I think about a million different things to write about every day. My dog’s latest piano composition, the lady smoking cigarettes, pushing a cart while trudging down Quarrier Street, the guy who comes to our back door regularly looking for a few bucks so he can pick up his thorazine (i’m not kidding). While toiling away at my desk, using my best creative energy to write copy for work, I dream about the real writing I could be doing.
Then I sit at my desk at home and can’t think of a bloody thing. Part of it is that I want every word that flows from from my fingers pecking at little black keys to be perfect. Which I know is impossible – and yet, the voice says: “if you were really good, and talented, you wouldn’t have to try so damn hard.”
This is a great falsehood and I know it, but I still trap myself in the prison of perfection. And, so what happens? Nothing. I don’t write for fun or pleasure. I don’t take the time to just let the words come without judging myself.
Too many adverbs
Too many words nobody understands
Not good enough
The litany is endless.
I’ll never forget the first time I picked up a trombone. The slide made it different right away. I loved the fact that I had twist my torso at the right shoulder so I could extend the slide all the way out. “That’s too big for you,” the music teacher said. I was in 5th grade. I’ve played the trombone now for nearly thirty years – nothing motivates me more than being told that I can’t do something.
But to get pretty good at it, I spent hours practicing scales and etudes. I didn’t date in college much, because I had to practice. I also listened to any kind of music I could find, and heard it as an extension of music history class. I loved thinking about how Bach and Joy Division sounded alike (It’s called the chaconne or ciaconna). Safe to say I became quite the music nerd and it’s never really left me.
Years ago, I sat in a radio production booth and dreamed about a show that featured interview segments and performances with local musicians. The joy that came with producing that show also came with plenty of hiccups. I taught myself how to use audio editing software, buttoning sound snippets together in front of a grey monitor display until my wrist and shoulder ached.
My production has actually improved from listening to great stuff – and that’s true today more than ever. I’ve written over on my tumblr blog about one such show, Welcome to Nightvale.
Hmmm…I think there’s a theme developing here. I have to practice. E.B. White said once that “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”
It’s time for some faith.