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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Bloggers Gonna Blog

As part of my 'return to reading' I just finished my wife's favorite book, "I Know This Much is True".  It was good.  It's not the kind of book I'd ordinarily read because a lot of it is sad and I honestly just feel like I can do without all the sadness in my 'entertainments'.  It's a drama.  But it was really thoughtful, and well written, and researched, and it made me think, which is key.

I had just finished IKTMIT and moved on to, "Manhood for Amateurs", which Angie's sister and brother-in-law (I think it was them, Angie?  Wasn't it?) gave me for Christmas.  It's by one of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon.  It's a series of essays, which is ALSO not something I typically read (Honestly, it's basically a book of blogs if we're being honest.  And I'm not sure you could go TOO wrong reading a blog written by Michael Chabon.  ANYWAY...), but straight out of the gate, his essay on - what?  Art?  Taking chances? - struck a chord.  It was called "Loser's Club". 

In the context of a story from his childhood where he attempted to create a comicbook fanclub (and failed), he writes about the process of creating art, and it resonated with me.  He said, "Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake...an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing."  "Art, like fandom, asserts the possibility of fellowship in a world built entirely from materials of solitude."  He talks a bit about this failed fan club as a model for every book he writes.  "My story and my stories are all, in one way or another, the same, tales of solitude and the grand pursuit of connection, of success and the inevitability of defeat."

And boy, does that seem like blogging.  At least for me.  Whether I'm reaching out to fellow autism parents, writers, friends, family, or my kids...or maybe I'm reaching for memories or trying to capture a feeling for myself...blogging is looking for connection the way he describes making art as the pursuit of connection.  And with blogging, perhaps a much more direct and tangible result like interaction with like-minded people, and social media conversation.

And all this 'inevitability of defeat' stuff is a bit of a downer, except, EXCEPT, this is the Pulitzer Prize winner.  And it's kind of nice to know that even when you've written...however many novels he's written, and even when you've won...whatever awards he's won...you still question yourself and worry about failure.  And maybe for someone like me (or others who might read this) you shouldn't worry so much about the failure, because EVERYONE worries about failure, and instead just reach out for that secret handshake and search for a fellowship of readers in the solitude of writing.  I think that's what all bloggers do, or are doing...looking for people 'in their shoes' to read their words, acknowledge their own similar/same experiences, and take what was a work of solitude and turn it into a shared experience.

I hope that made sense. 

Meanwhile...or...actually "later":  I was 'reading' "Sharp Ends", which is a series of short stories (another nuther thing I usually don't read) by Joe Abercrombie.  I put reading in quotes because it's an audiobook.  I love Abercrombie's books.  At the end of Sharp Ends there's a ten minute interview with the narrator and Abercrombie, and they discuss "muse".  Abercrombie is asked how he approaches writing.  Does he wait for the muse to strike, or sit and write from 10 - 2, or other?  And Abercrombie said something that I thought was smart.  He said if he waited for the muse he'd never write.  He said that real writing, is writing in SPITE of your muse (or lack thereof), the hardwork of writing something even though you don't really feel inspired to do so. 

I think I've always known that, but again, it's nice to hear an established author talk about not really being particularly inspired, but writing through it anyway, because...it's what he does for a living.  He went on to say that he sometimes IS inspired and sometimes DOES get a great idea he wants to commit to the page, but that his writing is not and can not be dependent upon that.  It's too inconstant. 

That, to a certain extent, is advice I need to apply directly to myself.  I mean, I don't ever really want to feel like writing is a slog, or writing isn't enjoyable.  But maybe abandoning writing entirely because you're at a particularly uninspired place and waiting for ideas to come to you is the wrong approach.  And maybe getting into the habit of writing...on good days, on bad days, so that overall you've enjoyed the process even if a few times you felt like what you produced was complete dogshit, is the right way to do it, if you want to DO it. 

I often pay lip service to the idea that I want to write, but also struggle from time to time making the effort to do so.

Anyway.  I've wanted to write.  And to read.  And so this is some stuff that I read and it made me want to write about it.  Win-win!

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