Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sketchbook page
School starts again on Tuesday, so all those romantic thoughts I've had about getting all this posting and reading and writing and painting and creating and living done over break are soon to become romantic thoughts that bore no fruit, no fruit that burst forth with no sweet nectar. Alas. I mean, it's not all a wash, I've nearly filled a sketchbook, at least. I've come to respect the fact--if no other fact--that what I thought of as "idly wasting time doodling nonsense" when I was a kid (though perhaps not in those words) can actually be a completely valid activity for a grown adult to partake in. That's something. It's a whole sketchbook I wouldn't have otherwise filled at any other point in my life. I've even started trying to draw real things, something I've always sort of thought it would be nice to do but never got past the "not actually trying at all" stage of the thing. I can do a pretty good tabletop now. Legs are a bit rough though. And um, a raisin box, a decent raisin box, so long as you're not looking for the graphic elements. And, uh, I have a moderately acceptable rendition of Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day, but I mean, come on, how can one man draw that which contains all things? Conundrum. Maybe tomorrow I'll move on to cylindrical objects in a desperate bid to fill up the last few pages of the book before the next class begins. Or maybe I'll use the night to actually read a little Proust. Which, I mean, at this rate, this is looking to be my slowest reading year ever. Terrible. Well, not terrible. Maybe. Anyway, Proust or soup cans?

Sketchbook page
The next class, the one that will be further drawing my attention away from all things bookish, is off the graphic design path, being a three-dimensional design class (as in objects in space, not funky-glasses-and-popcorn), which ought to be great fun. I mean, at least, I think it will be interesting, to be in a situation I really have no business in, to be pushed creatively in a way I've never much before expected to be pushed, all to see what comes out on the other end. Before going back to the business at hand of learning more about what makes for good line spacing and how to get rid of zits in photoshop. I hear there's money in that sort of thing.

Sketchbook page
Still, while I'm doing this, I'm fairly conscious of all the other stuff I want to be doing--Proust, getting around to getting back around to working on something involving words that create stories in the minds of hypothetical readers, inventing my money-cloning device--that I probably use class and work and sleep as excuses as to why I'm not doing them when in reality I'm mostly just more inclined to spend every spare waking moment staring out windows or trying to level up so I can get the princess and win the game. It's the kind of situation that's got me actually (thinking about how many times in this post I've used the word "actually") thinking about investigating some of those Getting Things Done philosophy system 43 folders-y things, the kind of thing I've typically thought of as being the sort of thing that self-important hacks do so they can strut around with their chests puffed out as they talk about how many things they get done all the time. I don't know. Ironically, it's probably just one more thing I'll spend more time thinking about doing than actually doing. Still, though, I have to at least admit, my goals have gotten more ambitious, and I am doing some things right, or at least, some of what I'm doing feels right. So. I might not have 60 percent of what I need, yet, but. Something.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Yr memory's a sucker

For no other reason than that I'm pretty sure I don't want that last post to be the last post, because seriously how lame would that be, I'll note that out of the thousand books that I'd considered for the role of being the first book I read this year, including but not limited to every book ever, I opted last night, in a post-hung-over, pre-Grand Theft Auto IV session grayish haze, to start with Proust. Which I'd seriously intended to do all of in 2008. Hilarity, kids! I figured it was either that or I finally finish off that Summer of Dostoevsky '06 project. Timelines, kids! Which makes me say that I'm not committing to any particular amount of Proust this year. Of course, I also say that if I do actually just do the whole thing in one go, the experience will at least have the curious effect of making Bolaño's 2666 look positively snack-sized in comparison, and therefore all the more inviting, or at least plausible. Or maybe just possible. Jokes about the masterstrokes of dead legends, kids!

I won't do much of any of Proust at the rate I went last night--ten pages over the course of an hour or two will not be the way to go, however much fun making sandwiches, playing with the cat, and sitting on the couch staring at the wall like a brain-dead turnip may be--but I will say this: if there were ever ten pages to be read after drinking until four in the morning before sleeping for five hours on a floor, Proust's fit the bill most tight (alright!). That noise makes sleeping and waking and thinking feel like the ultimate acid trip. Time and space, time and space. I'm in a chair, I'm in a room, I'm your brains. BRAINS.
Alright. Let's get this nonsense out of the way right off. And I'll warn you up-front: I ain't proofreading this, because "editing" this post would probably mean deleting this is gut-struck self-disgust. Buyer, be warned.


A fellow blogger recently asked me if I ever think about quitting blogging. My response was, and the truth is, that lately, I assume every post is my last. For whatever reasons. Lack of interest, lack of time, lack of quality, lack of mattering (or a feeling of mattering), all the usual blogger hand-wringing. Fact is, I probably actually have quit several times in the last year. I didn't say so, because I knew I was probably lying to myself, which is either better or worse than lying to you.

What has kept me coming back is the recognition that whatever post I last posted probably sucked and that when the archivists come along to pass judgment on you and I, that last post would be a horrible final note. Like ending a symphony with the back firing of a lawn mower. (A symphony, in my case, composed mostly of hand-powered mowers and downed telephone wires, but what have you.)

So I've kind of been in this not-sure-where-I'm-coming-from, not-sure-where-I'm-going-to limbo for a while now. Sure, I'm still reading, but maybe not as much as I have in previous years, and I'm certainly not saying as much about what I'm reading. Facts.

So then John Ettore added a comment to my now previously most recent post (a post which, really, could have been a not-so-bad closing note for the blog--an uptick of anticipation is certainly nothing bad), and his comment--and compliment--had the remarkable effect of reminding me of why I bothered getting into blogging in the first place. (Or at least, I assume--I went back to the first post to this blog, read a couple lines of it, made myself ill, and closed the tab. I got the sense that I didn't really start this as a book blog, though a book blog is what this blog quickly became. Also I noticed that that first post was barely almost four years ago, noticed that I referred to another online journal of mine in that post, a journal which at that time had reached the thousand post mark, and then I noticed that this blog is approaching the thousand post mark, and I got more ill, and I actually went back and re-opened the tab just to close it again.)

Point being, what John reminded me is, and what that reason for blogging is, is that I've got a passion for fiction and that that's something other people ought to know about. Which, in its plump simplicity, is enough to convince me not to shut this thing down for at least a while longer yet. Lucky you, you guys! Right? Am I right?

Don't answer that.

Of course, none of that does anything to nullify or eliminate any of the sources of gut-wrenching guilt that accompany every half-hearted post, every one-line entry, every radio-silent week (or two) (or three). But what it does do is it leaves the door open for a whole-hearted post to follow that shitty one, for a multiple-paragraph entry to bite the ankle of the short-stack post that preceded it, for a burst of music and voice to dissipate, for a spell, the long-held static fattening the airwaves. What it means is that there's more chance than zero chance that some of what's in my head might make someone reach for a book that they might not have reached for otherwise. What it means is that, at least every now and then, I'm letting my blind, dumb, super-sized passion guide my hand, and that every now and then, it's doing so so I do something that, in my gut, at least feels moderately important, and, in its best moments, both fulfilling and enjoyable. Hopefully for at least one or two other people than me. What this does not mean, on the other hand, is that I've got to start writing finely-tuned 5,000 word critical expositions, or that I've got to start podcasting, or that I need to start doing feature-length interviews with famous people I'd rather shit my pants than sit in a room (for sitting in a room with famous people is likely to make me simply up and shit my pants, and in the choice of both or one, kids, I choose the one). That's a bunch of stuff I'd do, sure, if I didn't have all this other stuff I like to do, such as work for a living (well, okay) and go to school (I can haz graphic design skilz!) and look out windows (oh, shiny). That's also stuff I'd do if I were trying to "make it." Whatever "it" is, I think I'm cool without it, because I've already got what I've got and I think with the right approach, that can be just jim dandy.

Aw, heartfelt, I know. I'll stop now. But, to PowerPoint it up for those of you who skip to the end (as I often do), here's the deal:
  • I'm doing this thing

  • I'm doing other things too

  • You do the voodoo you do

  • Cool