Thursday, April 10, 2008

In Which XN Complains Abundantly About Things

I've had three topics in succession, as I sit here thinking of things to write about. Instead of touching on any of them, I'm confronted by how judgmental I can be. I don't like that. I want to be a social observer but I don't want to be some callous bastard who puts himself above others.

Not sure where that line is. Somewhere between "his hair is matted and grown long to swoop down over one eye" and "he gave himself a toilet-swirley and is covering one eye in an attempt to block out the pain, oh forlorn." Show but don't tell is a technique one of my favorite authors implements to a fine degree. Rather than coming off as a dry recitation of observable fact, it places you in the world he's creating. I wonder if there's a subtler insinuation of...

Awesome. I'm trying to not be judgmental, and a huge flock of teenagers just came into the library. They're all trying out their own fashion statements.

This is like, "Okay, today I'm going to eat responsibly," and then I'm presented with a $150 gift certificate for Wuollet's (purveyors of delicious baked goods laden with sugar and butter, for those not familiar). I have to stop looking around and change the topic.

I got all my essays rewritten last night, that was very satisfying. It was eminently helpful to have all that feedback from students who were forced to read my material, to use their feedback to shape up my piece into a slightly more complete work. I would love to form a writer's group so as to secure this kind of feedback but I know it would suck. It's impossible to form the people I would want to write in a group with. Past groups were beset with tremendous difficulty: the writers abjectly refused to discuss certain topics, one guy had no original ideas and only ripped off the other writers but expected to be praised for his innovation, and then you get those writers who show their hand at the beginning of the association. You know exactly what you're going to get from them as long as you work with them. Someone who's always going to write about her accidental pregnancy, or always going to write about their short stint in jail, or always going to write about so-and-so succumbing to whatever disease. I don't intend to be disrespectful to their plight, but I don't enjoy trying to form a creative collaboration with someone who purposely digs out a deep rut in which their wheel may spin endlessly.

"Let's write about our favorite fruit."
"Once, my brother who has lumbago ate an apple. He gnawed at it painfully for a while, ravaged as he was by lumbago, unable to break its dense rind..."

"Let's write about places we've been."
"I went to see the Grand Canyon, but my brother couldn't come. He has lumbago. It is slowly overtaking his own body to the point where he cannot even enjoy simple pleasures such as the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, or even a deep breath."

"Let's write about anything but lumbago. We are forbidden to write about lumbago at all."
"This essay is about all the things I can do that my brother cannot. I can sleep in my lumbago-free bed. When I cough, it is a healthy, vital cough that does not spread lumbago. I easily crush apples with unlumbagoed jaws. My legs, blessed with an absense of lumbago, pump and charge about the yard, beneath the window of my bedridden brother."

I can pick up trash on the street, I can visit elderly and enfeebled neighbors in their homes, I can donate my computer time to charity and separate my recycling. But when I write like this, I feel like deep down I'm just a bad person.


thepilver said...

Having never been in your group, I was glad to hear Quos Deus Vult Perdere. I too, spent my high school years as a pen pal to many, living in a small town with no internet access yet available. I haven't had the chance to read much on your site yet, but if you have not already, you should post it. Definitely a good read.
(Yes, I am so nerdy I drove straight home to check out a new blog)

Christian said...

I do the same thing! As soon as I got married I went online and changed my relationship status on Facebook and MySpace! I'm a huge geek and that's okay! Actually, I logged on last night too to see if you'd made contact and browsed your blog too.

I really enjoyed the essay you wrote in class. I like essays that explore a profession or aspect of life, augmented by human observation and trivia specific to such a profession. You've got some wicked sharp humor, too.