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The Fine Art of Finding Something to Say
Warning! The following contains exactly one instance of completely gratuitous vulgarity, included for the sole purpose of avoiding that "G" rating that is always such box office poison.
It never fails. I get sucked in every year, despite all my years of hard experience and disillusionment.
Every New Year's Day, in the throes of my admittedly self-absorbed obsession with continual self-improvement, I assemble an impossibly long list of New Year's resolutions, the vast majority of which I know I will break before the Rose Bowl halftime show. Case in point: flossing always makes the list. Flossing has invariably gone right down the ol' poop chute by New Year's night. (I have a very sensitive gag reflex. Shoving my fingers into my mouth for even the noblest of reasons is anathema to me.)
Yet I'm even now attempting to keep one of the most important resolutions on my list: To post some original writing of my own (comments on others' work doesn't count) on Lit.org at least once a month. Last I checked, it's still January 2009, so I'm still in the running.
That just leaves one significant hurdle: coming up with something to say. Ideally, something worth saying. Coming up with something in which any reader might conceivably be interested beyond the first paragraph would be icing on the cake, but I'm not pushing my luck.
Perhaps the problem is one of self-consciousness - a wariness about self-disclosure along the lines of "better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt." Looking back on the body of my previously-posted scribblings here, I think I can reasonably conclude that it's a little late to be worrying about that particular public revelation.
Perhaps my literary taciturnity (word or not-a-word? You be the judge.) is the down-side byproduct of relative contentment. Apart from some ongoing annoyances with which I must deal regularly in my day-to-day dealings, I'd have to say that I'm very satisfied with my current lot in life. Deliriously-happily married, plus I like my job. It's not a GREAT job, but it's one I can leave behind me when I clock out at the end of the day when it's time to resume my REAL life. I even like my boss! How often does that happen? (I'll be the first to admit, though - and he'd be the second to do so - that he's at best an acquired taste.)
Unfortunately, it may be that contentment isn't necessarily conducive to producing great literature. I'm hard pressed to work up a good angst even on a comparatively bad day. Reminds me of a TV comedy sketch I saw years ago (Mad TV?) wherein a perpetually anguished Alanis Morrisette-esque chick singer songwriter achieved stardom, then had the misfortune to fall head-over-heels in love, becoming blissfully happily, writing happy songs and ruining her career in the process.
Along the same lines, I'm reminded of the old story about the little boy who, despite the best efforts and interventions of his parents and teachers, never uttered a word. His hearing was fine, and he clearly understood what others said to him. His behavior was otherwise normal - even impeccable - yet he would not speak. Finally, at the age of six, he sat at the dinner table eyeing Mom's Liver Surprise with understandable apprehension. After some prodding from both parents, he took a tiny, tentative bite. He promptly spit the chunk of liver across the table into his little sister's face and bellowed, "This tastes like SHIT!!"
Ignoring the projectile food and the profanity, his astonished parents cried, "Johnny! You can talk!"
"Well, DUH!" Johnny sneered, "I AM six, y'know! I'm not a baby!"
"But why haven't you said a word in all this time?" they pressed.
Johnny replied matter-of-factly, "Heck, up 'til now, everything's been OK!"
Is there really that much to say if most everything in your life is OK? Granted, there are enough problems in this world that you could ALWAYS find some issue that demands attention and upon which you could speak out. I guess it may just take a little more drive to motivate yourself to do so when your own little corner of the world is relatively trouble-free. And yes, I DO appreciate how lucky I am.
Oh, God! I just realized that I'm writing about writer's block - the last refuge of the idea-free writer! I'm no better than those musicians who inevitably end up writing songs about how rough it is to be a touring musician on the road! (Oh, yeah?? Try working at a REAL job, rock star boy! Turn THAT page!)
Perhaps I'd better quit here, while I'm behind.
At the very least, though, I've kept that resolution, at least for now. Maybe I'll have come up with something more interesting to say by the end of next month. On second thought, February's a pretty short month, so let's not get our hopes up.
Now I'm going to go floss.
No, I'm not.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. - Groucho Marx