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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On the Nature of Writing 

Yesterday I finished one of the final chapters of my novel. As many of you know, I've been working on this damned thing for almost five years now, and I keep insisting that this summer is the summer I'll finally finish the first draft. (Well, I've got three chapters left; five sections in each chapter -- I've been doing one section per day or so, while also learning how to speak lian Tetum -- I might be able to finish before we leave for Timor on the 19th, but I doubt it.)

So as always when I'm ensconced in this sort of prolonged literary mode, I've had ebbs and flows in my productivity. Yesterday was a total flow -- I turned out four pages in a mad rush (at Taco Bell, no less). And I began to think (as always) about why this happens, how I can hone in on those good days and make them more frequent.

And I suddenly realized that I've always seen (and lived) writing as a form of production, when in fact it often is not.

The section I wrote yesterday was a series of events -- and a series of conversations. And all I did was tell those events and discussions to someone. No one really considers a conversation to be production (and rightly so, I think) -- so while the act of writing words on a page is obviously producing something, it seems wrong to conceptualize it as an actual act of production.

For me, this is liberatory -- the more writing is a chore, the less willing I am to do it. And in some ways there seems to be a trend toward seeing everything as production; wasn't there something published recently whereby some governmental entity tried to classify the making of hamburgers as a form of production? Tom Tomorrow once wrote about a bill in the California legislature that would have assigned cartoonists as commercial manufacturers (for tax purposes). I suppose in some philosophical ways, I'm loath to see writing as an act of production.

And yet it's always been thus with me. I've always viewed my work in terms of output -- how many chapters have I done? How many stories can I claim? How many copies have been printed? Is it thick enough? (I remember once bragging to my dad about the huge book I had just read -- his reply has always stuck with me: "I look forward to the day when you tell me all about the great book you read and never once mention how many pages it has.")

I suppose this conception is one reason when I haven't posted much lately -- in the swarm of other productions I've got going (new album coming soon, really, I promise), this outlet takes a back burner. That, and the video games.

I'm curious to know what other bloggers (and anyone who writes on a regular basis, really) thinks..

30 Days

I've been pretty intrigued by the new show 30 Days, created by that Super Size Me guy, Morgan Spurlock. The first episode (where he and his ladyfriend Alex lived on near-minimum wage for a month) was the kind of authentic, real-life TV we haven't seen since TV Nation (Awful Truth wasn't nearly as good). And while the other episodes so far have been much closer to the non-real "reality TV" format (Christian guy living with a bunch of Muslims; orthodox heterosexual living in SF's Castro neighborhood), they have some good info, and it's a fundamentally sound concept.

My main beef at this point (aside from the fact that he's a moron for not using Run-DMC as the theme song) is that the shows seem to be developing a sadly pedestrian pattern: Closed-minded Ugly American moves in with "other" community; has life-changing experiences while constantly talking about how uncomfortable they are; everyone learns from each other; professes same to camera. I just hope they move into some more uncommon waters before long.

The thing I like best about the show is that it features calm, rational people having (mostly) intelligent discussions about the personal dimensions on major issues (Islamic identity; Christianity's take on homosexuality; etc). It's rare that we have a show where people just talk about stuff -- even the "news" shows have become unholy wars of vitriol. So even when the sides are so acutely drawn and I can more or less predict what everyone's going to say, it's nice to see folks just talking. (I was pretty impressed with the lesbian pastor at the church in SF.)

Okay, I need to eat something. Ate amanya!


Dangit! They stole my idea! (Actually, someone on Newgrounds did it before me.) Anyway, be sure to check out the "Wreck My Car" section at least -- it's superb (and the others are varying shades of decent).

Today I'm listening to: All Natural!