writer’s block


Listening to: “River” – Joni Mitchell

I don’t have time to be going all bloggy now, I’ve got shit to do–but isn’t that always the time when I write in this fucking thing?

Rooting around my drawers today, I came across my old travel journal from my 6 months studying abroad in London my junior year of college. Well, from only 3 of those months actually. I kept a different journal during the first 3 months. It was a Moleskine notebook. I lost it one spring day in a field in Surrey. At least, that’s the last time I remember seeing it. There’s even a picture of me writing in it that day:

Last seen

I was on a hike around the countryside with a friend’s school group. We had ducked into a random old church (aren’t they all in England?) that turned out to contain the oldest wall painting in Europe. Or somesuch impressive historical statistic. It had been covered over during Henry VIII’s reign, because goons were going around the countryside in the wake of the “Reformation” destroying Catholic or Pagan-leaning paintings. In the mid-20th century, people restoring the church knocked into a wall and found it, perfectly preserved, hidden behind. I put 40 pence into a wooden box for a postcard of the mural and stuck it in my journal and walked out of the church with it in my hand. We continued on through farmers’ fields. Later, on the Tube back to my flat in East London, I realized it was missing from my bag.

I think of all the things I’ve lost or misplaced in my life (and there have been lots), if I could reclaim any one of them, it would be that journal. It had recollections, sketches, souvenirs, poems, and story fragments from my stay in London and from my trips to Paris, Dublin, the Lake District, Oxford, Bath, Peterborough, Brighton, Vienna, and Salzburg. To lose it was… well, it sucks. It sucks a lot.

But I digress; I was talking about the journal I do still have, the little orange leather-bound journal I bought at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2003. And I’m very thankful that I still have that one. I read through it tonight when I found it. This one has the goods from Barcelona, Madrid, Mallorca, Rome, Venice, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Scottish Highlands, and the airplane ride back to the States.

In addition to all my writing, it’s got Metro tickets, cigarette ashes, tattoo designs, pigeon feathers, rose petals, restaurant napkins, beer labels, herb leaves… It was the happiest and saddest time of my life. Happy, because I was doing my favorite thing–traveling. And I was prolific, and I was learning how to be on my own, and discovering new things about myself, and hooking up with lots of random boys. Sad, because I was intensely lonely and depressed, and didn’t know what I wanted and was racking up infinite debt.

When I finished reading, I looked around my apartment and took a brief stock of my current situation–busy beyond comprehension, a published writer, slowly paying off my debts, a dog in the kitchen, still single (no patience for relationships, mon chers), still a slob, a few days away from 24.

Aw shit. I’m having one of those stupid quarter-life crises, aren’t I?

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Listening to: “Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads (playing low from the speakers at the Second Cup)

At the ol’ coffee shop again (the one with the actual good coffee), working on a review of a fantastic production of Tony Kushner’s fantastic Angels in America, and I felt compelled to share my favorite quote (in a script full of favorite quotes) from the play with you, O blogosphere. It shows that Kushner’s cut from the same stalk as Frost and Merrill and Blake and yes, Pullman. The passionate declaration that life on Earth is infinitely more precious and holy and kickass than any sort of potential hereafter. This is from Part 2: Perestroika: Prior Walter, dying of AIDS, to a host of angels in heaven:

But still. Still.
Bless me anyway.
I want more life. I can’t help myself. I do.
I’ve lived through such terrible times, and there are people who live through much much worse, but. . . . You see them living anyway.
When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children, they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die. But I recognize the habit. The addiction to being alive. We live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough, so inadequate but. . . . Bless me anyway. I want more life.


It’s snowing again, which for some fucked reason makes winter much more bearable than when it’s really cold and sunny. Mixed weather makes me nauseas for some reason. And January sun is just perverse. Weak and pale and nickel-bright.

My as-yet-unfinished short story (novella? graphic novel? whatever it ends up as…) “World’s End” is getting published in serialized form in my friend’s Upstate NY literary magazine. I like the idea of serializing fiction. It’s not something you see too often nowadays–the exception being Michael Chabon‘s delightfully overblown Gentlemen of the Road. I feel like it makes the reader part of the writing process in some distant way. It also lights a much-needed fire under my ass to get the damn thing done, or at it least to keep it moving along.

“World’s End” seems to be turning more into a collection of stories about London during my very special apocalypse than an organized, well-plotted thing. At this point, the only real McGuffin is Alex’s zombie bite. Who knows what it’ll become?

Ok. Ok. I’m ending this post right now and writing my damned articles. Fucking blaaarrrgggh! That’s what I say to you, Sirs. That’s what I say to you.

Listening to: “Adventures Close to Home” – The Raincoats

Ah, my dear goitery little blog. My little dancing-ground for getting my writing muscle pumping when it won’t go on its own. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, considering I’ve been writing my guts out all week. Ugh. I don’t know if I can keep up at this pace–4 or 5 plays a week, articles for all of them, plus DVD and CD reviews and a preview piece here and there; plus fielding 6 conference calls with writers in cities all over the fucking country, then amassing all their blurbs and editing them and… christ.

Lately, I think the universe is trying to tell me something. This week, I’ve run into a ridiculous amount of people from my past. I mean, who’d figure on my old GeVa Summer Academy teacher showing up in a touring production of Spamalot? Or my old fight director in the crowd at The Misanthrope after party. Or my college acting professor emailing me out of the blue. Or running into half the ol’ grad acting program at The Little Dog Laughed.

Small world, or small theater world?

I was talking to Meron about how I’d always wanted to get a staged reading of this one-act play I wrote in college, and he told me about this thing called the Last Frontier Theatre Conference. A bunch of playwrights shooting the shit and getting their new works read….. in the Alaskan wilderness! During the summer solstice, when the sun’s out 24/7!

So I figure, what the hell. I’ll submit Thanksgiving and see if they bite. Everyone loves pterodactyls and incest, right? And Alaska…gawd. That would be the hotness. Well, the coldness. The frozen wilderness, and mooses, and playwrights!

*busts out Eskimo gear*

K, ’nuff ranting for now. More coffee, and more writing. Pinter isn’t gonna deconstruct himself, after all.

Well, actually–he probably would. Maybe I’ll just let him do that.

Listening to: “The Time of Times” – Badly Drawn Boy

Haven’t written in the past few days, cause I’ve been angry and ranting at people a lot. And frustration doesn’t make for very good blog posts.

buffy401_385.jpg

XANDER: ‘Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to anger.’ No wait, hold on. ‘Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to the Dark Side.’ Hold on, no, umm, ‘First you get the women, then you get the money, then you…’ Okay, can we forget that?

BUFFY: Thanks for the Dadaist pep talk, I feel much more abstract now.

Oh, Joss Whedon. How dearly we need you to swoop in and save television from itself. But I digress, as I so often do. I’m blogging again because, well, I have a deadline. And I’m procrastinating. That’s why I started this damnable thing in the first place.

I’ve seen five plays this week, and interviewed an actor, and I’m seeing five more next week, and interviewing a director. And an artist. And the beat goes on…

Basically I’m busy lately, for super-cereal. And I’m, to be politic about it, very dissatisfied–with the state of Boston journalism at the moment. But like I said, the beat goes on…

Saving graces = light substance abuse, bitching to friends, and Flight of the Conchords. God, that show is funny.

I tried playing basketball yesterday. That was funny, too.

Blech. Okay. *Steels self* Time for another round of article-writing and another cup of coffee. Or a beer, maybe. Maybe both.

Listening to: “Boys of Melody” – The Hidden Cameras

I have to say–I’ve had some pretty bad writer’s block in my day. But this? Dude, this is just bad. An entire weekend spent staring hopelessly at my computer screen. I wonder if my mood’s brushing off on Tucker. Writers are supposed to have cats, aren’t they? That kind of curl around their typewriters and gaze artfully out the window, calling to the muses.

Eh, fuck cats. Even if Tucker doesn’t understand my writer’s block, he can empathize. If that isn’t a gaze of brute intelligence, I don’t know what is:Brute intelligence

So last night I tried booze to fuel my creativity–didn’t do the trick. Tonight, I’m trying tea. Doesn’t seem to be helping either. Maybe I’ll go back to booze.

I finally came up with a title for my apocalypse party story: World’s End. Don’t know why it never occurred to me before. I had already decided that Alex and Ned live in North London, so it was a quick leap to the World’s End neighborhood in Enfield–London’s northernmost borough. Wish I had patron like in olden times; then I could fly to England to check out the area and write it off as a “research trip.”

I know what the story needs is an upping of the drama; but I sort of think the reason Alex lasts for so long is because he flies under the radar, stays apathetic, avoids drama. ‘Course when you get bit by a zombie, no matter how small a zombie, the remaining hours of your life are bound to take on a different color.

I like the idea of “fact” and “fiction” blurring in the apocalyptic world. Goes back to that whole Philip Pullman theory about storytelling as a sort of religion–or a moral code anyhow. Or something. I could never put it as eloquently as he does. Where’s Professor Flesch when you need him?

Did I have a point? Oh yes, the man in Mile End who may or may not have become a black hole. One of those stories. New myths. Linking, perhaps, with the old myths Alex’s grandfather told him about the hidden worlds and layers of history beneath London.

“The heart of modern London contains a vast clandestine underworld of tunnels, telephone exchanges, nuclear bunkers and control centres… [s]ome of which are well documented, but the existence of others can be surmised only from careful scrutiny of government reports and accounts and occassional accidental disclosures reported in the news media.”
~ Anthony Clayton, Subterranean City: Beneath the Streets of London

Ooo speaking of… just did a bit of poking and found this website about London’s abandoned Tube stations.

Camden catacombs

Alright, now I’m getting inspired! Just not to do the work I’m supposed to be doing.

I wish I could draw. Better, I mean. Sometimes words stop working well. <—- [like just there]

Listening to: “I’m Still Your Fag” – Broken Social Scene

Ugh. I don’t know if keeping a blog is the best thing for me. Might lead to further introspection, and Furry Bleeding Jesus in a Bucket knows I’ve already got that coming out my eyeballs. But it’s a noble experiment of sorts, so I’ll give it a go. What the fuck.

In any case, they say the best thing for a person with writer’s block to do is to…write. Anything. So here it is. Anything. I’ve got to write some Dig This award pimp blurbs plus a review for the Dig tonight (okay, make that negative 12 hours ago…) and another bloody review for the Herald tomorrow. Plus, I’ve got to interview these kids. Favor for a friend. I’m shit with kids.

Carried Tucker’s poop in a sandwich bag for at least four blocks before I found a dumpster. After awhile, the warm air rising off it started to warm my hand. Disgustingly pleasant.

Right now, I’m drinking James’ jug wine. Chianti this time. It’s usually Merlot. It tastes like candy, and it’s burning my tongue.

What is this plaaaace

Ain’t this a great picture? Found it on DeviantArt… my new procrastination zone. Should make some art myself, one of these days.

*Sips shitty wine*

S’right.