Sunday, December 25, 2011

As Many Words as Possible at 5am on Boxing Day

Truman Capote wrote in his introduction to Music For Chameleons that he would sit down and write for five hours a day, so much writing that his friends would ask him why he was busy all the time.

In a PBS documentary on Woody Allen, he showed them his nightstand where he writes an observation every day on a slip of paper, and then puts it into a drawer. When he is ready to write, he pulls out one of the observations and begins with that idea and just goes with it.

For Christmas I got a couple notebooks, some rolls of duct tape, The Complete Stories of Truman Capote, a scarf, some money, The Best American Non-Required Reading of 2011, two sweaters, a vinyl LP of Charlie Rich's "Rollin' With The Flow", Band Aids, mistletoe, a wireless mouse and The Complete Poems of e.e. cummings.

I have a burn on my thumb that hasn't healed completely in the past couple of weeks. I've been doing a lot of "field work" (and by "field work" I mean having fun and hanging out with friends) and at night I try to write down ideas in my notebook but my thumb hurts too much to write with a pen.

I am taking this as a sign to start typing more and more every night. I am taking some pointers from Truman and Woody and going into a more intense writing regimen for the rest of the break. More blogging! More writing!

The sketch comedy show, 'Keets, was a success. We had a total of 15 people in my garage and they laughed a couple of times. My girlfriend's mom commented that she thought "it was like Saturday Night Live Junior." That night we had a lot of talented people inside our garage. We had Marcus who is a political science major and Mickey who designs clothing in LA. We had Alex who is extremely intelligent and is now applying for colleges, and Ysabel who is studying at Azusa. Everyone who was in our garage seemed to be on the road to glory. I have a theory that Pinole is the new Paris in the sense that all the great thinkers of tomorrow currently live in Pinole and that one day someone will read the newspaper and realize that a lot of influential people have their hometown in common.

But now it is five o'clock in the morning on Boxing Day, and I am up and wide awake worried out of my socks that I am not writing enough and I am seized by this urge to write a full length novel. I want to write four novels and a collection of short stories. I want to write a memoir, I want to write an investigative journalism article, I want to write a book on one subject, like on hip-hop, or a book on every single person who inspires me.

I am familiar with this feeling, the freak out feeling where I want to do everything. Where I scroll through all of my RSS feeds and I wonder "What the fuck am I doing with my life? I need to act now. I need to make something."

And it's tough to decide what I am going to make at 5:0o in the morning, but I cant go back to bed with my mind racing like this.

I went to my girlfriend's house today after celebrating Christmas with my family. I met her cousins, her aunt, and her uncle, and they proceeded to grill me with questions.

"What book are you currently reading?"
"What college do you go to?"
"What is your career path?"
For this question, I told them how much I want to write, how I want to write for The New Yorker or to report for This American Life. They nodded and then asked me about my classes at college.
"I'm taking Early Childhood Development." I said.
"Would you consider a career in that field?"
It was almost like they were unsatisfied with my life choice of being a writer, and instead were trying to groom me in another direction. No, I thought, I just told you what I want to do for a living.
"Yeah, I would consider it." I told them.
"What do you contribute to the relationship?"
"What are your intentions with our niece?"
"Boxers or briefs?"
They were half joking, half serious, and I had a good time trying to defend myself. In the end, they voted "yes" or "no" on whether they approved of me. The verdict: three yes, one undecided.

"Here's what I think," her uncle told me, "I like you. But I am not sure if I like you with my niece. But as long as she's happy, I am happy." I shook his hand. He and his family left.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat Pray Love", said in her TEDtalk that writing is a dangerous profession. Writers have a reputation for being manic depressives, and the death count is, in her words, "odious."

"...and what is it specifically about creative ventures that seems to make us really nervous about each other's mental health in a way that other careers kind of don't do, you know? Like my dad, for example, was a chemical engineer and I don't recall once in his 40 years of chemical engineering anybody asking him if he was afraid to be a chemical engineer, you know? It didn't -- 'that chemical engineering block John, how's it going?' It just didn't come up like that, you know?

I think writing is as serious of a career choice as deciding to become an chemical engineer. I work hard at what I do and I intend to work hard for the rest of my life at becoming a writer. I write every single day with no exception. Whether it is observations in my journal or e-mails about my day, I write every day.

And for Christmas my parents gave me three notebooks, and I know I will fill all of them. I need to fill all of them. Or else I will wake up in panic at five o'clock in the morning like I am now.

I am really enjoying my Christmas break. I am having fun, I am hanging out with people I love and miss. And I am realizing that under no circumstances will I ever give up writing or creating or performing. I will never stop doing stand-up, I will never stop scribbling in my journal. I would, quite honestly, lose my mind if I did so.

So this super-long, distracted blog post should probably be called "Thanks to My Thumb", which has made writing in my notebooks very difficult. The words just sort of built up inside me and I needed to release them somehow in some way.

And now it's almost six o'clock and I still can't sleep. I still feel like I haven't done enough.

Maye this is a panic attack.

Maybe it is fear.

Or maybe it's just my body's way of telling me that it is physiologically impossible for me to ever stop writing.

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