
But one thing that has definitely taken some wind out of my sails: I now have a mortal enemy.
I don't relish it. It's kind of uncomfortable and irrational and I feel more like a crazy person for it. Especially because I have based this blood feud entirely on one part of one interview with a writer I've never met, researched, or read any pieces by. But as has been previously mentioned, I am a nutcase, and that has never more evident than when I find myself vibrating in vicious, jealous rage over a throwaway line in a magazine interview that was all of four paragraphs long. Who was this controversial, possibly satanic interviewee in question? Haruki Murakami.
I'd like to make it perfectly clear before we proceed that Mr. Murakami is likely a wonderful person, or at least not a despotic tyrant whose sole aim in life from the time of his birth was to one day make me feel inadequate. I'm not so insane as to think my delusional feelings of oppression and judgment are anything but that. Murakami is, I am certain, a very talented and devoted writer; his books are very popular and seem to garner a good deal of acclaim, and reading 1Q84 is on my to-do list somewhere after getting my own book published and living in an apartment that isn't overrun with goddamm centipedes, goddammit. And it is that reason that I despise the air he respires. Perhaps I'm still clinging to a childish expectation of the world somehow being fair or making sense or not being terrible, but the reason for my unreasonable bitterness was this single revelation: Murakami, so he claims, never gets writer's block.
Bullshit, I say. Or maybe he's just incredibly lucky, but the more likely explanation is that I suck. I cannot comprehend not having writer's block. I went a full three years before a story idea I'd come up with finally started resolving itself into a narrative. I'm stalling out now as I write this because editing is crushing my soul and I'm too guilt-ridden to pick up a new project. Murakami sits down every morning and writes for like 4 hours or something. Every. Damn. Morning. I try to make myself feel better by thinking if I didn't have to go to a real job then I, too could write for hours at a time. I can't because I'm poor and not in a position to support myself on my writing alone, which earns me precisely zero dollars. But there's this little voice in the back of my head that tells me even if I had all the time in the world too be writing, I'd probably be too busy rewatching every single Epic Rap Battle of History video and reading One Piece to bother.
The other side of it, though, is that I don't write in that kind of linear, regimented way. If I try to write when I'm not feeling it, my brain punishes me by producing nothing but unusable garbage. I don't write like a clearheaded, rational individual; I write like a mental patient. My process, in as much as I have one, is too organic for that kind of approach. Or for a less "English major" answer, I write only what the voices in my head tell me to and if they ain't talking, I ain't writing. If that sounds sort of schizophrenic-y, don't worry. I've long since come to the conclusion that I am one major traumatic incident away from completely detaching from reality. I’m way ahead of you.
It's impossible, though, to explain how I feel about my stories and where they come from without sounding certifiable. I say "come from" because I mean it literally. I don't believe I generate my stories from my own mind. Bolts of inspiration don't feel like my impressive genius taking flight. I am not discovering or even creating anything. More accurately it feels like these stories already exist. They are somewhere else, real but ephemeral, and every moment of inspiration striking is just the veil being drawn back and allowing me another glimpse. One more piece to fit together in the whole. It's probably why creative writing majors always annoyed the piss out of me. I never got the sense from them that they really appreciated the gift inherent in writing, and I'm not talking about the talent to actually do it. I'm talking about the stories themselves. Not to cheapen any writer's work or downplay the research and careful plotting that goes into a book; I'm not saying whole narratives just fall out of the sky and concuss people into jotting it all down. I'm simply advocating for something of the Other involved in the creative process. Just don’t take all the credit for yourself, yeah?
But maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m the only person who feels that way, or maybe I’m just one kind of writer in an underground well of writers who engage their stories from this angle and allow them to flourish or wither without any direct interference. I’ve read many an advice book from writers for writers, and whenever the discussion comes round to how they develop characters it starts sounding like a guidebook for the most horrific parents imaginable. Some people are of the, “Yeah I keep my characters on a tight leash so they don’t go wandering off somewhere I don’t want them going” school of thought, while others are more in the “Oh my characters are so unruly I can barely keep up with them, always changing and getting off point” camp. They all have their own approaches to their own characters and each strategy is slightly different from the last, and the only thing these writers can agree on is that they are the only ones doing it right. So maybe Murakami is right to adhere to a strict writing regimen no matter how he feels or what his characters are doing. Or maybe I’m right, to be patient and coax my stories and walk away for a while until they start behaving again, goddamnit, you’re embarrassing me in front of the other writers, no dessert for you!
Or maybe all of writing is just making up lies and this has been nothing more than a flowery attempt to excuse my own laziness and inability to discipline myself for any meaningful length of time. Who can tell? I certainly can't. Now leave me alone, the voices are trying to tell me about plot devices...