Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wrangling Me

There's a marvelous essay on writing in Brooklyn in today's Times. (I especially loved The Warriors as an updated Odyssey.)

And it could be about anywhere or any movement. "What's it like to write xyz" can pretty much be answered the same at any point in time. Writing is not glamorous. Unless you think it's cool when innermost thoughts become public domain, to be dismissed or dissected on a whim. Unless you think working in your pajamas is cutting edge.

You experience loneliness and self-doubt. You spend long hours procrastinating and then longer hours trying to catch up. You don't see friends to the point when you nearly lose them. You don't prioritize things that are good for you, like going to the gym or hiking Mt. Tammany. Your personal manias become inflated within the space of your own skull, with no outside influences to temper them.

Writing in the jungle of Uganda was much like writing in my apartment in Namibia or the hostel in Cape Town. Writing on Avenue B a lot like writing in Hamilton Park. Me. Me squared. Me unfiltered. And my pal/enemy, the evil, miraculous laptop.

The view is the same no matter where I am. And as for being somewhere with a literary community, well, if I spent all my time shooting the breeze over coffee, when would I write?

My current writer's community is virtual. I miss when Yancey, Ro and I were all freelance. Yancey as an illustrator, Roberta as a designer, and me as a comic book colorist and book writer. Back then, we'd all sneak away to the cafe for afternoon coffee. One of those afternoons involved the topic: "What should I title my Africa book?" As I threw out phrases, I knew I was onto something when I said "Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik" and watched Roberta crack up.

I haven't written anything since the Antarctica article. I've been slightly numb for the winter, and slacked off on the blog. And I haven't touched the book proposal since November. I blame the day job, the hibernation season, the half-assed attempts at a social life, and my own brain for being distracted when I used to be much better at fighting back.

And that simple acknowledgement is probably all I need. I've been acting lame. There. It's said. I may not be cool! hip! edgy! enough to be a Brooklyn writer (I have the contrary gene that inhibits my ability to participate in things declared cool by pop culture, and yes, I know this is stupid), but I can open the damn document and finish it.

Gotta go. I have work to do.


detroit dog said...


I am sitting here in my comfy cozy Nautica pj's. Being a writer is obviously like being an artist. (My skull will confirm this.)

Now, I must put down my coffee, get the laptop off me, shower (it's noon), and go create.

Or something.

Marie said...

When I was selling my condo in late 2006, I *had* to get up, showered, out of my pajamas, and spiff up the place by 9 a.m. every day. Even on Sundays. Especially on Sundays. At any point, a real estate agent could drop by.

Enforced discipline was good for me.

I too, am in my pajamas and unshowered on a Sunday at noon. Must work on my productivity!

detroit dog said...

Read the Times article earlier. It's hilarious. And so true. It's been 10 years since I lived in Brooklyn, but there were writers all around me. When I left, the big thing was John Turturro sightings at the coffee shop - laptop and coffee at hand.

Read your article, too. I've often dreamed of going to Galapagos or somewhere distant, and know that I never will. I think some places should be left alone, that we don't need to know everything. (I'm a snob.) Still, I just had to click on that link to the artist/writer program. :-D

Marie said...

The complications in the "leave it alone" part come with the saving it part. Without tourists, there would probably not be any mountain gorillas left in Rwanda-Uganda-Congo. But with too many tourists, it's overkill. Galapagos... Antarctica... awareness saves these places, but too many tourists damage them. What to do? Visit it by lottery? I don't really have any answers. I never do. Just more questions.

Anonymous said...

I have my doubts about eco-tourism. We need to consume less, but also we want to travel. Maybe it's irreconcilable. M

Brett said...

That just gives the rest of us Brooklyn writers a bad rap.

Marie said...

Brett, you are SO trendy.

Stuart Moore said...

Thanks for the link. I love the way that article starts off sounding like a typical stupid Times piece on the literary scene, and gradually descends into deliberately hilarious blathering about THE WARRIORS by the end. It's pretty subversive, in a way. And it made me laugh really, really hard.

I can't write at home all the time. Coffee shops are essential. I've found an incredible place in DUMBO now.