we used to be smarter

By we I mean me.

And I’m not just saying that. I think it’s true. I think I worked very hard to become intelligent when I was younger, and since then it’s all been a slow slide into whatever my brain is now.

The thing is, I don’t really think anymore. I mean, I do, of course, but I never just sit down and think thoughts. I used to spend all day holed up in my room thinking, and then all night staring at my ceiling or out the window, thinking. I used to think so much I don’t know what else I did with my time.

I think it made me smarter too. I loved playing with difficult ideas and challenging myself, challenging my beliefs about life, morality, and all kinds of other things. Now, though.

I feel that my brain is in a state of rest until challenged. It’s like I keep my brain in a cupboard and it only gets use when someone knocks and lets me out.

I think it makes my thinking reactionary. I can form thoughts pretty quickly and wholly, but that’s all because other people are throwing things at me. It’s more like I’m catching light and redirecting it, or refracting it. I no longer generate light.

I’m a cave.

I actually don’t see this as a negative thing, or even a backwards step. I think it’s progress.

Thinking thoughts never made me happy and never got me anywhere. It’s when I started doing things that my life became worth living. Foolish people feigning at insight will tell you that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but I find that examining your every move, thought, and opinion is rather destructive. Deconstructing reality at every turn doesn’t grant you any deeper sight or meaning. It just means you’re a wrecking ball.

I chose to stop being a wrecking ball several years ago. Maybe even seven years ago, give or take. I’ve had my share of unahppiness since then, but I’ve found myself to be much happier.

There’s a lot of ideas, ideologies, systems, structures, and opinions that I’m constantly fighting against, battling with both hands and feet, gnashing my teeth, but I don’t scorch my self.

But probably I’m being absurd. I don’t think that thinking is bad or a disservice, but I think it can lead to some real damage, not just personally, but interpersonally, and socially. Western culture has become so obsessed with tearing things apart, delineating and separating every possible facet until we’re all these neatly cut and differentiated categories that can be shuffled. People will tell you that this makes the world easier to handle, or better, but I think it’s extremely destructive, especially since there’s no push from the other direction, to show how similar we are, how the same we are, how whole and beautiful we are, even in our squalor.

But I wanted to talk about writing, because I think the same thing happened, though in a different way.

I used to be in love with the sentence. I wanted to be Virginia Woolf, because who wouldn’t want to write sentences like that? And so I worked very hard to push my sentences in that direction. While I’m glad I did it, I found it to be ultimately useless.

I mean, not useless, but that’s not how I want to write. That was fine for her because she’s Virginia Woolf, but I’ll never be Virginia Woolf, so there was no point in trying to be.

So I re-taught myself how to write. I talked about this a bit a while ago. I’d find the link, but it’s probably on the page like five posts down. Anyrate, I keep reteaching myself how to write, and I think it’s a very positive thing, but I think this has been a progress towards simplification of prose. I took the complexity of those old sentences and pushed that into complex novel structures.

Twilight of the Wolves was actually meant to be my simplest prose piece, but I think I failed there. And this goes back to me not being smart anymore: I honestly don’t know how to judge my writing anymore.

I don’t think I know how to judge any writing.

Spending so much time reading difficult literature and trying to write it has skewed my perceptions, I think, and so now it’s more of a gut reaction to literature, and I think that’s translated into me aiming more for your gut and heart, rather than your brain. Though, hopefully, the ideas are still interesting and coming through, but they come in a different register.

I bury the ideas and try to demonstrate them with drama. There are intellectual writers who are very good, and I even know some. Phil Jourdan and Kyle Muntz are great intellectual writers, where the idea is on the surface but also deep as an ocean, so you can peer into the idea and see it ever expanding.

I throw a lot of ideas into every novel. Probably too many, which is why I cheat and use multiple narrators, because then I can make every novel a kitchen sink novel, which is what I do. But hopefully those ideas are only beneath the surface, and you can enjoy the novel without ever considering them. But, if you’re willing to dig a bit deeper, there’s [ideally] an ocean of ideas swarming there.

Twilight of the Wolves is very much meant to be that way. There are a lot of ideas on the surface, but hopefully people dig into the ones underneath.

It’s hard to know if you’re good at these things.

I just can’t tell anymore.

But I do like what I write, and I think I’m getting better, though I’m growing very differently than what I originally envisioned. Ghostwriting has helped that, too, as I’ve had to learn to write simpler. I’m writing a screenplay for a romance right now, and I keep wanting to twist the logic and structure, turn things inside out, and cheat some magic in there, but it’s a very strong exercise, learning to strip yourself naked and rely on action, on motion, emotion.

But, yeah, just some rambling.

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