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Critical Hits

Writing About Not Wanting to Write About Writing

by Dave Smith
May 06,2004


Writing About Not Wanting to Write About Writing,

or, What Happens When You Just Want A Cold Beer

I've reached the conclusion that I don't like writing a column about writing. I'm too lazy, inexperienced, and, well, boring to sit here and rattle on about a book that isn't even published. I have no real advice to give about writing; everyone who wants to write, and do it seriously, knows that you simply sit down and do it. I can't slip in any tricks of the trade, because my own experience with the trade is minimal; Axis Mundi Sum got published with virtually no effort on my part, so I can't pass along any secrets about getting agents or making your manuscript jump out of the slush pile and nail some bitter, underpaid publishing intern in the face. Man, getting a book published by a sizeable outfit is like getting someone to produce that screenplay you wrote last year: enervating, frustrating, time-consuming, and hard as holy hell. If this surprises anyone, well... I don't know. I can't imagine this being news to anyone over the age of 15 who's even remotely interested in getting a creative work exposed to the public and making a few bucks from it.

So, now that I've bitched about not wanting to write about writing and therefore done exactly that in the process, I'll turn my attention to other things, namely the oxygen-sapping ways that I spend my time when not writing. Said time qualifies as virtually my entire week, especially now since I'm not actively working on anything in particular. I consign two-thirds of my day with sleep and work, only one of which I like, and the rest of the time I generally loaf, drink beer, listen to records, hang out with my buddies, read, game (on occasion), smoke cigarettes, drive around, or think about what the hell I'm doing with my life. I haven't coughed up any good answers, but I have coughed up some particularly vile accumulations of phlegm.

I wish I could be one of those writers who lives to write. In some way, I am; if I didn't write, I'd go completely insane and hate myself for being one of those people who does absolutely nothing creative at all during their lifetime. That said, I don't live to write in the sense that I'm constantly beating on the keyboard or scribbling in the ever-so-fancy Moleskine notebook I tote around in my back pocket. Writers who do that strike me as a)possessed, b) stupid, or c) pretentious. If they're possessed, they end up like, say, Philip K. Dick, or the legendary version of Jack Kerouac, cranking out reams at breakneck pace. If they're stupid, it's because they're acting like machines and probably producing vast amounts of drivel; writing all the time isn't worth it unless you're good at writing, and even then, working that hard will drain you dry and you'll wind up in a coffin at the age of 40. Finally, the pretentious ones: the ones who stop all the time to write things down, or bring their laptop to a coffee shop to write, making sure in either case that someone else sees them doing it. Inevitably I make some notes at times, but for the love of God and art, I do my best to not a spectacle out of it. Even I did, it wouldn't attract anyone's serious attention, because nobody cares about what someone else is writing. Being a writer's never gotten me a date, though I did trade a belt of Scotch for a copy of Axis Mundi Sum once.

However, I am not a writing-is-life kinda dude. There's too much other stuff to do out there besides write, but that's half the charm of writing- doing stuff and then writing about it. Problem is, I don't really do much, and what I do usually isn't worth writing about, hence my not being very prolific. I realized a while back that I'm not cut out to write nifty articles or essays or columns for role-playing sites, because I have few shining insights into my fellow man, and what clever things I do have to say I'd like to keep for my novels.

I started this column in a bad mood, brought on by being at work and realizing the absurdity of writing a column about writing. I will now end it by making some sort of half-assed apology for not gracing everyone with the keep-on-truckin' mediocrity I am wont to spew. You may all go back to playing Everquest or D&D, and I will go have a cigarette and count the minutes until I can go home, have a drink, and do something that I may or might not write about at a later date. Let's face it- as much as I complain about not having anything to write about, there's always something worth a few words.

Take it easy, folks.

Dave Smith
writer, idler, and occasional wielder of the Curmudgeon's Bludgeon +5
dave at axismundisum dot com

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