VIII

I’m going off writing. Words are cheap and we’re bludgeoned with them constantly, and finding signal amongst the noise is becoming harder and harder. More importantly, it more and more feels futile to attempt to say anything worthy. Why bother? Wont it simply be howling your throat raw in a screaming maelstrom of voices?

How can I possibly say anything that lasts in this environment? I can’t remember the things I read online today, let alone this week. Let alone this month.

In this environment, where everyone has their own loud hailer, isn’t there a greater likelihood of contributing to the noise than cutting through it?

I’m not anyone special and there’s an arrogance to assuming that, of all the people speaking, I might have something to say that’s more signal than noise.

And yet I come back to it, over and over, unable to stop. In love with words, pouring them out, endlessly, it feels, from the tip of my pen, from the tip of my tongue, from finger tip to keyboard.

There’s a Blank on Blank where Kurt Vonnegut talks about writing being becoming, it being reaching into a student’s mouth, pulling out the tape there and seeing what’s written on it. He talks about it being exhausting and that being why some people refuse to do it any more. It’s one thing to refuse and quite another to know that you can’t. One day, I wonder, will I come to the end of my tape? Will there be a clunk as I come to the end of the reel? What will be at the end? I dread to think?

Norma Mailer said of his novels, ‘each had killed me a little more’. That’s how I feel. Each word written or typed feels like another minute off my life, whether they’re used to shitpost on twitter or write a poem or a novel I believe in, and yet, I cannot stop. Stopping is somehow worse. You might as well ask the sea not to come in tonight, or ask my heart not to beat.

The thing is, you can’t give in to despair. Perhaps each word is a minute off — or a minute spent? — but in the same way a minute spent typing garbage into a spreadsheet is a minute you’re never getting back, either. It’s less about the fact that you’re spending your life — there’s nothing you can do about that, you have no choice but to spend it — and more about deciding what you want to spend it on. Writing, sure, so when you write, are you going to spend time shitposting on twitter or on something you believe in?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

In the same Blank on Blank, Vonnegut says writers are professional over-reactors, if that helps you out any, gives you more clues.

Personally, I don’t know what he means…

The Bumper List of Books 2019

I haven’t done this for a while – I like to make a big list of the books I read or failed to finish in the year gone past and, sometimes, post it on the blog. So, here’s a rough overview of the year’s highlights and the list of what I read or failed to finish. I’ve tried to keep it shorter than last time. I’m not sure I have. HMU with your recommended reads for 2019?

Continue reading “The Bumper List of Books 2019”

The Monster List of Books 2017

bookstackI didn’t manage to read enough during Twenty-Seventeen. Including books I re-read, books I began but didn’t finish, and books I read for the first time, I read a paltry thirty-nine books, which was still somehow more than last year. If you subtract the ones I didn’t finish (nine) I still managed more than last year. A miracle. If only I was ten again. I had plenty of time to read then. Out of school, when I should have been asleep, in school, during Maths… Continue reading “The Monster List of Books 2017”

Kurt Vonnegut: Letters

I had Kurt Vonnegut: Letters for Christmas and got through it in short order. I’ve only read two of his stories, Player Piano and Slaughterhouse-Five, but they made a big impression. His letters reveal a blunt human being, who occupies a space that encompasses someone who simply uses their skills to make a living and someone who is devoted to the art and craft of their work. He shows that the two aren’t necessarily incompatible. I want to share some bits that I thought were interesting. Continue reading “Kurt Vonnegut: Letters”