The Rabbit Hole of Ambition

So I was kind of stressing about Rabbit Hole Day. It sounded interesting and fun to blog with a Halloween costume. But, as the day loomed, I was having trouble finding a project. Anything that I could blog about with any real intensity, I pretty much already do. I thought about masquerading as a gadget blogger, or a hardcore liberal political blogger, or a philosophy blogger, but I kind of do these things already, albeit in my own way. I thought about making up a blog post like a teenager's MySpace page, but did that satire already with my own MySpace page (which unfortunately seems to be lost to the depths).

Then I read Cory Doctorow's Rabbit Hole post on BoingBoing, (where you can find out what it is, if you haven't Googled it already) and thought that was the perfect idea. Safe, perhaps; but at the same time, isn't revealing details about oneself that one never would a perfect mask to hide behind? Hiding behind the facade of the truth, which is essence is supposed to be a fundamental element of blogging: millions of anonymous strangers revealing details about their life to the world, which they wouldn't ordinarily tell their own mother. I've always taken the opposite approach in my online writing. I have never used a pseudonym or screen name, and only write things that I am prepared to represent as written and published by myself. So, now I am going to take the opportunity to cut in a completely different direction and tell "you" all about a part of myself. (This also fulfills half of my promise regarding my Blog Poll; I received two responses, so I must blog about the chosen "favorite topics" at somewhere near half-quality. Paula responded that "she doesn't like math"--I still haven't figured out how I'm going to blog about that. But Betabug, kind fellow that he is, chose to (perhaps lie) and say that he reads because of me, even though he doesn't know me. So, this post is about me! And maybe only halfway-readable!)

I'm going to write about my writing. Not my blogging here, that is. I mean, write about the fact that I want to be a writer. I am one of those people. To prove it, here is a list of asshole-wannabe-writer things that I have done recently:

-I have been non-apologetically expressive about my personal coffee fetish

-I have read pretentious literature and compared my own work to it

-I have struggled to write short stories about an author struggling to write

-I have "worked on a novel"

-I have felt a deep sense of annoyance at a rejection letter, "because my work is better than everything those assholes print"

-I have used a typewriter

-I have written in a Moleskine notebook, possibly while sitting in a coffee shop

-I have finished writing in a Moleskine notebook and looked up to see another person at the same coffee shop writing in a similar notebook and thought about how they are probably not as good of a writer as myself

Quite guilty. But of course, you knew I was a jerk, so why would anything change once I picked up the pen? So let's not talk about that. Instead, I'd like to share more about my writing and my writing process, for no other reason than that I have never done so before.

Originally I thought that I wanted to write SF. I even started, a couple of summers ago, writing a SF noir about a cyborg-alien detective investigating a strange streak of "psycho-terrorism" on a planet that's entire economy was based on tourism. It was called "Vacation Planet"--all my working titles are base and simply self-descriptive. The character, by name of Enoch (which has been the name of at least three separate potential characters since) finds the lush resort destination disconcerting after traveling from his own desert planet at the expense of the Tourist Board. He tries the vacation lifestyle, meets the underground resistance organization of the service class of the planet, and eventually determines that it is not terrorism, but a self-induced psychosis brought on by living in a world that is a constant buffet line for outsiders. I had the idea while visiting my brother in Orlando. While my plane was landing, I saw strip mall, hotels, and amusement complexes and their infrastructures all the way to the horizon. I imagined what it would be like if I had to live there. It was such a full, bright city, but empty in a way that only Disney World's Main Street USA can be.

I worked on a few other SF projects, only one of which ended up finished. I found my attention mainly drawn to the brainstorming. Simply writing out my idea after all the fun of thinking it up was a bit of a chore. When it came to the actual writing, my interests were leaning towards a speculation of prose, rather than of concepts. To speculate with literature itself, I found it more helpful to stay with the most basic plots. Naturally one can do both; but I'm only a beginner, after all. Here are some examples: a derelict of a man eats a sandwich on a subway, disgusting his fellow passengers. A man dies, and finds that the afterlife consists of walking over a bridge. A middle school boy listens to his peers, perhaps more closely than anyone of that age should. These are ideas that are not really original or enlightening in themselves, but I try to think about a way that I could tell them so that the mundane appears exceptional. I like to think that this is my skill: what I am able to do with words. Perhaps I succeed, and perhaps I don't.

I think that I do succeed. I feel that my writing is not just good, or readable, but I think that it shares something new and creative, in a way that might be called art. I write a lot on this blog about what I think "creativity" is, or what "literature" is, but in truth, I don't think of my own work in any terms other than "worthwhile" or "worthless" once it is sitting on the page. Most of it does seem "worthwhile", and so I keep making it.

I have to, in a way. If I end a week with less than 20 new pages (pages that I am happy with), I feel anxious and disturbed. After work, if Megan is working, I might be able to get 3-5 pages, if I'm not too tired. Then I try and set one weekend night aside for writing; I nap in the afternoon, and then begin to up my caffeine level. If I can write for 8-10 hours (normally resulting in anywhere from 5-20 pages), I consider it a success. I normally shoot for Friday nights. If I come up empty on Friday, then the pressure is higher for Saturday, and my anxiety builds. The anxiety isn't bad in itself--it can act like a wave, pushing me once I start, and keeping me going rather than letting my mind head off towards the Internet, video games, too much alcohol (during the writing) or other things. But when I'm sitting with a blinking cursor, or trying to "have fun" knowing that I've only written 3 pages in the last 10 days, the anxiety can be a lot less than comfortable. I haven't really analyzed this or tracked it down in my psyche. I think I'd rather not, at least for now. I consider myself lucky to have it. Tomorrow I could be old, and content with my day job, and willing to just push that anxiety back and let life take its course. Psychoanalyst's translate it as "drive" for a reason, I think.

To be completely honest, I do hope to be a well-known writer some day. Not famous, necessarily. I wish for these two things, specifically: one, to make enough money with the writing that I like, so that I may live comfortably and concentrate solely on my own projects; and two, to have enough of a following in readership that I can easily be aware that others care for and appreciate what I write. I don't think these are selfish or unreasonable goals. Of course, the publishing industry isn't really a well of hope right now. I've thought about the possibility that almost all writers would have to work for free (or almost so) in the near future. I think I would be okay with that, though it would be fun to live like Hemingway or Capote. But weren't they both independently wealthy before they were authors?

State of the Author: thus far, I haven't had anything published (not counting self-publishing). I have two pieces submitted, I have been asked to read at a literary reading in April, and I put a piece on Authonomy recently. As part of my "let's figure out where we're at" process, I made this tally last week:

Finished Work: seven (one novella, four short stories, an essay, and... err, Punk song-lyrics)

In Editing: five (one novella and four short stories)

Writing/Stalled: four (one novella, two short stories, and a poem. Novella is almost finished, the rest might never be, though the poem is close)

In the Aether: four (two novels, one short story, and one essay)

Even More Vague: I have a shit load of ideas scribbled down. Some of them are really good. Others are really funny. A few are illegible. At least one is probably really offensive, and I would tear it out of my notebook except that I can't bring myself to do it because that would make me feel even more guilty. My plan is that eventually all the unused ideas will be compiled into an epic poem of sorts. I write my notes in complete sentences or at least phrases (I always have) so it actually reads pretty well, if a bit esoterically.

I think one of the novels in "the Aether" could actually be something. This is what I'm working on now. My plan is to finish all the short stories that can be finished, bomb the shit out of the journals, and write the damn novel. I'm literally bursting with ideas for the novel, so I think it's going to be good. I'm actually worried that I'll ever come up with something to match it once I'm done. Of course, this could all change tomorrow, and it could go back into the stack.

I hate, absolutely hate, submitting my work. The entire process is so antithetical to why I write. Of course, I write largely to fulfill my inner desire, so getting rejection letters is obviously antithetical to my ego's pursuits. But I wouldn't mind being rejected if I didn't have to wait five months to get a form letter. It's disgusting--everybody bitches about how literature has gone to shit, and then they treat potential authors this way. Naturally, most potential authors aren't about to be the saviors of literature. But it certainly seems to be an odd system of improvement and support. Imagine if education was run in the same way--you work hard at some abstract task for nine months, turn in your work, and then wait for months to receive a form with almost no feedback except for "yay" or "nay", which itself is largely subjective or at least meaningless to a point where it might as well be. Oh, wait... that is how education works! Well, no wonder people like TV. Television is always there and loves you just as much, no matter what you watch or for how long.

Well, so there it is: Adam Rothstein, the hopeful writer. Probably not too different from most hopeful writers, but hey, I'm me, goddamn it!

I don't discuss my writing on my blog because my blog is not about my writing--or at least not about that writing. It's nice to keep them separate. This blog is a publishing tool: a portal to a certain audience to whom I write in a consistent voice more my own conversational tone than anything else. My subjects are things that I am interested in, and about which I choose to comment. But, this does not really include myself, or the things that I write about when I write. When I write off-blog, I am crafting individual pieces, works that would stand alone unchained into the subjective network of the Internet. I am in those individual works, but as "author", not specifically as the narrator. My blog is more of a pipeline that I log into, after which I begin to transmit straight from my own mind. Therefore, I let Author Adam do his own pretentious work, and here Writer Adam just tells it like it is for the peoples. They interact, of course. But form is as important as substance, and the Author in me knows his form, and the Writer in me knows his as well.

Have you enjoyed hearing about Adam the Author? I tried to tell you about him as truthfully as possible, though I am certainly a bit biased. It was a bit of a release to just talk about him freely, in this blog form. Certainly different than my usual rantings and ravings about the economy and technology. If you ever do want to read some of his work, you can always check out Brute Press, where he publishes online. I'll update you about him from time to time, of course.

Okay, I'm going to cut it here. I seem to have slipped into a disconcerting third person, which has some humorous, ironic possibilities, but also is starting to allude to the fact that this split-writer personality internet-publishing-form thing might have more uncanny consequences than we'd all like.

Happy Rabbit Hole Day!

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