On Writing…or whatever it is that I do.

business man shrug

I was recently drafting a premise for a post. It was one that I felt particularly sure about at the moment of its inception. It was one that arose out of a fire that had been building and consuming my thoughts. I was so sure that the premise was based on a truth, and so I took to the keyboard with righteous anger. However, after a few paragraphs I ran out of fuel, but I was still smoldering. I was sure that no harm would come by taking a break because it had burned so intently that it had seared my flesh so I made the cardinal sin of walking away from the keyboard for the night. I made sure to take care of the glowing ember through the night. I stoked the next few paragraphs in my thoughts until sleep salved me.

The next morning brought sorrow, and then panic. I wasn’t so angry. Not nearly as angry as the night before, and whatever was left in the ash wasn’t righteous anymore, but I held out hope that the flame would reignite. Surely something would set it ablaze today. So I waited, and waited, and waited for fury to bring its flaming wrath, but it never came. I waited a few days before I returned to the premise, but when I came back to it I wasn’t so sure. I remembered the words that I wanted to write. The ones that seemed so perfect just nights before. “Fuck! I knew that I should’ve struck while the iron was hot!”, I said to myself in a moment of pity. Believing the premise to be dead, I decided to leave the draft in limbo.

A few days later something happened. I started to think about the premise again wondering if I could still salvage it by reworking it into something less angry. Maybe I could just go more philosophical with it? You know, give it an air of nuance and holier-than-though bullshit to make it more antiseptic. Then I began to rewrite it as a less honest version of its former fiery self. I struggled to make it work in any form. I searched for a reason why, but I couldn’t figure out what the hell was keeping me from finishing it. It felt like every word that I wrote was pushing me further away from what I wanted to say in the original version and that bothered me. I couldn’t square my emotions let alone my words. I was now so far removed from the emotion of the original version that I felt as if I returned to it, and wrote in its haughty tone I would be lying. My words would be a lie. I couldn’t lie! Who cared if I lied? No one would know. I got into a fruitless argument with myself over this, and I decided that I would abandon the premise altogether. Besides, I had found a second premise that directly contradicted the convictions of the first.

And so, I began to write the second premise now full of smug superiority to my former self. I wrote a few solid paragraphs, and was happily on my way to a more Zen-like destination when I ran out of gas again and turned in for the night. Wouldn’t you know it? I woke up angry again. Fuck me! Of course the original premise once again burned with heretical fervor, and of course the second premise still stood ready to douse its flames. Faced with this new dilemma, I did what any good writer would do in the situation, I tried to forget about the problem which meant harping on it incessantly throughout the day. I tried drowning it in a few beers, but that just made me burp, and drunk, and a bit more irritated. So I did what a not-so-good writer would do and tried to stitch the two dueling premises together by taking the edges off of them both. I figured that by dulling them I could fit them into one nice and neat post. (I tried it, and it sucked!)

It seemed that all was lost. (That’s writer speak for, “Man I really wanted to write that.”) Then enter a muse. I shared my troubles with a fellow writer, and she advised me simply, “Write both.” Write both? Clearly she didn’t understand the depths of my anguish, the importance of speaking truth, and do I dare say…the purity of the post! Write both. What a ridiculous piece of advice. So simple. So dismissively said. Write both. But what about my truth? Then I realized what she was saying. Write both not as here’s one truth, and by the way I can’t make up my mind so here’s another one that completely contradicts it, but rather write the first, then the second, and finally the third. (Wait what third?)

The third premise, dummy. The one that had been preventing you from writing the other two. The one that had extinguished the conflagration of the first. The one that had evaporated the second. The one that you hadn’t realized was there the entire time. The one that didn’t let you compromise yourself out of vanity and laziness. The third premise. The truth. My truth. I thanked my muse and began to write the following three-part post:

© J. Manuel


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