That’s what I said when I received my M.A. No more school. I’d learned enough. More to the point, I’d stayed up for thirty-six hours at a stretch drafting and typing reams of literary criticism too many times. I’d tired of having to take off the weight (peanut butter) that appeared with each paper. The Idylls of the King alone added five pounds.
Six years later, after receiving library certification, I said the same thing. Enough.
Several years ago, I tried posting every day for a year from January 1 but fell out around March. It was fun but exhausting–sometimes Emily Dickinson had to step in for a guest post–and I had no energy to write anything else. I don’t write fast. I revise and edit as I go. (Please don’t bother telling me I shouldn’t.) I suffer; how I suffer.
But last night I saw the word challenge, which is the emotional equivalent of chocolate, and my resistance is low, so I cratered and registered. It’s just one month with weekends off, so perhaps I will last it out. The catch is that WP provides a topic and a twist.
Today’s topic, or goal, is to unlock the mind: free write for twenty minutes. Follow Natalie Goldberg and access the pure thoughts and ideas of your wild mind.
Today’s twist is to post the free write. It doesn’t matter, says WP, if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.
Yes, it does.
I respect Natalie Goldberg, but I’m not about to put my wild mind out for the public to view. I will display irony and self-deprecating humor, keep my tongue lodged in my cheek, and present myself as flippant, superficial, frivolous, shallow, and self-absorbed.* My thoughts, which are seldom pure and never simple, thank you Oscar Wilde, plumb a depth those who read my blog and listen to me talk cannot imagine. And I don’t share.
That’s one reason I’ve cut down on Facebooking: It’s too easy to record what I think.
This free write has gone on for an hour and will go on until the manager of the book store tells me my car is about to be towed for violating the three-hour limit on parking if I don’t make myself stop.
You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen — it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.
– Author Khaled Hosseini, “How to Write,” the Atlantic
Irish Murdoch expressed a similar idea in fewer words: Every novel is the wreck of a perfect idea.
What jumps out at me is this: Most of life is a wreck of a perfect idea. And we publish it anyway.
There: I’ve accessed a pure thought and idea of my wild mind.
Well. It’s been drummed into me that an essay must have a conclusion. The previous paragraph, although an abrupt ending, is close enough. I’ll leave this and work for a while on the *I#%+)(^! rough draft of the novel, which is what I’ve been avoiding for the past three-plus hours.
Thanks, WP, for supporting procrastination.
*I am self-absorbed.
Note: This place isn’t busy and the manager hasn’t said anything, so I assume my car is where I left it.
Note: With all respect to Mr. Hosseini, who writes beautiful books, I had no idea to express when I began writing this. I wrote it because WP told me to.