When my mother suggested I head down to the garage to look through the antique suitcase sitting beneath my father’s old workbench, little did I expect to uncover the veritable treasure trove of trash sitting within. Among the numerous long-forgotten items I discovered:
The universal translator I made the year I went trick-or-treating as Captain James T. Kirk.
My dilapidated Star Wars scrapbook.
A collection of many-sided gaming dice.
The big, fat exercise book containing my handwritten synopses for every one of Shakespeare’s plays. A little something I put together during a fifth grade summer.
The collected plot points for the first 500+ issues of my own original and unfortunately-named comic book: The Extremers!
And a whole whack of short (and not-so-short) stories I wrote as a kid with such memorable titles The Town’s Trance and The Robot Revolution.
I started flipping through the latter, my personal works of fiction dating from as far back as second grade, and realized two things. #1: I still can’t come up with a title to save my life. And, #2: Egregious plots and absurd characters aside, I wrote very well for a kid my age. So well, in fact, that given the many formative years between then and now, I really should be a much better writer. When I was younger, I could set aside an afternoon and bang out a short story in one sitting. Nowadays (ie. last night), the fact that I’m able to produce two paragraphs is a major achievement. Relative quality aside, WTF happened?
Well, I suppose I could blame a number of things. My life is a heck of a lot busier now than it was then, filled with countless distractions that make it nigh impossible to dedicate an extended chunk of time to the craft. Then there’s the fact that these aforementioned distractions have inexorably, over the course of many, many years, worn away my once unwavering capacity to focus. Whereas once, writing was an enjoyable act of free expression, it is now…well…not. That’s not to say it doesn’t provide some satisfaction. There are times when I’ll re-read something I’ve written and think “Hey, this is pretty good.” and then immediately follow up with a dispiriting “I’ll never be able to top it!”.
I used to think I was unique but, having met, worked with, and gotten to know a host of other writers, I’ve come to realize that we have one thing in common. For almost all of us, the act of writing can be a frustrating and painful process marked by long, lonely hours, self-doubt, and despair. And yet, these same writers do manage to produce very good, often great works. Which inevitably leads them to wonder whether or not “That was the last one” or “exactly how many still remain in the tank“. To be honest, it’s something that crosses my mind every time I finish a script. At what point does the creativity or will to write tap out?
One of the reasons I write these daily blog entries (aside from my main motivation of keeping you all entertained on a consistent basis) is to, hopefully, sharpen my skills, develop a better ear for rhythm, and, most importantly, recapture the ability to concentrate that seems to have deserted me. In some ways I’ve succeeded; in others, failed miserably. On the one hand, I’m proud to say that since starting this little online journal several years ago, I’ve yet to miss a day of blogging, and that, in retrospect, some of the entries have proven mighty entertaining and, occasionally, informative. On the other hand, however, it really hasn’t helped make the words come any easier when I sit down to write a script or, most recently, this short story.
I look back at some of history’s greatest artists and can’t help but note an apparent link between genius and madness. In a way, it makes perfect sense when you consider that various talents – abstract art, fiction writing, acting (oh, especially acting!) – demand the creator dissociate themselves from reality. And the more removed the better! The abstract art fashions his own original interpretation of reality. The fiction writer builds settings and characters borne from his mind’s eye. The actor becomes someone else. I suppose it’s no wonder that many artists, past and present, tend to be society’s biggest substance abusers, seeking chemical short-cuts to gifts once naturally and far more easily attained.
So, what’s my point? To tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure. In the end, I could just be giving vent to some pent-up frustrations. Or simply extemporizing for the sake of meeting my daily blog commitments. But, more than likely, I guess that what I’m trying to say is that if, in fact, there is indeed a direct correlation between inspiration and lunacy, I can’t help but think that for someone as crazy as I am, I really should be a hell of a lot more creatively driven.