Friday, April 10, 2009

Let's Procrastinate, Let's Hurry Up and Wait

I've been unproductive lately, partly because of a nasty cold (or something) that for the past week has left me feeling like soggy cabbage, especially in the head. I think it's going away now, slowly, but I still haven't got much energy.

Then today I found this clip from videoblog IllDoctrine at PunkAssBlog:

It describes very well the push-pull, on-off struggle I have in writing anything, not just blog posts. When I was working on a (still unpublished) book project in the 1980s, it was the same. When I was writing poetry in the 1970s, it was the same. Jay's references to the haters within, though, reminded me of Anne Lamott's 1994 book on writing, Bird by Bird. I should probably reread it as soon as the soggy cotton batting drains out of my head, because it contains lots of practical mind medicine for dealing with the struggle of getting words out of the brain and onto the page. For example, Station KFKD or K-Fucked (pages 116-117):
If you are not careful, station KFKD will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo. Out of the right speaker in your inner ear will come the endless stream of self-aggrandizement, the recitation of one's specialness, of how much more open and gifted and brilliant and knowing and misunderstood and humble one is. Out of the left speaker will be the rap songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn't do well, of all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime, the doubt, the assertion that everything one touches turns to shit, that one doesn't do relationships well, that one is in every way a fraud, incapable of selfless love, that one has no talent or insight, and on and on and on. You might as well have heavy-metal music piped in through headphones while you're trying to get your work done. You have to get things quiet in your head so you can hear your characters and let them guide your story.
Given the self-celebration that so much hip-hop involves, Lamott was letting her generation show in that dig at "the rap songs of self-loathing." And there was a time, in my yout', when I could have written anything except maybe poems while listening to Led Zeppelin through headphones. Her basic point -- you have to get things quiet in your head -- is sound enough, but Bach would be as much a distraction for that requirement.

So anyway. I feel a little better already.