Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Derek White, the editor of Sleeping Fish who i wrote about yesterday, is interviewed over at Bookslut, and it's really good. The man is certainly busy. He also runs Calimari Press and has a good blog called 5 cense. Calamari has some really interesting looking releases, particularly this new one called Tortoise by James Lewelling. Blake Butler had a really good review of it the other month.

In Derek's interview he mentions being incredulous at the thought of people studying writing. Derek is by trade a field geologist, which is awesome, but look at the amount of publishing work he does (he is also a talented writer). In the past year I've spent hours mulling over the idea of graduate school. Since I blew off most of my undergraduate years, waves academic nostalgia have been pulsing through my veins. This may be part of buying into the writerly phenomena of further education, or the fact I house so many teachers/writers each night.
Truthfully, I don't know if I much care to go back and "workshop" stories. In previous experiences I've found I had no interest in what most of my peers were producing. I imagine they felt the same way. You could chalk this up to youthful, self driven ignorance, however I am a lover of words and books and ideas and I get fired up when I find something I like. I spend my days promoting other people's work and don't find myself too filled with jealousy (occasionally though you have to be incredulous about some of the shit that floats its way to the top).
So I am inclined to agree with Derek that it is kind of odd to study writing as a profession. One can always find the time to produce work outside of their 9-5 without having to be absorbed in its clutches. As much as I hate that reality, it is possible, and I've at least proven this to myself in the past year, and I have people like Derek to thank for. My problem, which I feel may be a generational symptom, is an interest in too many venues & ventures. I would not mind finding a focus elsewhere, like Wallace Stevens and produce work on the side or to dictate to my secretary, but I'm not sure what that focus may be. Maybe I should read a biography of Wallace Stevens.
This, of course, is the New England pragmatic side of myself talking. I also feel one should study what they love. Ideally, I would write all day if possible (which a teaching degree at a college level earned through graduate school certainly affords more than most other profession I can think of), but I find myself worried by monetary needs. I have anxiety. It can be bad. This may be why I can only write short short stories, because I am worrying about what will come next. But who knows. I might have a dick in me (the Moby kind). But I do respect the well rounded individual, however they may come. It will only take the ability in convincing myself that to write on the side is not totally a waste of my time or effort.

I had a thought this morning. I was envisioning boring crass scenarios, where you imagine small, awkward moments of social situations. Do you do this? When you imagine getting into bite sized skirmishes with your boss or co workers or people on the street. I thought about how these are all parts of my imagination, and this is what my imagination does now for a living (this is why I think people listen to music on headphones so much, to replace their minds).
I used to imagine dragon rides and war stories and situations that would make me run full speed like a ostrich around in a yard. I am talking about being a kid.
As we get older our imaginations turn into something so mundane and boring, it is no wonder I make weird scenarios on a page. I don't know why more people don't do this. It should be a part of therapy, or an daily act to keep good humor. When I find myself walking down the street and thinking about the guy I jut past who grazed my shoulder with his fucking elbow, I will do as I did this morning and think about riding a dragon. You should try it. It helps.

2 comments:

BLAKE BUTLER said...

really good post. studying writing is weird. you learn a lot more reading and doing. i spent more time in my MFA backtracking than making good i think. i threw out everything i wrote during those two years. at the same time, though, intense and forced focus over that length of times has to have an effect. i don't regret going. i am glad i did: for some reason it took that experience to make me realize what i want to do had little to do with other things.

excited to see you in sleepingfish. awesome.

peter b. said...

good post indeed. I too blew off/breezed through my undergrad shit. i don't know if any school would accept me if i did decide i wanted to go back and study writing. and if i'd want to be surrounded by a bunch of asshole writers. i hate having to do something. sooner or later. i've been thinking about getting a job at the post office.