Monday, October 24th, 2011
In the past year, I’ve done more writing than I have since the first time I was in grad school some 20 years ago. Blog writing. Playwriting (or to spell it like it is: playrewriting). Screenplay writing and rewriting. And, most recently, the writing of the story version of the Prodigal God script. As I embark on a fifth type of writing this fall (back in grad school), I’m mindful how each written media carries with it distinct conventions, expectations, rules, structures, challenges, and (hopefully) rewards.
This series of posts is meant as a little survey about what it’s like to write in mutually exclusive written media.
In a nub, there’s no one right way to write, and there are plenty of wrong ways. Plenty. Think horn of plenty, a big honking cornucopia of lameness just waiting for you to type it. Thing is you can’t know right and wrong as the words come to you, and when it’s done, it’s not your opinion about what you’ve written that much matters (or your morality). As my fiction writing friend, Ron MacLean, has said for years, writing is always an act of faith. And he’s not talkin’ ‘bout religion.
Also common to all kinds of writing (which can easily slip one’s mind when not writing) is how painful it is. Like the proverbial woman who births a child only to “forget” the pain while swaddling the fruit of her labor, I enjoy having written much more than I enjoy the actual writing itself. Some writer wrote that once. I don’t know who. And there’s the rub: after you’ve written something worth quoting, someone may not even remember you.
About blog writing. First off, I don’t do it much compared to real bloggists who churn out hundreds of words which are read by hundreds of people each day. Which leads me to my primal fear about blogging. How to not come off as a whiner or a crank? Maybe this says more about me than about blogging, but if you really got my constant inner monologue on virtual paper, I wouldn’t be able to obscure the flow of self-pity and judgment. This is the only thing I know so well as to be able to churn it out in the hundreds and thousands of words. (And now I am talkin’ ‘bout religion, God help me, and the unlikely similarities between blogging and prayer.) I’m reminded of comments made on a journal I had to hand in for a creative writing class. My prof voiced alarm in red ink about my “mercurial” struggles. I had to look that word up at the time, and no, I wasn’t on the verge of suicide as she had feared. Maybe it was she who taught me how much writing out my anguish helps me not to succumb to it.
Speaking of undergrad, I’m also reminded of a modern drama course I took at Boston University. The instructor was a skinny 30-something poet with an unruly, multidirectional salt-and-pepper mop of hair, brows and mustache. In describing an absurdist play which none of us understood in the least, he served up a memorable adjective which I’d be wiser not to use here. But it sharpens the point, and since that’s what writing is all about, here goes. Masturbatory. (I warned you.) I had never heard the word spoken aloud before (or since) in that particular conjugation. Ever the literalist, I didn’t get what the prof was talking about at the time, except that perhaps there were other writers in the world who found ways to release anxiety that didn’t have to do with word count. As I consider the blogosphere, I wonder if I’m beginning to understand what he meant.
Words, words, words… Will you get to the point? I’ve got work to do.
Blogs are heaven for the procrastinator. The whole enterprise can come off as one universal diversion from whatever we’re actually supposed to be doing. That’s most often the case when I blog-binge, and I’ll be honest, if I wasn’t under a writing deadline for something else, I wouldn’t be as motivated as I am to write this blog. Please – give me anything to do but the thing I’m supposed to be doing right now. It seems to me that’s what a blog is for, in the reading and the writing. (And maybe the internet as a whole. And then there’s the shame for having indulged, which is why, I suppose, such an indelicate adjective came to mind. But surely someone is reading this, so let’s hope something less lonely and more satisfying is happening right now.)
The last thing I’ll say about blogging (promise) is to note the fine line between self-disclosure and spin. To risk total transparency, let me acknowledge that the point of this blog is to get you to read it, and thus, to get you more invested in our little project. In the end, one might ask how is that not one big sleight-of-hand pr-manipulation? Which is certainly not my intention or the hope.
Here’s where transparency becomes the be-all (hopefully without the whining, cranky self-indulgence). The point of this blog is to remove the veil that often separates artist and audience. To invite you into our actual creative process and to render it as directly, accurately and compellingly as possible. Not just during and after the project’s anticipated success, but before. While it’s still an unknown. It is in the land of unknown, in fact, where the writer is most fully alive.
This is a faith venture through and through. There’s no right way to do what we’re doing. There are plenty of wrong ways, and we’ve tried them. Here’s who we are. Here’s what we’re attempting to do. Here’s what’s working. Here’s what we’re learning.
by: Christopher Greco