Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Secret

The Conversation would usually go something like this:

"So what do you do?"
"I write commercials - at a radio station."
"Oh!  Well, that must be... interesting!"

Or "creative."  "Challenging."  Or "fun."  At that point I'd habitually demur, noting that it was a tremendously stimulating environment to work in.  The "work" itself doesn't necessarily engender inspired repartee.  Writing is, to my mind, somewhat like singing.  Most anyone can do these things a little, or even a lot.  But - can you write all the time?  Perhaps that could drive one crazy, and maybe I am.

I never truly intended to become a writer.  I had other nebulous designs on an advertising career, but my writing seemed to produce the most appealing and immediate results... which naturally made it the easiest way to enter the business.  Only recently have I become fully aware that I do it... all the time.

I have, by nature and somewhat regrettably, a solitary mind.  I'm far too comfortable alone.  For example, I became a relative insomniac in part because I am rather cozy within the idyll of uninterrupted night.  Even when living with my ex, I could be awoken by her snoring at 2 AM, then spend an hour or two puttering contentedly around the apartment... and I still today relish time on my own after my son goes to bed.  I usually don't sleep till long after midnight.  But that's not because things are quiet; it's never quiet.  No matter what I'm doing, unless I'm directly speaking with someone, up in the workshop I'm constantly forming phrases.  Compiling notes.  Charting fragments of ongoing narratives.  No, I don't hear voices... there's no man behind the curtain, or invisible six foot rabbit.  But my mind honestly never stops composing... something.

Thankfully, it's internal.  I think the most outrageous description I've ever heard said of me is that I'm the "quiet" one.  God no, there's a maelstrom going on in here.  I can't let anyone hear all of it; the men with the hypodermics will come running.  "I" am a heavily edited version of me.  And thus, a career of writing for someone else's purposes came rather naturally.  I have this going on already, all you have to do is tell me what you'd like it done for.  The machine is churning anyway, just throw your stuff in and see how it comes out.

Now once you've started, you develop and nurture actual writing skill, of course.  When you give yourself to it, you learn to love it, and to respect it and the conventions of language.  You discover the endorphin release of creative flow.  That's the fun of it, making the notes dance around each other, just like playing music.  You develop your riffs and your voice, and you learn to see those things in the writing of others.  And when you can get together with others who write you eventually get those shop talk moments; someone will start in on pet peeves like misused words or meaningless conventional phrases.  That's how you know you're not the only one imagining this stuff.

But I can't say that this is "how one writes."  Or claim that anyone else who writes may do this too.  Or even claim that anyone else may do it.  I've often wished I knew what it was like to be one of those who lives without inner counsel... free to live a visceral, more animal existence, without trial, angst, or doubt.

No, this is how it works for me.  It rarely stops.  So if you've ever wondered where it comes from, that's it.  Eventually something coalesces, like this navel-gazing rumination on the sound of silence that hopefully doesn't make you think I'm insane.  It's not always challenging or fun, but I guess it might be interesting.

I'm writing.  Even if it's about nothing.

And for the moment, I'm done now.

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