Every story is a ghost story. No, not every story is about the disembodied soul of a deceased relative who discovers agoraphobia in the afterlife and won’t leave the house. But every story is about a ghost, nevertheless, and about our relationship to ghosts, and the extent to which we are ghosts ourselves.
I believe that there are certain phases we all go through in the writing life. We all start by imitating the things we love – the books, the movies, whatever – and that goes on for a long, long time, until we get impatient with ourselves and decide that we need to start learning this…
We live in a broken world. We always have. There has never been a time in human history when things just fell seamlessly into place, when everybody got along, when things were as they appeared. The victories have always been partial, the glories always dependent on where you were standing at the time. Life is…
Normally I would sit down, clearly think out what I wanted to write here, maybe outline something basic, and get it all down just the way I wanted before hitting that Publish button. But this week’s different, and I’m in a different place, and so we’re just rolling on with the rolling on.
We live in a society that really, really likes its dreams. You see it everywhere, from the TV Lifestyles of Awesome to the much more subtle water cooler rumblings every time someone wistfully sketches out their lottery-winning plans. We make big decisions for the pretty pictures in our heads that get us through the day.
I can freely admit that the last entry was a bummer, and that someone trying to eke out a little motivation to keep writing might have read it and thought, damn, that guy sounds a little dark and down today. So this time I want to talk about the successes, or at least the lessons.
The thing about writing is that, from time to time, you must confront the simple fact that what you’re writing – and, perhaps, have always been writing – is shallow, boring tripe. Stories stitched together out of internalized cultural tropes that don’t have a whole lot to do with the weirdnesses of real life.
In this age of Bluetooth, I no longer get odd glances when I talk to myself in the car. I get contemptuous glares, as my traffic distractions are clearly going to kill us all. If people knew my secret shame, however, the chain-the-madman panic stares would never end.
Hi. My name is Robert Warren, and I’ve been writing professionally now for the better part of twenty years, and it occurred to me that you and I haven’t been properly introduced. Welcome. Glad to know you. There’s some drinks out in the kitchen, please make yourself comfortable and let’s chat.