09 January 2012

3 this is the problem

i'm never going to finish the stupid beast of a damned thing on religion that i spent all of 2011 writing and never dreamed i'd still be laboring over come 2012. (the thing of which the six months of religion posts are all a part.)

i'm never going to finish it because i am very good at moments.

in writing, i can take you into a situation and plop you down in it and give you such a sense of the citronella candles and the way the skin curled back from the blood on my split knee when i was eight that you'll wrinkle your nose at the sickly sweet scent and unconsciously rub your kneecap to make sure the skin's still there and the gravel's cleared out.

this is what i do. i'm aware i do it and that i do it a lot. 

recognizing it as the manipulative, passive-aggressive, lazy tactic that it is, i'm deeply ambivalent about its value as a literary gift. but it's what i'm good at and so i continue to rely on it. 

i know this, but in the way that we writers convince ourselves we're not nearly so transparent as we really are, i didn't know other people knew i did this until sensei mentioned it at the last naked lady bar.

so yes, manipulating every single concrete detail at my disposal, i can take you into a moment. people are apparently aware of this already, so maybe they've identified my handicap as well. 

that i'm total shite at handling the emotions of the moment i put you in.

like, hell no, nuh-uh.

i'm only just realizing this. that, in writing, i lay down concrete details like so many flowers in a bouquet and that this is a form of avoidance, a way of tricking the reader into feeling an emotion that i myself do not want to feel or admit or explore and/or cannot put into words. it's a trick that has carried me a long, long way. 

but if the stupid beast of a thing about religion is ever going to be finished, i've got to put emotion into words. sensei and the dane have been telling me this for eight months. that this is what's missing. this is why it isn't working. it's why i can't get to those last three sentences that i've had from the first.

it is, of course, the one thing i absolutely cannot and do not want to do. 

there is always, in my writing, a distance between what i feel and what it feels like. i ignore one and hammer the hell out of the other. because it's easier to wrap words around physical sensations, around the pain in a hunched back and bent knees and the feeling of bare skin on a cold, wood floor.

it's a cheap trick. my giving you every single concrete detail about the act of kneeled prayer. a coward's way out of confronting the emotions that brought me to my knees. 


Osutein said...

Actually, I think you're normally pretty good at infusing those moments with emotion, just not *that* moment.

The Whiffer said...

hmmm. no babies thrown out with bath water please. perhaps you've identified something you find challenging, something to work on but please, I beg you, on my knees if you so wish, don't start fucking with your natural flair for detail and creating the world of the moments you write about.
As a reader there is always room for me to feel something cause you leave room.

oline said...

don't fret, i'm not fucking with anything :)