I used to write a lot.
I would write songs and write thoughts and write shitty excuses for prose. In little black moleskins, on the backs of wrappers, scrap paper, on stacks and stacks of yellow foolscap. I have it all still… Shoved into folders and boxes, piles and piles of terrible gibberish. It’s cringe worthy mostly, but in the same way that old photos are… A snapshot of a younger, dumber you. On some drunken nights I will sit and pour through it, like I used to do with the collection of scraps my folks kept from our childhood. Beacons from the past.
But now I never write.
Two years ago, in the throes of a ‘productivity’ binge and reading the likes of David Allen and Seth Godin, I stumbled across 750 words.. A simple enough idea which nags you to write SOMETHING everyday…. Exercise the muscle…. I started again but it wasn’t the same.. It was forced, no more of the vomiting ideas and stories. Perhaps I was older and more cynical, analysing the thoughts before allowing them out…. Or perhaps I was just less crazy… and high. I tried to put together a novel I had been sitting on since 2007. The strange tale of two idiots who decide to travel as far north from London as possible, spending no money on travel or food, loaded up with chemicals and cheap wine. The journals from that trip are memorable polaroids. But trying to cram them into some sort of narrative? That involves effort, work… And the bloody characters would have to speak to each other at some stage, how to make them sound like anything but extremely cheap Elmore Leonard photocopies.. And what kind of pretentious fool writes a novel anyways…. So 750 words became Ctrl-C and V … Words from earlier, more productive nights… and then slowly it become nothing…
And still, every night at 7:00pm, for almost two years I got an email from 750 telling me politely that it was time for me to write something, NOW… It became almost reflexive deleting them as they appeared. Usually sitting with a glass of red, one eye on skype one eye on some waste of time. I never went in and tried to turn it off though. In the back of my head somewhere, I though perhaps TODAY I will get something down.. Ship, as Godin or Jobs would say… Obviously this is some analogy for some greater personal fault, which I choose to ignore with the same candour…. Can you ignore with candour?
Ahhh, but then on some mornings I will tack a task to my calendar begging that perhaps TODAY is the day and that I will get 750 good ones down. It gets ticked off or shoved on as quickly as the emails… Anyway, why the hell am I forcing myself to do something I obviously don’t want to… and yet pangs of guilt appear.
Back when I wrote a lot, I was lazy, drifting, anxious. I might be two of those on occasion these days but not lazy. That evil clock in the corner of my screen keeps ticking and there is another client to email or wave to catch, or podcast to listen too… Or are these just symptoms of a new laziness. Keeping the mind occupied 14 hours a day to avoid that scribbled mess that sits there, only a few layers back….
Instagram and Facebook didn’t exist when I used to find myself in a park with a logneck of sparkling and a few hours to kill with a bic and an empty page…. I had to go to the Library to use the internet to check my emails, once a week. Once a week? How many times do I check them now, 50 perhaps, a day! Ahhh how simple the world was back then (Sarcasm face)… and so the generations get sea sick and cough up green at the sight of new waves on the horizon. The world grows madder and we pretend to grow up and get serious, get loans, get prepared… and avoid some email from a robot in Palo Alto telling me I should be writing something at 7:00pm
It is a muscle though… that little run hurt. It took me too long and I will probably be sore tomorrow.. But a good sore. The ‘It hurts so good’ kind of sore. Maybe that is why I like looking back on those scribbles, wishing I had been more honest with my pen back then, promising to be, tomorrow.