Saturday, September 18, 2010

Clowning Around

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era: I was meant for a time when words were chiseled in stone.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, blogging does not come naturally to me.  Despite my mantra of quantity over quality, my neurotic tendency toward perfectionism tends to keep me from posting early and often, and when I do blog, the two or so hours following the new piece's first appearance on the site are usually filled with partial rereadings and the micro-panics they induce (Jesus Christ, I used the same verb in two sentences!  What is up with all these dashes, this shit reads like Morse code!).  The sentences I write haunt me, replay in my head, like the weird pronouncements of a schizophrenic's dog.  I need to get them right, or they'll never leave me alone.  In a discussion about his novel Motherless Brooklyn, which features a narrator with Tourettes, Jonathan Lethem once described his revision process as itself Tourettic, a "compulsive grooming" of language, and while my results are nowhere near as well-coiffed as his, I have to say the description resonates with me. 

It will probably not surprise many of my readers to learn that I'm working on a novel -- or, perhaps more accurately, that I am working on working on a novel.  This is not my first book.  I wrote a novel before when I was in graduate school: a bildungsroman, unsurprisingly, about a naive clown who can only understand his life and the people around him through the zany antics of his art.  I wish I could say that the book was universally reviled, but even that wouldn't be accurate.  Imagine if, at the end of the Lord of the Rings series, after all their trials and adventures, Frodo & Co. threw the magic jewelry into the Cracks of Doom, only to receive no reaction whatsoever.  Imagine now that instead of a hobbit, he's a pretentious Manhattanite in velvet overalls and pirate boots and that the ring is an MFA thesis.  Now you're beginning to understand my pain.

 The tears of a clown.

Probably because I've been burned before by the molten lava of rejection, I am writing my new novel even more slowly than I write my posts for this blog.  And it's nearly impossible for me to work on both simultaneously.  Which I find incredibly frustrating, because I need both outlets, both forms of communication.  For periods of time in the past, I've abandoned the novel, but going without writing fiction makes me feel trapped, claustrophobic in the narrow confines of reality.  Yet since I started blogging, responding to books and film and ideas in writing has become essential for me too -- it's as though I don't know precisely what I think until I work it out in prose.

I promised last month that I was going to try to write more on here -- that, like the pencil sculptor, I would adopt the credo, "This will break eventually but let's see how far I get."  Then I disappeared from the blog for nearly three weeks, a fact probably unnoticed by most everyone but me, but which I regard as a personal failing nonetheless.  So here's what I'm going to do: starting today, I am going to blog something every day for one week.  Some of the posts will be stupid.  Most of them will be short.  But all of them will be available online, for your perusal and entertainment.

No comments: