Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kill the Watcher

The question always arises as to whether you want to be a writer or you simply love to write. Of course, questions like that are dichotomies and I much prefer continuums. I suppose I fall someplace between the two extremes. I don't think I can say that I love to write, not yet anyway, although I could say I want to write. It brings to mind my youth, after I had moved in with my family to a location different than the one I had grown up in. The new location took me where I didn't have any friends and there were no nearby neighbors, so I had a lot of time on my hands and my father had jobs for me to do if I wanted to do them. I did. At first, I wasn't very good at what he wanted me to do, and I didn't like it that much. As time went on, and I exerted myself, I got better at the tasks and I began to like it. I suppose writing to be like that. Now, it just so happens, I've been at it a while now, however, to some degree or another, because of work or other things I was attending to, including many distractions, I never focused enough on the process and the actual exercise of writing. I've written a lot, a book on taxes for writers and artisans and a novel of over 400 pages, so I'm no beginner. But in a sense, as a writer, I feel like I am.

The fellow whose book I'm reading --- well, one of them; it was written by two men --- was more like I am. He didn't have a compulsion to write. It took some doing for him, kind of like it has for me. He indicates that at first he hated individuals who have that innate compulsion and desire and, perhaps, talent. Actually, he says he and beat them. He says as a child he composed stories in his head but he didn't like to get them down on paper. I can identify with that. Well, I can to some degree. I'm not sure I ever liked to compose stories in my head that much. I've thought a lot about that and I don't think I did. There might have been a time when I was quite young that I like to do that, playing with the cars and toys in the sand, but after that I didn't do it that much at all.

There were times off and on when I tried to journalize my thoughts --- to keep a diary --- but I was never successful. I'd start out gangbusters and then peter out. I always seem to do pretty good in the subject of English, however. I seem to remember that I did alright writing essays and short stories and the like. I always got Bs or better, even when I didn't always finish my homework and, especiallystudy my spelling words. I even did alright on vocabulary tests because I always made the effort to look words up and create my own list of words to learn and then studied the words on it.

The author tells about a conversation he had with a friend that he describes as loose and unstructured when he realized that hour after hour of conversation had yielded them significant insights about the topic they were discussing. And he realized that they had been trying to do that; it had just happened. They had done it by merely saying things off the cuff, things that they haven't analyzed and nudged here and there to get just right. They had simply talk with a degree of sincerity and openness to each other. He learned from that to concentrate on the process and not the resulting piece.

The assignment today is to address the internal critic, the Watcher, and tell him what I think.

Dear Watcher,

I don't want to be too harsh to you. You have caused me some grief but I recognize some value also in what you do. In fact, I suppose I have valued what you do more than perhaps I should have. Perhaps I should give this other a try, and let you sit on the sidelines for a while and watch. Then call you up after I have had my way without your interference to help me out. What do you think about that? Can he do that? That's, I think, what I want to do. To put you out of the way and let myself go. Deal? Why am I asking you? I guess, because I have great respect for you. But for now, let's do it my way, this new way.

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