Notes From the Upwrite

These days, I do as much of my writing as possible in coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. Aside from the imagined thrills I allow myself at the prospect of the shy indy girl with pink-streaked hair(1) glancing over and noting with mild sexual arousal that I'm scribbling furiously towards the deeper understanding of some fine point of either the culture at large or my own tortured brain, there's also the unavoidable and very practically binding truth that I have no office space in my home - nary a desk, nook, or even a chair. When one is not in possession of a special space whose existence is dedicated solely to the task of accomplishing a specific nature of work - especially when the entire hope of accomplishing said work has been tied directly to the promise of its assumed ease once said space is commissioned - one finds even more reasons than ever before to assure one's own self-mandated failure. There also exists in the home space many distractions, from the presence of the entirety of one's earthly possessions (any number of which could offer a gratification more quickly and less arduously attained than the satisfactory completion of a work of artistic and/or communicative merit) to the individual cracks in one's walls and the continual preemptive evacuation of one's bladder.

All of which is a very fancy way(2) of saying that it's very easy to find reasons not to write. At times, I find the most elaborate expressions of my imaginative capacity within these Rube Goldberg-ian excuses. The true masterpiece of such a mindset is the accomplishment of that feat of not writing while engaged in the act of writing.

Mine took the form of writing in bed.

I read once that Woody Allen would sometimes do this, which is to more specifically say that I once read an interview with Woody Allen in which he made some offhand comment about writing in bed. Ignoring the rest of that sentence, which contextualized this act within the broader point that a true writer can write successfully under any circumstances and without any set ritual, medium, or location (a dictum that would have been very useful to me vis a vis the predicament elucidated above, had I bothered to see the forest around this particular supine tree), I took this to mean that perhaps if I were to try working while snug under the covers then I could latch onto some of his genius - because surely he drew it from within the fibers of his sheets (3) - with my next step being to assume the mantle of the greatest and most prolific screenwriter of our time.

But it didn't quite happen that way.

It started as a reason to put off the work for as long as possible. "I won't really be able to produce anything of quality until I'm lying in bed and I can really focus on it. Just like Woody Allen does." It gradually began to take a more metaphorical tint, whereby I was only attacking my thoughts and ideas in the most superficial manner; the more horizontal my position became, the more lateral and listless the movement of my stories from scene to scene, of my sentences from word to word until finally I found myself lying straight down in bed looking up at a series of letters whose antecedents I couldn't remember mere minutes after I had etched them into eternity.

And I started a lot of potential blog posts that I left unfinished.

I was backing further and further away from the charge I had set before myself - physically, emotionally, intellectually. If the words are flowing out of you at a rate at which you cannot control them and if the prostrate scribbling is the manifestation of late-arriving ideas or epiphanies, or if the result of the brain's pre-slumberous loosening up and winding down happens to be the discovery of a new angle or perspective on something already wrestled with, then you're doing it right. I, on the other hand, was using the bed-time dash to throw words on paper as a way of justifying my cunctation - as long as I produced something before the day was up, I was doing okay and had no reason to push myself any further. (4)

So I moved out of bed. Gabriel Garcia Marquez used to say that if inspiration were to ever strike, he would want it to find him working. I wish to share nothing with the world that is merely half-considered, a flavorless piece of gristle listlessly chewed over and then spit into a napkin. I moved out into the world, to commune with the very souls I was hoping to encapsulate and speak to through my work, to filter their behaviors and experiences through my own struggles rather than to project mine onto them from the cloistered security of my bedroom (5). And, if you'll forgive the self-referentialism, that's where the title of this blog hopefully comes into play. Rather than being an admittedly feeble pun, and the only appellation I could think of after a long period of deliberation (I'm absolutely retched with titles, as you'll soon come to know), it is a mandate to myself to attack everything here presented with a creative, intellectual, and emotional ferocity that cannot be mustered by lying in bed(6). If this is being to sound like a treacly manifesto, then it's because I've been playing it too safe up to now and have never put anything on the line to this degree for fear of that very perception.

And it will prove especially difficult to communicate my particular ideas if I take any serious steps to avoid looking like an idiot.

- cs

(1) The word "shy" in this instance can be understood to mean "a complete and utter disinterest in the sad-looking man whose neediness and desperation for attention naturally prevents me from granting him any acknowledgment whatsoever."

(2) This manner of florid diction perhaps being another potential method for use in avoiding the production of anything worthwhile, ie a succinct point.

(3) I made no inquiries into what brand of magical sheets he did indeed lie upon, which is perhaps where I ultimately failed.

(4) This is the argument made by a little man who lives inside all writers. He's very charming and persuasive, but also a complete knob-end, and the last thing you ever want is to do him any favors.

(5) One of the great paradoxes of writing is the fact the writer aims to transcend the innate loneliness of the human condition, our complete inability to truly free ourselves from our own heads, by locking herself alone in a room for hours at a time with nothing to keep her company except her own thoughts. Even when she is writing in public, there is a necessary separation from the world around her that needs to be maintained in order to buffer herself from distraction.

(6) Unless you're doing that one thing (7), but I don't know you well enough to talk about that. And in any case, my usage of "lying in bed" here is really more in the limpid, depressive sense of the term, ie the man who lies in bed all day listening to the trains pass by his window and thinks of all of the places they're apt to go but never jumps on one and goes himself because every time he takes a step out of his room he feels parts of his body jiggle in ways that make him debilitatingly self-conscious, or he finds one more excommunicated hair at the bottom of the sink, or he sees a framed poster leaning against his wall that after living in his house for nearly a year he still hasn't gotten around to hanging up because he can't quite commit to the right spot on the wall and anyway if he chooses the wrong one, then whatever human being he's able to somehow trick into coming home with him, no matter how drunk, is going to take enough note of the error to nullify any potential promise of sexual or emotional gratification. Or something along those lines.

(7) Fucking.

Special thanks to Diego Bruno for supplying the title to this piece, and my sincerest apologies that I couldn't figure out how to get his name to appear one font size larger.