Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Excuses and Explanations"

By Leslie Larsen

You've asked me to write so many times. Encouraged, cajoled and all but provided me with a pen. The problem is that, when I look in the mirror, I don't see what you see. Not a writer, certainly not that. A wannabe perhaps, scrawling bad poetry and ideas for books on the back of envelopes. Or perhaps a never was. Someone who knows that to be it you must do it. Definition by act, not unlike polygamy or murder. And I've read the books and listened to the advice: write something every day. But I don't and I'm not sure I even can. I'm more of a compulsive writer, like the person who fights getting sick, even though she knows it's inevitable, finally purging the thoughts that have been churning in her mind onto paper. So different from the person who knows not to fight the inevitable and just gets it over with, aided by a finger or syrup of ipecac.

I think the truth is, in many ways, I'm just a coward. It's not that I'm not a writer but if I allow the inevitable need to express myself or even facilitate it instead of fight it, what then? What if I find out that I'm no good? In a way it's easier to cling to a figment identity than risk losing the one skill I truly value and – in others – envy. So instead I look at the blog you set up, scan the weekly alt rag for contests and give you tepid excuses for not submitting. And I surreptitiously hang on the fringes of groups of people, afraid that if I try to gain full entry I'll find out that I just can't come up with the price of admission; I don't know the exchange rate for the coin of the realm.

Writer Leslie Larsen lives in Albany, New York with her cat Gilligan, the inspiration for much bad poetry. She keeps her passport up to date because, hey, you never know...


johanna said...

You say you can't write but your introduction to 'MY' Autobiography was eerily accurate. You say that you're a compulsive writer. That's the description that fits me to a tee. I used to say that I don't have writer's block, but writer's constipation. However, when I do get inspired,I can knock out some good stuff! It sounds like a network of writing procrastinators or a group for those who have the dreaded 'fear of writing' may be in order. This web sight is a big help and a great source for some terrific writers. Like you, I read the work of the others and sheepishly avoid my own contributions. You have made an impression, enough to get me to write something, even if it's just a short note to say that I COMPLETELY understand what you mean and I love your style. I'll tell you what I've been told (especially by Claudia, bless her heart) KEEP ON WRITING!That's good advice and I'll pass it back to you again. If you would be interested in a less anonymous system of support, let me know. I have an idea! We could have tea and bring pads and pens.I'm open to ideas and please remember one thing. I have TWO cats.:0)
Thank you!
Nancy Singer

ClaudiaR said...

So Nancy, and Leslie, I have had the great pleasure to write with both of you. I know how much talent simmers there...Yes, you want so much to write, and yes, you are so afraid to write. But there is power in numbers, isn't there? How about the two of you starting an Albany-area writing group, dedicated to putting pen to paper, say once every month? Anyone else interested?

Anonymous said...

Yow. I feel like I'm eavesdropping.

At the risk of seeming utterly unkind, I'm just not buying this, that the fear is about finding out that you're not any good at writing. And I'm certainly not buying that methaphor that the writing is vomit. Not for even a second.

Anybody who can write as well as this hasn't got anything to worry about except the worrying. And indulging it. Let the critics (including your internal one) say and do whatever they want. Ignore them. Just keep on going now that you've started, one foot in front of the other. When you get to the next crossroads, turn around, stick out your tongue at whatever you've left behind, give the one finger, underhand salute, bellow, "Can't catch me now," and then turn around and keep on going.