A Requiem for My Wanton Words

The Purpose of this Delenda: A Limbo Between Digression and Deletion

During my last college semester I studied under a brilliant professor; he taught me to quiet my inner censor and to just write as I wish--despite my post-traumatic-professor-disorder which paralyzes me with self-doubt, these the war-wounds worn by so many students after years of terrible teachers, each either entirely apathetic or deeply entrenched within the utterly rote—their lectures just jaded regurgitations in Power Point, those slides cycling while the students fitfully sleep in-seat.I began writing a memoir for his class and I have yet to finish it; my writing has not been as clear and precise as it was while under my professor’s mentorship and I have more than doubled my original page length, though very little has actually been said therein. I am increasingly lent to my own obsessive compulsive writing tendencies. My prose has of-late been lost in loops and tangles of meaningless tangents—self-indulgent insertions of the beautiful words I love to taste in text.This blog is a collection of passages deleted from my memoir—an attempt to preserve wasted words, which are intrinsically sacred in spite of me. May they have their heaven here; may this final resting place, this Delenda, be better than nothing at all—better than true deletion.

If this unjust medium--this blog--be not the cure for my wild-fire writing, then surely The New School will be.

I was recently accepted to The New School in New York City for their MFA Creative Nonfiction Writing program for Fall 2010. Being accepted into such an esteemed university, being awarded such a coveted spot in their writing MFA program -- it's like winning the academic lottery. I have never been happier than I am in my dreams of a true academic setting. I know this will be the solace I have sought since being under the mentorship of my undergraduate writing professor.

This is me...

This is me...

This is me as well...

This is me as well...
In Death Valley, the Sand Dunes and Solitude Suited me Well.

October 21, 2008

Laggard Lucubrations of Another Sleepless Night

This is my first entry in what I hope will become a daily treatment, as I am suffering from a very unusual affliction for which I believe this blog to be the cure: I worship every word--not because I write them but because they are, and in-fact, I feel my work is a great abuse to our sacred tongue; my disjoint mind churns out a partially-digested puddle of pedantic bombast with erratic punctuation, heavy subordination, and tendencies towards liberal use of prefixes, passive voice, arbitrary adverbs, archaic style and metaphors that meander from tangent to tangent until they read like the rantings of a madman. I'd like to think that's style, but it's more likely a budding insanity; though, when I say that, I hear the melodrama in the worn-out word and I feel better telling myself it's normal to be this obsessive and tangential--to be so fractured in thought and yet to have the words come so quickly fervent fingers can hardly keep the pace.

I am a writer--ringing affirmative--just in the wakes of graduation, my undergraduate being in Philosophy (minor in English) it's not hard to find the source of my archaic usage; I learned to love the ancient texts which I so passionately poured over for years, and it changed my creative writing a great deal, altering my internal metronome and rythmic feel for syntactical resolve until I was hearing a poetic melody in older works of philosophy and literature alike--and because a large portion of the texts I studied were the lovechild of laborious translations, always (for the translators worthy of their title) there was such a reverence for the precise meaning of words--especially those jargon terms too sacred to translate in text, at best a brief mention in footnote--not just in direct context, but in subtle sub-texts, allowing for double-meanings and bad-jokes only emerging when left in the original language as well as for the possibility of an alternate translation, because the really important words are too risky to be definitive).

This kind of attention to precise translations often means the sentences are organized, well, backwards--for lack of a better term. They at first can seem awkward--certainly outdated--and they lend the work to a style distinct among even those sharing in a common era, as it is at least partially the idiosyncratic effects of true-translations in ancient texts that allows for strangely-structured sentences and extraneously specific, often pretentious-sounding words, all cradled between an endless series of commas and semi-colons, placed with rhyme though rarely with any reason.

These crowded clauses go on forever, and if I allow for even the most momentary indulgence, my mind will run away without me and my sentences will reach the upward lengths of 130 words or so--however, (not to boast on my own behalf, but...) never have these sentences been grammatically (unless you pull the passive/adverb card) incorrect and certainly have they consistently been correctly punctuated--even if it's often erratic, when i check the clauses and other structural elements in compound-complex sentences, even the most mangled passages are in-line, over a hundred words contained within the bounds of a single punctuated-period, and alas, I probably didn't say much in the span of those paragraphs and pages. I am currently working on a memoir which began as a class project and, with the encouragement from my professor, who oddly enough reviewed my long-winded nonsense I had hoped would pass for prose with a consistently enthusiastic approval, and with his prodding soon-matched by other professors in the department, I turned out over 100 pages during his five week summer course.

The memoir I am now writing is the half-finished product of my class-project turned epic-memoir, and taking his advice I have followed my muse, though she leads me neurotic obsessiveness and lends me to sleeplessness and despair; I'd have it no other way than this. Sadly, most of my words are wasted--deleted in my fits of perfectionism and ending in hours of aimless revisions--it's a shame, yes, but so much of what I write is just....there's no word...I have no word for this because I've used them all--I've used them all an then some, I've actually found myself nearly-inventing words, so astray from their original stem or sandwiched between out-dated prefixes and awkwardly modifying suffixes until they are hardly the same as the original word that I irreverently contrived until it was a monster of my own creation, a crutch for my incessant chatter. Most writers stare at a blank page for an hour when feeling "blocked" and many express their discontent at their inability to expand upon a simple scene or idea, unable to turn short stories into novels; they just don't know what else to say; this is NOT my problem.

These are the essential antithesis of my problem. I am addicted to words--the way the sound in union; I am afflicted with an affinity for arbitrary alliterative; I love the passive voice and I'm livid forced to live in a world run by Zinsser and the like; I will never kill my darlings; As Proust once mused, we have lost our appreciation for the intrinsic value of words, of sounds, of the real essence of language itself: art for art's sake, words for words sake--not to be plucked from page simply because they fail to serve a function--they are not things of instrumental value! They are valuable in-and-of themselves, like the human soul. I'll have my adverbs always, even the extraneously extraneous ones. Is it proper? You could argue it's not. Is it enjoyable to read? I'm sure for most it's not, with the exception of a few scholarly linguists and the ever-dwindling literary niche-dwellers within the academic community.

But please allow me to be clear: I do not want precise writing; I want my writing to be beautiful.

At least I know of a few who don't think I'm a hopeless hack entirely, but even if I were alone, to be alone with the words that are so much my very essence; my droning dribble a mirror into which I peer at length, and therein, I finally see myself clearly.

Because I refuse to comply with the rigor-ridden demands of embittered journalist who regurgitate that same tired mantra: no adjectives to spare, no adverbs if possible, always in the active voice, kill you darlings...kill you darlings...kill you darlings, leave nothing but the very rote and requisite, because beauty is boring these days and we must never allow ourselves to commit the blasphemous act of boring the apathetic audience with an adjective here or there. Just the facts, ma'am. Because I'd sooner die than ascribe to this unspeakable crime against the written word, I equally can't bare to accidentally obey their rules...I can't, in good favor with myself, delete the fruits of my labor, the sentences born of sweat and tears, too precious to discard entirely, even when they are repetitive and over-blown.

But I can't just let these passages continue to take up dozens of pages between details in a scene I was describing, only to become distracted upon making some minor revision mid-paragraph, and from there I fall prey to what I call "inward writing" rather than "outward writing"; I literally write something completely unrelated to the scene or story at hand, right in the middle of the action or dialogue.

These are the things that shall become my daily delenda: a place where I can send my musings into the void, never to be heard from again--or if they do compel some outside response, no one can possibly tell me what I don't already know (and loathe).

These will be the home to orphaned metaphors, rambling tangents, and a place where I can write all I want and yet not feel obligated to say anything at all. Following in the way of Charles Ives, the greatest of the greats and still before his time, I will think of this blog as "the book which no one reads"...