Friday, August 3, 2012

The Boring Writer Bores in


Your evening walk is in its way structured the way a short story should be structured.  You have a route in mind that will leave you at a point where you can’t get home without having extended yourself.  

Your route is more or less planned to take you through a varied range of residential, office and service, a few blocks along the main drag, and some potentials near parks for wandering off on adventurous side trips.

Times when your walking routes begin boring you because of their predictability become dangerous times in the sense that boring walks are nothing to look forward to, thus the temptation to look beyond them by developing perfervid interest in something else at about the time you’d be setting forth.

Boring stories or essays transmit the same kind of negative vibration.  If the project seems to be a novel, a boring or predictable scene, with no room for mischief or improvisation, becomes an excuse to work on something more anarchistic or at least more interesting.

You are surprised how many walks you’ve taken and how many stories you’ve written without having seen the connection between them before now.

Sally’s great predecessor, Molly, would approach you at about two-thirty every afternoon, sometimes socking your leg to get your attention.  Hey, time for a walk.  With few exceptions, these walks produced valuable images related to the spectrum you consider work for a writer.  Often those walks produced tangible images that grew into story.

When you’re walking, you’re variously aware of nature, in the form of trees, plants, weather, time of day, and of course such dogs and cats as you see.  You’re aware of the combination of Craftsman houses, Mediterranean colors, stucco, stone, brick, and adobe masonry as well as the riot of bi-cultural signs and merchandise.  Such nature and architecture share the stage with differing types of art, and a significant, eclectic riot of automobiles representing far-away points of origin.

You enjoy being out of your study and into this world, this riotous, summery, California real world, where the political demographic is just a tad more left-leaning than right, where two of the three newspapers are perfervid in their libertarian bias, the other a kind of slick Birkenstock, Mini-Cooper left-leaning affect.  

This is the real world.  You try to siphon portions of it, just as you try to siphon from your undergraduate students and from your filters on high-school age individuals through the Instagram photos of your niece’s daughter, which you believe makes her your grandniece.

The difference between the world you walk through out of your study and the world you create within your study have a few overlaps but you need to remain aware of the difference between them.  Although both are bubbles of a sort, you walk through each of them with a design that will afford you the most interest and engagement possible, with the least ash of boredom, disappointment, and, worse, disapproval.

You have no problem with your disapproval of things so long as that disapproval does not become the driving force behind your attitude as you engage reality (which also includes your reading/learning, your editing, and your teaching) and as you engage the simulacrum of the reality you have created in your writing.

You are not likely to change anyone’s politics, but there is a chance for you to take individuals whose politics you will never change to places they have never been nor never considered.

There is a potential for you to continue your intent of using your walk to push you beyond your capacity.  In similar fashion, you hope to push your storytelling beyond your capacity.  Both will keep off the excess weight that comes from not pushing the physical or literary envelope.  

In the former, the excess weight could find a home nearly anywhere on your torso.  In the latter, the excess weight comes first and foremost in tendentiousness, but then in the form of orotund paragraphs and narrative design.

Taking walks with the deliberate intent of side trips or digressions or short cuts, or enlightened improvisations is no small thing.  Writing story or narrative without risk or mischief or anarchy is no less small.  Both are necessary to your health and your constant state of remaining un-bored.

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