- Books, Literature, and Writing
The time collapse
It's friday afternoon, you're sitting down watching the last fifteen minutes of the clock tick by waiting for time to pass so you can leave, and something gets thrown down on the desk to be completed before you left for the day. You have no choice and you have to get it done. All of a sudden the deadline is in front of you and you bust your ass to get it done. Why do we feel so compelled to follow these deadlines as they're created for us? I think it is the deadline, which is concrete, that scares us. We all have deadlines in life. To be poetic, life itself, is a deadline. We have this one lifetime, amount of years unknown, to try and live our lives to the fullest...how many of us actually achieve everything we've wanted? I think the deadlines placed on ourselves daily are so scary because we have the chance to actually accomplish what needs to be done. It that daily sense, deadlines become our death that we can surpass. You have a single moment in front of you to make sure everything you want to be done, is done, and you can feel good about something. Between life and death there is no satisfaction. We have no idea if there is life after death, and therefore, we cannot feel accomplished about what we've achieved while on this earth.
How do deadlines affect us? They give us a sense of pressure. They tell us that we have this one moment where it's kind of like life or death (depending on the situation) and we have one shot to do this all. Deadlines make your work more efficient as you find quicker ways to accomplish the tasks you've set out to do. You suddenly realizing you're going faster than you ever knew you could and your work suddenly has a beautiful new shine to it. Is it your best work? Not always. But it's done and the sense of accomplish tends to trump all. Sometimes you have a chance to go back and edit these things and sometimes you don't. What's the best way to go about it? Quick and terribly? Or slowly and more correctly?
Personal Deadlines...can you do it?
I've often tried setting my own deadlines and I've never accomplished a damn thing while trying to do so. I've never been able to be like "Accomplish this by Friday!" and have that thing accomplished when Friday rolls around. I think it's impossible for someone to set their own deadline, and those who can, have accomplished more than me. I always want to be down to earth and have everything set in stone. I want to be able to accomplish all the things I have to accomplish and I simply have never been able to. I think it's hard. A human, I think, is naturally lazy...so if we have the chance to opt out of something and push it back until the next day we will do so. When someone gets home from work, they usually want a chance to relax instead of starting another job. If you view your writing as another job then you've encountered a problem.
From a love to a job...
I think there's a mistake being made in people going to school for writing. It's what countless people (myself included) have done. I went to school for English Literature and Professional Writing, and Screenwriting. This included countless creative writing classes in which my writing became another deadline. Writing used to be something worth enjoying. Writing would be something that was done for pleasure, to release feelings, and not associated with homework. I think going to school for writing takes that love, and that guilty pleasure, and turns it into just another chore one person has to take one. Without deadlines, writing just seems to flow from the fingertips, and the mind. Writing is a beautiful amount of words on the page and a release of feelings. Deadlines turn it into something that has to be accomplished. Writing becomes another job and something that has to be accomplished lest there be a consequence when something isn't accomplished. That amazing feeling of creating a poem or a short story, or anything, now becomes something that isn't good enough. Schooling causes one to focus on the flaws, to go back and begin the rewriting that tears the writing into bits and pieces, and to lose faith on the work you've produced. Schooling teaches us that nothing we do is perfect yet writing isn't made to be perfect. Writing to write (whether stories, plays, or poems, etc.) is supposed to be a beautiful imperfection. The imperfection is what makes each persons writing unique and individual. It is what allows us to stand apart from every other person who also chooses to write. How can the individuality stand out if we are taught to conform to some strange person who has decided that there should be a normal standard to that which we produce from our mind. Some of the most beautiful things make no sense, they don't have perfect grammar, and they certainly are nowhere near perfect. Emily Dickinson (for example) makes almost no sense at all. There is a certain way to analyze her work but there is no way of knowing what she meant 100% without have been in her mind next to her. Schooling takes that away from us, it teaches us to conform and lose our sense of individuality, which is the most depressing thing to realize.
Can you get it back?
Sometimes there's nothing you can do to find the love for your writing after it's been taken away from you. I think it takes a sense of brainwashing to undo what has been done. It's a matter of relearning how to write for the love of writing, whether it's by doing journal entires, or writing blogs, or even just throwing words on a page that make no sense and learning to see them as beautiful. Words are meant to beautiful. Words are meant to weave a story in front of your eyes, to weave pictures through your mind, and show a beautiful image. It's very hard to try and find that beauty again in the world. It takes years of brainwashing what has been pounded into your brain after years of schooling. It takes a long time to realize that teachers are WRONG. Not in the sense that they don't know what they're doing, or what is meant to be correct, but in the sense that teachers teach what they themselves are taught. They are hard coated to believe that writing has conformities and boundaries and walls, which is does not. What is that saying...those who cannot do, teach? That's a little cruel but it has some merit. I had a writing teacher tell me once that something was not believable. If it's not believable then how do we become so captivated with fantasy and science fiction? Because we want to believe they will come true, and we want a chance to escape from the reality we hold so dear. Anything is believable if you take the chance to tell the story correctly.
I was at a convention some amount of days ago talking to a sweet little old lady about being a writer, and the moment of writing...and she asked me why I had stopped. I explained to her the story about my thesis for my Master's degree and how my teacher crushed everything I thought was golden in front of me. This amazing elderly lady looked at me, paused for a moment, and said "F*** her!"
That has made all the difference.