For me, writing is like a snowball. Unfortunately, I live in Texas where snowballs are rare; therefore, I have to make my own. Making your own snowball can be a blast, and recently, a friend of mine showed me a great way:
The friend is “John Ramsey”:http://www.myspace.com/johnramseycomedy. You may have seen him in some of the “Ramsey Bros”:http://www.youtube.com/ramseybrospictures stuff that I post from time to time. John is an attorney by day and a comedian by night. I think he’s funny, and you probably do too. I can’t, however, say much about his lawyering skills (I try to stay out of legal trouble as much as I can).
Anyway, John had a bunch of new material that he wanted to write. I suppose he just had kernels of jokes, seedlings that required developing, nurturing, germination, etc. Both of our wives were out of town at the same time, so John invited me up to Austin for a writer’s weekend.
Allow me to first say that this was in the midst of a huge literary drought for me. Not only had I found it impossible to move forward on my many writing projects, but I had also found it difficult to read much. In reality, it had become too easy to switch on the TV and watch a movie or whatever (witness my recent posts on The X-Files). John’s invitation couldn’t have come at a better time.
Essentially, our plan was this: shut up and write.
When John and I get together, we can talk about anything and all night long. Not that we didn’t have a marathon conversation Saturday night, but, for the most part, we curbed these urges and stuck to the script.
John lay on the couch in his living room with his laptop and notebook nearby, thinking and writing. A lot of thought goes into comedy. Who knew? I suppose he was trying to find the funniest ways to express whatever he was writing. I was standing in the kitchen, with my laptop on the counter (I have read somewhere that Hemingway preferred to stand for fear that his ass would get fat…), clacking away at the keyboard.
At first, it felt totally staged. I was really forcing the issue. I wrote ten pages of drivel about some poor idiotic soul who was working his tail off, performing various tasks, and documenting them, all in hopes of turning that documentation over to his local church officials so that they could make him a saint. It sucks. It stinks. Let’s not dwell it. Nevertheless, a breakthrough was in the making — I had written something substantial for the first time in weeks.
I moved on to the next story…
…and the next…
Before I knew it, I had churned out many thousand words on various topics. I even gained the courage to begin developing an idea that I’d had in my little brainstorm repository for quite some time. I’m still working that story (the memoirs of a man afflicted with dementia/Alzheimer’s).
By faking it through those ten pages of disgusting prose, I had manufactured a snowball. By muscling through for the rest of the weekend, I had started rolling it down hill. The snowball grows as it moves, gaining in size and speed.
My only fear: hitting the bottom of the hill.
That will come sometime. I know it for sure. I just hope it’s later rather than sooner.
Need a snowball? Lock yourself inside, perhaps with a friend to hold you accountable, and just fake it until you feel it.