by Samuel Wagan Watson
In the past few weeks I was hoping that, as a weekly Blogger for Southerly, I’d be able to do something for my writing. I mean, this is a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful, but I’m still obsessing that somewhere in my journey I missed the turn-off? I thought I would have found my way by now and be more content with the end product in my daily work. But no…I don’t feel I’m even close yet! I was also determined to hand some work into my publisher this week and that’s just not going to happen…
“You shouldn’t write if you can’t write…”
Hemingway’s advice to an aspiring writer is quite rational. If you can’t write, don’t pick up the pen and attempt to forge on with a manuscript and possibly ruin what you have begun. My daily journal to this date also looks about as enticing as the menu in a greasy-spoon diner. I have the inspiration and the ability to publish certain things; it’s not like I’m writing in a vacuum. Time is wearing thin in the year though. I have three commissions basically underway and yet I can’t seem to put a dint in those assignments either.
When I worked in radio, the writing assignments were not humungous bodies of work. Almost everything I conceived had to fit into a 2-miunte time-slot. Completing community service announcements, though, is not as easy as it sounds and there was the occasional snag. I challenge anyone to come up with a nice, catchy little message about the ailments of streptococcus for a 90 second time slot! I relish the exercise of coming up with ideas that are original and innovative. It’s just the fact that I still hit a wall when interpreting and articulating those ideas from my mind into eloquent text. If I followed Hemingway’s advice at all on a daily basis I would never reach the end of a sentence.
There is a certain buzz everyone should experience at the moment creativity peaks. I’d never encourage anyone to stop writing, even if the writing is really bad it could maybe use the help of another medium to deliver an attractive vision. I dabbled with graphic design and filmmaking as a younger person and these were two career paths that began with me sinking a lot of money for much ado about nothing. I enjoyed drawing as a kid but never possessed the skill to create anything more than pop-culture/garage art for family friends. And I didn’t understand why a producer in Queensland wouldn’t trust a stupid kid like me with a $90,000 camera? I became a handy Props co-ordinator in the end but finally gave up dabbling with film all together once my writing took off.
The point I’m trying to make is that there is always more than one path to achieve your goal. I just always happen to travel the rocky road instead of the nicely sealed highway. So tonight, I went back to my journals and began spinning some flash fiction…
[I started taking all of my dirty words to this guy. He had a dim room in the back of some real estate where the text could be laundered into clean, crisp sentences. The poor light in the abode gave me little sway to see this surly chap’s face, and maybe it saved us both the applications of mutual prejudice…]
Having just now just now seeded the concept of a dodgy bloke who launders dirty words, I’ll sculpt until it becomes something. Of course, the concept has nothing to do with any of the other writing priorities I have scheduled. If I keep developing this into some nice tight prose though I may launder the scrabble in my own mind.
I am very thankful for the opportunity and support Southerly has gifted me on this residency. Sadly I’ve drawn the conclusion that I don’t possess the metal to be a regular blogger yet, and that the muse of a publishing opportunity hasn’t enabled me to write entries that I feel should have really seduced an audience.
Ironically and in closing, it is one of the key virtues of writing for a storyteller to confidently print the words: THE END. This is the final piece of a textual jigsaw, but of course, for many writers this is merely a customary addendum. Although I’ve published extensively, there are only a handful of poems in my folio that I believe I’ve ever truly finished, and although the journey of writing is itself a destination I quite often find myself in a tunnel without light at either end.