On Writing Practice

How to think about writing practice:

Yes, but why practice? (October 16, 2021)

The expectation is, or perhaps the assumption is, that once you’re good at something, you no longer need to practice in order to develop or refine the skills, in the same way as when you are learning. Sure, there is a reality to that, a recognition that drop-steps have become natural for the wrestler, that starts have become natural for the sprinter, that the G-7 major chord has become second nature for the pianist, that the sales lady no longer needs to worry how to close the deal, because she’s been doing it so long – so well – so flawlessly.

But the idea of not practicing [illegible] will be refuted by every professional, in every [illegible] industry, at every point. I heard an anecdote from a pianist, about practicing every day. Why not? he said. “If I miss a day, I can tell. If I miss two days, my wife can tell. And if I miss three days, the audience can tell.” What top tier actor would no longer rehearse lines? What politician would just assume that their presentation / speech / debate would go off without a hitch, exactly as planned, requiring zero need for alternatives or adjustments or preparations for pivots to a different focus?

So why practice? Who do writing practice, if I already know how to write? Why do this if nobody will ever see it? Why pursue? Why attempt? Why push forever and ever against incurring the wrath of fatigued brain, bored mind, exhaustion, spiteful muscles fighting me? Why do the same thing over and over and over, filling page after page after page, emptying pen after pen after pen, checking off mark after mark after mark, understanding so little of what I’ve scrawled, making no new ideas, seeing no advancement of my portfolio, spending no time making something for them (whoever they may be), and doing something that, to the outside observer would appear nothing more than a complete waste of time time?

Because.

Because I like it. Because I love it. Because it is exploration as much as it is preparation. It is a cleansing, a renewal and refreshment of me.

Yes,. there is a sense of duty here. Duty to the muse. Duty to myself and the promises I made, the challenge I accepted. More, though, there is a big, great, ‘Fuck you’ to all those who say something must be commercible to be viable. Screw that. Nobody’s going to see this. Good. So I write.

I write for me. I write for my old self, ten, twenty, thirty years ago, who had much to say but no audience. He held [illegible] ideas inside, and now they come out. Well done.

I write for my future self, a month from now, a year, ten, twenty, when I will look back at this time, this moment, and be proud of myself. Proud that I did not give into the minimalist thinking, proud that I did not [illegible] myself to a dollar amount. Proud that I did what I enjoyed; what I appreciated. Proud that I lived.

Proud that I made art – Good, great, shitty, awesome, awe-inspiring, mundane, existentialist, traditional, cutting-edge art.

And that is why I practice.

Writing Practice – 4/11/2018 – Why I Write

A commentor asked me, “Is that not why you write?”

So, why do I write? The perpetual question. I ask this of myself ten times a year, at least. I never been able to answer it to my own satisfaction.

 

I write because I love the feeling of a pen in my hand – I love the feeling of creating, of bringing something out of nothing. I love the idea that my pen is a pregnancy, and my moving it along the page is a birthing, a resurrection, an excavation discovering hidden treasures beneath the surface.

See that blank page down there? Below these lines? That is opportunity. That is promise. That is fear, and hope together in one. That is a myriad of possibilities waiting to be explored, and as I cover the surface, as I bleed out ink onto crushed tree pulp, as I hesitate and start up again, as I continue to seek for the letting go, all of those possibilities that weren’t realized disappear – they break off and float out into the ether, waiting perhaps to be captured by some other stroke of another pen some other time. But – more likely, to continue to drift into the infinity, to expand and fall away, not down, but “away”, for they are further and further from each other.

Farther and farther from everything else, out beyond the reach, out into the solitude, out into the expanse, out into the void, where nothing is, where nothing was, where nothing came and nothing is going. Out there, it is alone, and it is forever alone. Even darkness abandons such places, not to be replaced with light, but taking with it the idea of light, the memory of light, the conception that there could be something other than darkness, not even so much that it is gone but that it never was, never could be, never would have been, never even existed as a potentiality in the minds of the greatest theoreticians this world has ever known.

So – I write to save. I write to redeem at least one idea, one experience, from the cold, pointless, suffering exhaustive death of obscurity, the drifted-away-forever experience. I allow all the other potentialities to suffer. I cannot save them all.

I cannot even save two. But I can save one. I can bring it to the surface. I can expose and create and birth it once, and for myself, and for others, and as a result, I can make the slightest recompense, the single absolution of regret for all those other ideas which I abandoned, with my tiny, insincere, insecure “Sorry, but I just couldn’t,” and they will drift away, they will expand and wave goodbye, resigned to their fates, and I will cradle my idea to my chest. I will love and cherish my actuality, and I will mourn those potentialities, for a moment, for a day, until they are so unceremoniously replaced, once again, with the next –

blank –

sheet.