Monday, October 4, 2004


I suppose I have hit one of the doldrum plateaus that most online diarists (or bloggers, if you prefer) wallow in at one time or another during their careers. I have been part of this whole blogging thing (Blogosphere, Blogiverse, Ship of Fools, call it what you will) for a little over three years now, reading as well as writing; and I've seen a number of great writers quit blogging, or take extended breaks from blogging which drag on and on, or simply scale back their efforts so far that they only post once or twice a month. I've had to revise my Daily Reads column several times after whole blocks of brilliant bloggers have faded from the horizon.

The reasons are usually the same... life intervenes, the blogger becomes too busy living life to write about it; then there are those whose blogs have grown so popular that they get out of control, where the writer finds him- or herself at the mercy of the blog's readers, losing his or her own true voice in the attempt to satisfy or at least pacify the commenting mob. And there are those who simply grow weary of living life in a verbal fishbowl, who suddenly yearn to have a life-experience without thinking about how to turn it into a funny blog post.

But my doldrums are not because of these. Granted, my life is a little hectic right now, and I am finding it difficult to find the time to sit down and write. But really, it's the motivation that I'm lacking, not the time and energy. I am simply growing weary of writing. I am weary of finding new things to say, finding so little left in my soul that hasn't already been written about. I am weary of mining my subconscious for material. It's taking me longer to say less, and the effort is starting to bore me.

When I get into these doldrums (and it has happened before, though not to the extent I am experiencing it now), I have to remember why I'm here, writing online as I do.

I remember, some years ago, reading a huge book I found on the Oversize shelves in the Laney College library (I have always had an affinity for the Oversize shelves, where books from many sections are lumped together... plus I just like big books): The Journals of André Gide, in which his private journal entries are interleaved with his short stories and segments of his novels and essays. It presents a rare view into the creation of literature, an illustration of how one writer mined his private life for the material of his public writing.

In one of the journal entries, Gide discoursed to himself about the difficulties he'd found in his youth finding time to write. Now, Gide didn't have to work for a living, but he had family and friends and life, and there were always distractions... and it was on these distractions that he blamed his inability to concentrate on his writing. So he went away to a small town where he knew no one and took up residence at an inn, there to force himself to write. But instead of squeezing out a novel, as he'd intended, he spent pretty much the entire time masturbating... indulging in "self-abuse" (as he called it) to such an extent that it made him physically ill.

Now, the lessons in this are multifold; but it was Gide's stated consideration (as I remember, though I'm not sure I remember correctly) that it wasn't the lack of time and energy that was preventing his writing a novel, it was his lack of a novel to write... and that trying to force the creation of a novel was about as useful as masturbating oneself into a decline. He nevertheless maintained a meticulous journal of his ideas, in between all-day sessions of spanking his monkey, a journal that stood him in good stead when it came time to recapture his own understanding of his own youth. It was the journal that was of value in the creation of a novel, and in the examination of his life.

Aside from the wisdom of this consideration, I was struck by the candor with which Gide wrote about his life and his ideas in journals that he knew would be read, which he in fact insisted should be read. It is this candor that I try to use when I write, in which no topic is taboo, in which no embarrassment is allowed to be euphemized, in which the mundane and even perhaps tedious details of my life are given the weight and importance of literature... for it is this candid record of mundane details that will, hopefully, provide a vein of truth that I can mine for the creation of good fiction.

And so I intend to keep plugging away at this diary, journal, blog, whatever-it-is for as long as it takes. I will have times when I don't want to write, times when I have little to write about, times when I just haven't got the liesure and energy to sit down and write. But I won't quit. I won't take extended breaks. I won't let go of this valuable resource.

But I will have to go to work now... unlike so many of my favorite novelists, I have to labor for my ducats. And so the litany of mundane activities that I started to talk about before I got side-tracked into remembering Gide's journals will have to wait until the next time I can carve out an hour of my life to write about it all.

Until then, have a lovely day!

No comments:

Post a Comment