‘I … Am A Writer’

November 5, 2023

(Artwork: Leonid Pasternak‘s ‘The Passion of Creation,’ found here.)

Originative writing is an art form for the mentally disturbed. An actuality proven by history and reality. Yet nowadays there are thousands, literally hundreds of thousands of writers out ‘there‘ (beyond my location, into the murky depths of everywhere, all at once, all the time), which displays our status on how the insane function in the light of writing shit that other people read, maybe even become influenced by, and then spread whatever subject important to the mundane across the wide public of the ignorant to the still-more ignorant– modern life encapsulated in words.
Writing in this clusterfuck era of deadly, dangerous, and deleterious activities is a cruel mystery. Especially if you’re easily captured by the whims of emotion. Astounding the amount of raw, ugly material to draw from in writing on just about anything that’s been cross-bled into current events (exploits that reverberate on way-so-many levels) with today’s agenda bubbling over with horror tales of immensely-varied descriptions. And how to energize when the action-setting rhythm-wind is being constantly sucked out of you?

And sometimes doubly the case if you’re an oldster. I’ll turn 75 at the end of this month, an age number that feels like it has happened seemingly overnight, quickly zooming in from way out in the future to kick hard my ass. Although of course time is collected from decades of living, somehow in the last three/four years the personal-history toll appears to have accelerated the de-acceleration — being old is right now no matter the time.
And I seemed to have lost the energy necessary to write at a daily pace. Doomscrolling has moved from being a particular search to doing nothing more than just following the news cycles — doom is the new normal, built into our right-now fabric of life.
Yeah, ‘Before Times‘ is an apt expression for that ‘right now.’

So for a variety of reasons — from less energy to that good-for-nothing, old-age laziness to the before-mentioned horror of our world situation shitting out bad shit by the half hour — I haven’t posted much in the last couple of weeks and it makes me as a writer feel like shit. Not writing in some form every day is a slap to the psyche. Despite hardly anyone reading the material posted, it’s more of a personal thing than a public one. This blog, even after 16-plus years, is still all about me and my idiot desire to write, to keep me busy no matter the readership. Coupled with an innate vein of journalism, writing for ‘Compatible Creatures‘ is a treat beyond the keyboard. (If you wish, read my blog birthday post from last April here.)
I don’t know if it’s the anxiety, depressed-sad shit from off the wires making me not tapping the keyboard, or maybe a sense of a lethargic, do-nothing attitude keeping the posts at a way-minimum, but there’s a definite cog in the creative system. My current sense comes from a literary history.

In reflection, out of that three-quarters-of-a-century birthday upcoming, I probably have considered myself a writer for maybe around 60 of those years. My first original remembered work was a short story written as a seventh-grader in 1962 using the kids in my neighborhood as the tale’s characters, and with a good friend — and two years older — as the hero, vanishing foes, monsters, or whatever in some kind of warrior/knight mode, and won the day. I can recall nothing else.
And from there life was never the same. Three years later, I started writing poetry (poets the goofiest/head-in-the-clouds crazy of all writer types), and in the eleventh grade let one of my favorite teachers read some my poems, and after doing so, he opinionated I had a “poet’s soul.” (I really, really do remember that). In turn the following year, I was voted ‘Class Poet‘ for my high school senior class in 1967. Life has always carried a literary sensibility, going back a long ways.
Even so, blog writing, for the most part, feels to me as a mostly clipped, low-brow, usually uncreative form of writing — more sometimes (it appears) a system deep in cut-n-paste, but still has a need to formulate a beginning, middle and an end (including art) while trying to compose a hard-charged, descriptive lede for the post. A personally useful, time-consuming, most-wonderous chore.

And time does play a definite part. This particular post you’re reading right now has been in my draft file for well more than a year. I worked on it bit by bit and have left it alone for way most of the time. This a tell-tale mark of many, many writers. We flutter off the path (especially within today’s news context) of a narrative and instead of working to regain the literary momentum, we just push it deeper into the to-do box. However, there are instances when the process works — an excellent example is a post about my fascination/infatuation with movies that became a published piece after nearly four years of on-and-off work (if you like, read it here).

Although a year ago, the point of this post was a bit different, it worked out. Originally, it was the creative pulse that carried the words, while now it’s the shit-hitting-the-fan motif cramping the creative nerves. What lit the fuse to start this post rolling came via a piece in October 2022 by law professor Paul Campos at one of my most-favorite blogs, LawyersGuns&Money, and ironically reenforced my own dumb-ass perception — writers have some type of attention-deficit disorder.
As Campos deliberated:

And of course “writer” can be understood as a shorthand for any profession or avocation whose membership is full of people who are motivated in large part by a desire for attention: artists, actors, and politicians most obviously, but also certain types of scientists, business people, members of the military, lawyers etc. — specifically the types who are motivated more by a desire for celebrity itself than by more prosaic desires.

In a likewise manner, Campos followed a lit fuse created off a 1946 essay by George Orwell, entitled “Why I Write,” in which the noted novelist, essayist, journalist, and author of the frightful nowadays situational projection, “1984,” recollected youthful episodes that propelled him to write and captured his desire to ‘“…engage in literary activities”‘ as he grew up.
In somewhat=likewise fashion as I, Orwell understood himself way-near the beginning:

From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

After some background, Orwell reflects:

I give all this background information because I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject-matter will be determined by the age he lives in ­– at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own – but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape. It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, or in some perverse mood: but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write. Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

He notes sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose the inducements on a writer’s action, and concludes:

Looking back through the last page or two, I see that I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don’t want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist or understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.

As a pertinent aside, there’s a really good, fairly in-depth essay by writer Anna Funder in the Guardian last July on Orwell’s wife, Eileen, who appears to have had a kind of shitty life, forcibly hidden by her husband’s oddball creative weirdness and self-centered habits.
Funder, author of “Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life” (published last August), had to really, really dig deep to seek any recollection of George Orwell’s wife, despite numerous biographies. Although Eileen typed manuscripts and performed other chores to aid Orwell in many endeavors, even helping to escape the terrible conclusion of the Spanish Civil War, she was nearly invisible::
As Funder writes:

In the end, Eileen got them both out of Spain by fronting up to the same police prefecture those men had probably been sent from, to get the visas they needed to leave. One biographer eliminates her with the passive voice, writing: “By now, thanks to the British consulate, their passports were in order.” In Homage, Orwell mentions “my wife” 37 times but never once names her. No character can come to life without a name. But from a wife, which is a job description, all can be stolen. I wondered what she felt as she typed those pages.

In some cases, living near or around writers can be an asshole chore. Funder’s piece is well worth the read — a quick view of one particular writer’s loony, hurtful antics. I would say (write) that explanation fairly well appears to be an overall analysis/background to the inner workings of any kind of ‘writer,’ covering a shitload of subjects, genres, and a whatnot smorgasbord of usually steaming word-related ventures.

Write for continued creative sake and not for results (what?):

An observation on that stated point close to home. In my mid-teens, I’d already collected a small cardboard box full of short stories, novels, and poems, all unfinished, all in various stages toward some kind of conclusion. However, my reasoning was not from shit being crappy, but more I’d just lost interest quickly in whatever project I was working on at the time — never showing the material to anyone, but just writing maybe as a private matter. Although I kept that same box for quite a while, even into my college years, I’ve no idea what happened to it.
Finishing a thing in my calculation isn’t the sole reason for starting — it’s the actual writing, not the ending.

Case similar in point: My first (and most likely my only) novel was published in March 2022 after being sequestered in another cardboard box for more than 20 years — if you’d like, read my initial post of the event — and for all intents and purposes it was just a matter of timing. Although finished, manuscripts on paper in a digital world will escape being read. The latest of an extended number of pleas to please buy the book can be found here, if you want.

And plus, too, the glory of ego in the actual being:

Even with the laziness of literary pretense, here we are once again…

(Illustration out front: M.C Escher’s ‘Hand with Reflecting Sphere,’ also known as ‘Self-Portrait in Spherical Mirror,’ and found here.)

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