Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year, folks.

After completing my 50,000 word goal in November, I have done exactly nil, zero, zilch. A couple of days ago, the same writing group member who suggested the Nanowrimo thing sent me this link.

The idea here is to set a word count goal for the year, and chip away at it.

I have just never been good at sitting myself down and working on anything without a deadline. Even as a kid in Jr. High School and earlier, I always waited until the night before something was due to get to work on it. That continued throughout high school, and college.

Since I got past the deadlines of November, I haven't done a thing. I signed up for this annual word count thing yesterday. I got the feeling that 90% of the participants are 22 or younger, so that will likely be no camaraderie, except that within my own little group, but still, I hope it helps me at least sit down more consistently and write.

When I finish this post, I think I will sit down and try to jot down a short story, just for the heck of it. I have no idea of what I will write, but it doesn't matter. Then there is the unfinished "Allergic to Life" which has been half in my head, and half on paper for almost 10 years. I am still not sure what that is, what form it should really take. I guess the scary thing is that if I sat down, it would be something, then I would have to judge it. There is a certain safety in never finishing anything. If it isn;t finished, it can;t have failed, it can't have come up short, or missed the mark.

Every time I watch one of my favorite shows or movies, I am grateful that its author followed through, took a risk, poured in the effort and dedication it took to get it written, produced, finished, and at the same time, I feel a slight pang of guilt at having given myself a pass so often and for so long.

It is a bizarre phenomenon, this combination of ego and fear, morphing into laziness and lack of inertia for fear of actually arriving at an unsatisfactory destination.

Who can forget; "Porky's", “The Last American Virgin”, "Sixteen Candles", “The Karate Kid”, "The Breakfast Club", “Back To The Future”, "Pretty In Pink", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Can't Buy Me Love" and “Say Anything”. Boy, do I miss those days.

For every "This is Spinal Tap", "Napolean Dynamite", "Mean Girls" or "Office Space", there are twenty like Babylon A.D. or the latest Mike Myers or Vince Vaughn vehicles. The most baffling thing is films wtih a good premise, like this year's "Four Christmases" wind up saddled with hackneyed jokes you've seen a hundred times before, or a script so inexplicably bad you leave the theater shaking your head, wondering why, in a town of literally thousands of screen writers, the travesty you've just witnessed was allowed to happen.

All I need to see of Jim Carrey's "new" flick, "The Yes Man" is the trailer to realize it is merely a reworking of "Liar, Liar". He even reproduces old stunts like the tape on his face, and various physical gags we've seen before.

When I see something like "The Big Lebowski" or lately, "The Wrestler", or when I see something that sucks, like most of the one-joke crap coming out of Hollywood (take "The Guru", for example.) I sense irritation, followed by a tinge of guilt, for not at least trying to do anything about it. Even when I listen to a great cd or see a kickass band live, for example, a rocker I have known for about a decade who fronts a band called "The Peasants", I sometimes feel lazy, like a non-producer.

The Peasants never made a million dollars. They never became famous and got plastered all over magazine covers and teen TV specials. All they've done for the last nearly twenty years is play kick ass music for the love of rock and roll. These guys are one of my 4 or 5 favorite bands of all time. Pete loves rock and roll, he respects it. He's mastered the craft, and that's all he ever really wanted to do. He still plays in bars and n Harvard Square because he loves it, and I am grateful that he does.

When I reap the benefit of someone's else's creative effort, I feel grateful, lucky even, and at the same time, I feel like a taker. I believe we all have innate, God-given talents, and it is a shame not to use them. Where we be if Tom Brady had given up asa skinny high school kid who had no college offers? What if Dustin Pedroia agreed with 99% of those who scouted him and rfegarded him as too small to play ball at a higher level. What kind of loss would it be if Barack said, "shit, I'm black, I'm never going to get elected" or if Bill Wilson (founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) said, "I'm better now, screw the next guy. I'm going on vacation."

This kind of thinking brings me to a point of self-centerednessand ego for which there is no good line of thought. All thoughts seemed to circle a drain of negativity, and wind up there somehow.

My head says something like, "Who do you think you are? Einstein? The chick who wrote "Slapshot"? (yes, a woman wrote that guy classic, based on her brother's experienced playing minor league hockey.) My ego, so afraid that whatever it is I perform, write or produce won't be good enough, tells me I am a tool for thinking I have some special talent with which to work.

On the other hand, believing one has no talent, is to make oneself special in another way.

I guess the key is the self-centeredness. as long as I let it call the shots and draw the attention, the results will always be the same, and contentment around this stuff will continue to elude me. As long as I think it is about me, I will likely fail to produce anything of which I can be proud.

Bill Wilson, Pete from the Peasants, Bogie, Jimi Hendrix, Harper Lee and the rest of those who have given so much to this world, they were all merely vehicles. They showed up and let the creative Power flow through them into the world. It came in the form of punk rock, movies and books. It came in the form of paintings, symphonies and humanitarian efforts, but the key was likely that people were doing what they loved, and through hard work, enthusiasm and..., well love, masterpieces were created.

I always think too much, and create a catch-22. Either my head says I am a slug for not using my own talents to create, or my head says I am an egomaniac for thinking I have any talent from which the world would benefit. As you can see, that is a dilemma, there is no good option there.

Perhaps the key is to stop listening to my head and take simple, constructive action. That formula worked pretty well for me once upon a time.


Blogger GB said...

I sympathize completely. Good luck with it all. My goal is for next Jan.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Korte said...

Thanks buddy.

9:20 PM  

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