This is a disjointed post today. Writing is so weird. You come up with ideas, and then you articulate them into words and sentences to form thoughts and images, to extract meaning and crystallize human emotions with a witty phrase or retort. You know what’s also weird? When other writers have to create a role for themselves. Examples: She’s the crazy goth girl who writes poetry about cutting and bleeding. He’s the damaged emotional emo nerd who uses comic book semantics while fighting off robots from outer space; She’s the fucked up girl with daddy issues whose anger alienates everyone, including her readers, so she pontificates about how society sucks.
Oh reader and fellow writer, there’s a little bit of that in all of us. Especially if we’re young or mid-aged precious little snowflakes stuck in the snowstorm of life. Try plowing that snowdrift.
Tapping once again into Hannah Horvath, our flawed millennial heroine – through her, we see how artists and writers can paint ourselves into a persona. Hannah’s Iowa world is filled with writers who are self critical beings projecting their insecurities upon others to sustain their own frail confidence. It’s a microcosmic version of what most writers face every day – not only in classes or workshops – but in the comment section of Gawker, Jezebel or any website where thoughts and reactions unleash a spillage of nitpicky, unnecessary, snarky, hard edged commentary written by someone hiding behind an anonymous screen name. Today’s writing is not only a creative process explaining the world around us and existential conundrums. Today’s writing can sometimes be a meeting of trolls with a platform to crap upon anyone who makes a typo. You have to have skin as thick as a brick to let these blogger foes get to you.
This is why I’m conflicted over Hannah’s drunken speech to her fellow workshop cohorts on last Sunday’s “Girls”. I loved it – because we all want to say it. Yet, in calling out everyone around her for being fake and pretentious, she herself has carved a little persona for herself – self righteous brat who thinks she’s being correct by being brutally honest and alienated herself in the process. Gotta give her credit – she’s trolling her workshop mates face to face and not behind a pseudonym or online handle. And in turn, Hannah said plenty of things one wishes to say to the snarks on Facebook or on Amazon or on Jezebel, but the point is – why bother? In doing it, you fall onto the same level as those you’re verbally pummeling. I get detached irony (I’m guilty of it), but when does it become too insulting – too….bullying? I love Lena Dunham for making Hannah this way. We don’t have to adore our protagonist. People are flawed. Writers young and old can be tetchy. It’s a growing process, and we’re all growing no matter what age.
Writers, dear fellow writers. Let’s just all be ourselves. Let the words flow. When inspiration hits, just go with it. Don’t block it out. If it doesn’t come, don’t beat yourself up.
There’s something unexplainable about the force of creativity. It seems to come from nowhere. Everyone from The Beatles to Bob Dylan to The Decemberists, Wilco, Sia, JayZ – they all create something that provides meaning for the universe. But they cannot explain the process. The process and the source doesn’t really belong to them. So, there’s no reason to let the haters or the lovers get to us. Keep it even keel. Enjoy the creative source and write the good write. Tell the good tale. Express the bad if you can. Don’t question it. And unless you’re vying to become a public figure with a PR campaign to bring you over the edge to the conscious of a public audience – don’t get lost in a persona. Bob Dylan did that, and he had to explain to journalists and stalkers for the last fifty years that he is not what he seems. He’s just a human being who’s a conduit to a rich source.
And if you have to tell someone they are a pretentious dope, don’t say it to their face. Take that energy and write a story about it where your antagonist is a big asshole. That can be a very enjoyable read. I wish Hannah would have done that instead of eating brownie mix, watching TV, chatting with Eliah, getting drunk and handing a verbal moral mirror to the faces of her fellow writers. Maybe she wouldn’t have her bike stolen all the time.
Peace and love, winter snow birds!