W. P. Johnson

Beer and Trembling

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Or Beer and Loathing? How long can a person maintain a series of idiotic literary puns that simultaneously relate to the topic at hand, that of literature and writing? Only time will tell.

Writing stinks. It’s lonely, depressing, frustrating, and even during the moments of joy derived from a successful hour in front of a typewriter, it’s quickly followed by a slow growing dread that the work produced was a total fluke never to return again. Every success soon feels like a failure, just another twenty pages of practice for the eventual masterpiece far out of reach. Imagine squinting towards the top of a mountain that seems capable of scaling, especially since you’ve been rock climbing so much lately, but it would be so much easier to just stay inside and drink hot coco or get drunk in the hot tub. Why fail when it’s so much easier to just not try in the first place?

There are so many things I’d rather do. I’d rather watch TV, get drunk, jerk off, write a fucking email, ANYTHING but sit down and try to write fiction. I’d rather wake up having pissed the bed because at least that would give me something that I HAD to deal with in that moment. In chatting with a friend of mine who also writes we discussed how the act of being creative forces us to subjugate all other activities into this category of utter nuisance. I have to do the laundry, I have to shop for food, go to the gym, clean my apartment. Jesus Christ, I’ve gotta stop what I’m doing and eat again? I already ate something this morning! There’s this mountain just waiting for me to scale it- but I need a fucking haircut. How is there even any time to write at all with all these things that need doing? When did I become so busy?

There are so many different answers artists give when asked why they create. They love the act of creation, they want to better understand society or comment on it through their work. Some people want to leave their mark, others use it as compensation for being unable to communicate in the way normal people interact with each other. How many authors were the cool kids in school? Maybe a few, but I bet the rest were total losers and needed some medium to communicate to people they’d never have to meet and possibly face rejection from.

With the exception of rejection letters. But writers are also stubborn. And they’re fucking idiots.

Well… let me explain.

American Typo is the title of this blog, a pun based on American Psycho, setting the tongue in cheek tone of these posts, something I’ve decided to start writing just to get it out of my head. Why American Psycho? Because a person would have to be crazy to ever try and be a writer. There’s no money to be had, rarely any kind of success, and talent can take years and years to develop. Relative to the amount of people trying to write fiction, you are a drop in one awful bucket of miserable sons of bitches. Realizing this, anyone deciding to write is a goddamn fool.

But (always a but after a backhanded insult, isn’t there?) I had an epiphany the other night. It was two in the morning and I had probably been writing for about six or seven hours, burned out, exhausted. The heat prompts a lot of water, and therefore a lot of bathroom breaks, something I always look forward to as it’s like a mini vacation from the blank computer screen. While in the bathroom there appeared a small person in the mirror, out of sight by the door. After ten minutes of searching the apartment, not a single living thing could be found but the story remained in my head, completely terrifying and surreal.

Since then the story hasn’t left my head, and neither has the little man in the mirror with all the creepy ambiguous ideas that he continues to drag around like a bunch of noisy chains. It would be easy to never write about it; there is so much I’d rather do, like clean the bathroom for the first time in months, in fact that’s something I HAVE to do isn’t it? But then he won’t leave. He’ll stick around for weeks and weeks, he’ll fucking jump in the corner of the mirror until I’m old and too blind to see it, but even then I’ll end up assuming he’s lingering in a reflection somewhere in the world. And it isn’t even the fear. It’s the not knowing that is truly haunting. Is he evil? Or is the irony of it all the fact that hes actually trying to save the narrator but is approached with fear and contempt? Is he trying to warn me of something? I have to know, but no one else is able to tell me. It’s buried somewhere deep in my head, the earliest image like a corpse floating to the surface after a flood, and my shovel is waiting for me to just pick it up and start digging.

The truth is, the only thing worst than writing is not writing at all. Maybe its as simple as the fact that more joy exists in writing because it’s less painful than the stress that builds up from never even trying to write in the first place. My creepy guy in the mirror isn’t going to go anywhere until I bother trying to tell his story. And I can give myself as many things to do as possible, pack my day with errands, but he’s still gonna be there, tapping me on the shoulder to start digging, start writing already.

Maybe I approach the typewriter with dread, fear and trembling. But never knowing what could be, what’s left in that flooded graveyard, is much more frightening. So grab a six pack and a shovel. There’s digging to do.





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