The Time, It Goes (or Lessons Learned Through Beating Oneself Stupid)

So another few months have passed and I’m not exactly worse for the wearing of time. I’ve finished a few books (Okay, maybe more than a few, but seriously, you should see how many my Mom has and then look at mine. Then you’ll see that mine only equals “a few.”). So the whole thing about writing every single day? Yeah, I’m still struggling with that. It helps when whatever you write doesn’t come out like some form of contrived drivel that makes you question whether this is really something you want to do forever and ever. Really, it helps. To which I have a lesson learned: There is more than one kind of fuel that *I* need in order to write.

Now I know what you’re thinking: This is a no-brainer, really. There’s movies, articles on the web, newspaper clippings (who reads the paper anymore, really? Isn’t that just liner for birdcages and craft projects so your kitchen table doesn’t get messed up?), books, conversations with people you know, people watching in crowded cafes, long walks surrounded by nature… the list goes on and on. Well, yeah, that *IS* a no-brainer. But not what I’m getting at.

Let’s try an example so you can maybe get what I’m trying to say. I can read books and consider that fuel. But what effects does this fuel have on me? I could read Pride and Prejudice (which I really need to do again sometime, because I enjoyed that one… and then follow it up with the movie version. Yeah… Good times coming. Especially this version).. *ahem* Sorry, easily sidetracked tonight. Anyway, I could read that story and get the emotional satisfaction of just how wonderful it is. It will make me have warm fuzzies and that’s an emotional fuel. Now let’s try this with a different story. Say I were to read Fahrenheit 451. I got more of an intellectual buzz on that one. It helped to stretch those all-important “What if” muscles and got me making connections and really thinking. It also freaked me out a bit with how much thinking it got me to do and where those thoughts led, but that’s beside the point. So that’s a separate kind of fuel as well. We have a secondary component to creating something, though we have yet to identify what exactly I’m creating. But a third kind of fuel is missing. It’s an important one, at least in my humble opinion.

Recently the Mother figure has gotten me to start digging into her stash of books, which I reluctantly admit has some really good and interesting stories I should explore a little more thoroughly. I didn’t realize I needed this third kind of fuel, or even that there were different kinds or that this method of organizing them was possible. I thought fuel was fuel and to just go with it. It wasn’t until I began reading Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladie’s Detective Agency series that I realized I finally found what I needed. This was something that fueled my particular style of writing, that made me feel good about how I write, and that I let my characters, like me, sometimes like to ramble on about their innermost thoughts and worries.

I don’t know. It just sort of feels like… like I’ve found something comforting in his writing that makes me feel good about my own for the first time since I was an undergrad. And that disgust with my own writing comes from a year and a half of workshops assaulting my confidence. I don’t regret it, especially for the people I met and the useful information I learned about writing and the process of seeking publication, but I probably could have done without that other stuff. When I graduated, I thought that I still had a lot to learn, and I was right. I still do have so much to learn. About life. About people. About history and philosophy and politics and military and other cultures and language and myself and so many other things. But I thought the way I would improve would be to forcefeed myself things that would supposedly make me smarter or at least appear so. I forcefed myself classic literature in hopes of learning something. I learned that that’s not enough. I learned that I stood a much better chance of enjoying it if it’s my idea to read it or if someone asks me to rather than it being an assignment. Assignments take all the fun out of it. But they didn’t necessarily make me better or smarter. This doesn’t mean I’ll stop, of course. It’s a genre I haven’t fully explored yet and I’m still trying to find my little niche of appreciation. But it means I will stop trying to feed myself *ONLY* these things.

I’ll dig into my Mother’s bookshelf some more in search of other Style-Fuel. And I’ll indulge in my friends’ combined wisdom in terms of movies and start digging into the past there because there is only a very small selection of movies and television shows I have seen. It’s past time I more thoroughly embraced as many different forms of fuel as possible to find what works for me.