Thursday, January 13, 2011

One step closer is also one step farther away

Note: Part 7 of my 323 part series using songs on my iPod as a jumping off point.

Song: One Step Closer
Artist: U2

There's nothing more intimidating for a writer than a blank screen with the blinking cursor in the top left just flashing again and again, waiting for you to fill the page with your thoughts. Well, actually, you're filling the page with symbols that, on their own, mean nothing, but we have ascribed them meanings so that we're able to communicate through the written word. And actually, there are probably a lot of things more intimidating than a blank page. Your boss, your in-laws, that cat that walks around always thinking he's better than you, the roid-head who keeps hitting on your girlfriend to name a few. 

But eventually you start writing. You have a general idea or a theme in mind, maybe a few plot twists. Gotta, gotta compelling protagonist? Yeah? Gotta obstacle for him to overcome? Huh? Gotta story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh? Yea, talking about that 3 years ago. Been working on that the whole time? Nice little narrative? Beginning, middle, and end? Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends? At the end your main character is richer from the experience? Maybe a little bit of selective plagiarism . . . err . . . quoting from a Family Guy episode.

Or maybe you’re setting out to write a new sacred document for your religion of choice and decide you’re going to sell the information contained in that document as though you’re the reincarnation of a cult leader. Meanwhile, as you’re writing, a famous movie star locks himself in your close and despite the best efforts of his famous friends, he refuses to come out of the closet. However, you realize at the end of writing the prophetic words you realize that it’s all a scam and announce that to the world, only to have threats of a lawsuit leveled at you. Almost like the South Park episode on that topic.

It’s also possible that you’d want to turn your life around after winning $100,000 in a scratch off lotto ticket only to lose it when you run into the street to celebrate and get hit by a car and wind up in the hospital where you see Carson Daly talking about karma. You then realize that if you do good things, good things happen. Do bad things and bad things happen. So you make a list of all the bad things you’ve done and one by one you’re going to make up for all your mistakes. As you start doing that, you find the lotto ticket, so you keep working to cross things off your list, typically one a week except for summers when you retell stories of your previous tasks. Just like the show ‘My Name is Earl.’

I really miss My Name is Earl. It was a quirky little show that lost its way around season three when Earl went to jail rather than letting his ex-wife get her third strike. For the rest of the season, the writers seemed to realize they’d made a mistake and seemed to be working to get him out of jail, only to compound their mistake by having Earl lapse into a coma. It wasn’t until they finally got back to the basic premise of the show (crossing items off his list) did the show regain its footing, but by then its audience had migrated elsewhere, thus leading to its untimely cancellation.

 If you did any of those things when you stared at the blank page in front of you, you’d be one step closer than I am to coming up with something to write. Instead I’ll probably just end up rambling on and on about nothing in particular and you’ll end up regretting the time you spent here and I’ll apologize and we’ll just pretend this never happened and see what the next topic is and hope for something a little better.

Next Song: Tell the Truth
Artist: Eric Clapton

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