One of the oddest things about writing is how often random ideas for writing will pop into my head. In this day and age, our electronic doo-dads can be both a blessing AND a curse. Yes, they are incredibly distracting and have left us with little to no social interaction skills, but on the other hand, sites/applications like Evernote and Springpad make it simple to get a thought down almost instantaneously, even with no pen or paper handy. Have your smartphone or tablet handy? Sweet, you can get down your idea and it will sync almost immediately!
Speaking of random thoughts, a good example of this would happen to be a movie from 1996 that just popped into my thoughts earlier today as I was thinking of a new post to write.
Do you remember, in the first few minutes of the film, the mission statement Jerry writes in his hotel room and then throws into his coworkers’ mailboxes? He was ridiculed (even let go from his job) for writing his honest middle-of-the-night thoughts but his moral awakening ended up becoming the entire centerpoint of the movie. Besides Jerry Maguire being one of Cameron Crowe’s better ones (I love his stuff, but couldn’t make it through Elizabethtown), it got me thinking. Why can’t I, as a self-proclaimed writer, write more of these mission statement-type things? I’ve been making a point to branch out into other types of writing but I’m still a work in progress.
With the exception of my wife, I didn’t get much feedback on my first poem written in quite some time, The Tree, but it may be due to the fact that there never really was much of an explanation to it. I’m still trying to figure out my writing skill set. Sometimes, I’ll get such a grand writing idea and then have no real way to put it into words without it sounding just awkward and clunky. “The Tree” is a great example of that. While on a hike at work a few months back, I came across the scene described in the poem. The gravitas that I was standing in a place where something horrible had happened was not lost on me. I finished my hike that day and mentally ran over and over different scenarios of how I could get that girl’s story out. I mentioned to my wife that maybe I could write the scene from the girl’s point of view, but was having a tough time trying to get into that mindset. At my current writing level, it just seems (and I may be selling myself short here, but there is NO WAY I would want to portray such an awful act in a trivial manner) that there is no way I could write this in her voice without completely mucking it up. I can’t even fathom how terrifying a violation of that magnitude would be. There is no way, as a man, that I would do this girl’s story justice. My wife agreed and I ended up with a poem. Is it formulaic? Yes, it most certainly is. It rhymes at the end of every line, I’m aware. I knew, however, that I wanted to get SOMETHING out there for whoever she is (or was, God forbid).
Going back to Jerry Maguire, what sort of subjects make people squirm in their seats? Which subject draws them in and keeps them engrossed in what they read? Why are we not writing more about THOSE things? Any story worth its weight in salt has left your emotions in a different place then where they started, hasn’t it? Did you finish that last page the same person you were when you read the first page? I’ll never forget the first time I read “The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty. Yes, I’d seen the movie already, but that book left me SLEEPLESS for nights on end. Same with Stephen King’s “It”. I don’t necessarily have a lifelong fear of clowns or anything, but I did lose sleep reading that book. How about NON-horror books that have left me reeling? Elie Wiesel’s “Night” is an unbelievable book. It’s thin but don’t let that fool you; it packs an emotional punch that you won’t recover from any time soon. Tolstoy’s “Confession”? Phillip Gourevitch’s book on the Hutu/Tutsi bloodshed in Rwanda in 1994?
After spending a good majority of my life up to this point reading (all sorts of genres) and writing (mostly horror because it seemed to come easier to me), I let those two things slip away over the last few years. I’ve been caught up in all sorts of other time-sucks and lost my way as a reader and writer. Spending the last couple of years making an honest effort at involving myself on both sides of the creative spectrum, I’ve been bouncing back and forth between writing my own things and reading as much as possible (thank you Mantano Reader for being so awesome and accessible on both my phone AND rooted Nook).
I honestly wish I had more time to write. I really wish I could just sit for hours and write on any and every subject. Some subjects would fall flat, obviously, but others could really take off if I put some time and thought into them. I have no words to describe how writing makes me feel. If I had to attempt, I would say it calms me down. Regardless of the subject being authored, the act of writing makes me feel that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Even if I can only get a few words written each day, I’ll keep plugging along here.
The full misssion statement (as written by Cameron Crowe)