“…You are battling away trying to finish, or at least start, a book you promised to deliver seven months ago…”
-Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
My writing process as of late has contained shades of Barton Fink. I’ve been working on a book for some time now, and I’m so close to the end that I’m now sleeping with a bottle of victory wine on my nightstand. In my procrastination, though, I’ll be done in time for that wine to be officially declared a vintage by the Winey Association or whoever makes the official wine vintage declarations. A lot of my current writing practices are a lot more centered around me, sitting on my computer, not actually writing.
I’ve gotten so bad that even as I sit here, I’m writing a blog post about how much it sucks that I can’t get my thoughts organized in such a way that I’m able to go and write for three hours at a time, with nothing but a blank page staring at me from the glowing screen. My two pecker fingers do want to perform their ritualistic dance across the keyboard; they just don’t want to perform the moves I’ve choreographed for them. So instead, I’m sitting here on a grungy Saturday – perfect for getting some damned work on the book done – with the addictive website TV Tropes on my internet screen. Later, since this is Saturday, there might be a college football game I’m interested in watching. Yes, there’s definitely something better I should be doing instead of watching college football, but I’m stuck because there’s no NHL this year.
Okay, that last statement is a little extreme. Staying in good shape is important to me, so I’ll also be going on a mile run if the rain lets up enough.
The frustrating part is that my constant episodes of Writer’s Block all seem to have passed for the whole rest of the project. I’ve been working on it for close to two years, with Writer’s Block, constant breaks and interruptions which lasted for weeks sometimes. I’m finally working on this thing every day, come hell or highwater, and after starting with only a few vague conceptions in my head, I know exactly where it’s going and what I’m going to do with it. I have a very clear point where I’m going to end it, and it’s so close that I might be able to get there by the end of the year. I could probably burn through a chapter every few days, but…. Hey, does anyone happen to know what happened to that remake of Thundercats? They were taking that in an interesting direction…. Damn you Netflix!
In my time on any given day, I can randomly wonder where all the red-winged blackbirds went, stare at the blue jay family living in the backyard, watch the previous night’s rerun of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and try to remember when my library materials are due. If I have time after all that difficult hands-on thinking, I might write a blog post or two and update my Facebook status, which I occasionally do with posts similar to this one. Writing the damn book during my computer time just never comes across as a top priority, especially if some idiot on my feed is praising Tim Tebow’s talents as a “quarterback.”
The titular character in Barton Fink eventually reaches his moment of enlightenment. After spending days in a hotel room, creating his own distractions and excuses to not write, he manages to plonk himself in front of his typewriter and pound out what he believes to be the most important thing he’s ever written. His studio contractors, though, had a much different idea in mind from what Barton came up with. They wanted him to write a wrestling picture. Barton technically did that, but the suits wanted a picture about literal wrestling, not the allegorical wrestling Barton eventually came up with in his burst of inspiration. I haven’t reached that little moment yet, but when I (hopefully) do, I’m at least not under contract for a specific subject. Maybe I can pull a Hunter S. Thompson, who was dispatched to write about a motorcycle race in a Rolling Stone article. Thompson quickly realized how impractical it was to cover a motorcycle race, and the article he wrote eventually turned into Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
One can dream. When I finish this sucker, I have every intention of trying to get it published, but my ultimate triumph will be merely finishing it. It won’t be much longer now. I have only a few more chapters to write, so it should all be wrapped up in about 2017 or so. Now if you’ll excuse me, these television tropes aren’t going to read themselves.