Monday, October 13, 2008

Trouble

A part of you, the part that attempts to manage and direct things to give you the best shot at plying and enhancing your craft, has gone to great lengths to keep you busy, jealous of your time away from your work. This managerial aspect of you knows that the busy person has the best chance of getting things done; it also understands that leisure time is an enemy in which your thought processes engage in that dialectic between supreme confidence and equally supreme self-doubt. The effect of such dialectic is often the kidnapping or neglect of writing time, all because of The Trouble.

You know you are in Trouble if:

1. someone else's Moleskine, for whatever reason, looks more interesting than yours.

2. you discover that a casual acquaintance, not even a writer, is not only a fan of "The Wire," but has noticed in it an entire dimension you completely missed.

3. an individual you admire, in a quite casual way, pulls the rug from under a book you'd read and thought to be significant.

4. a beginning writer whose work you think shows some promise is approached by a publication you've been trying to get into for some time and is extended an assignment.

5. a complete stranger approaches you, begins talking about your unique approach to writing, then begins to make references which convince you the stranger has confused you with a writer whose work elicits no sympathy or empathy in you.

6. an accomplished writer recalls a remark you made at a party where you may have had too much or too little wine, then attributes that remark as the inertia for a new venture which you deplore.

7. someone asks you to give advice to a friend or relative who is as embarrassed as you are by the transaction.

8. someone of still-emerging talent is significantly successful in the execution of an idea or concept you'd bailed on for lack of interest.

9. someone in the investment or financial sector wants to help you provide a greater sense of security for you so that you can take even greater risks in your work.

10. a stranger or casual acquaintance tells you he or she has quit a secure career path to follow your example.

These are all scenarios that cause you to wax and wane, to argue in debates where you may have little or no standing, which is to say, these and other similar situations cause you to indulge the kind of thinking where there is no tangible product or plan. You are alternately fluffing a pillow and wondering if there are enough feathers in the pillow to make it worth fluffing in the first place.

There is some satisfaction in the notion of a possible scenario about supposition # 1 supra. Suppose, you posit, you were to arrange a one- or two-week swap of your Moleskine for that of a local friend or a blog friend. What inspirations would you glean from the laundry lists, complaints, and observations of another? What glorious satellites would you induce in orbit about you? What great values of industry and organization would you inherit?

Ah, you have reached the point in life where ideas do not need a seventeen mile linear accelerator to cause them to smash into one another, therein to produce the subatomic particles of story. You have learned not to think until it is time to undertake revision, that lovely conflation of the Twelve-step Program with editorial pragmatism. A fierce moral inventory.

You can almost see the personal ad in The New York Review of Books or The London Times Literary Supplement. Calif. writer ISO interesting, note-taking writer with Moleskine at least half-filled, for long or short term swap.

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