A Tragicomical, Unsophisticated Blog about the Weird, the Absurd, and the Banal

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Lonely Art

A few months ago I wrote a post, "Thoughts on the Iowa City Book Festival" and spent a while talking about a panel discussion about teaching writing. The panelists were Camille T. Dungy and Ibtisam Barakat. There was a tangential point that Barakat made that I didn't write about because I wasn't entirely sure what to Do with it.

Writing is a lonely art, she said, but it's essentially a means to an end. She elaborated that sharing ones writing and participating in a community of writers is one way to do what we're essentially all trying to do, the Human Endeavor: to not be Lonely.

I have been finding it difficult to write, lately. Working in AmeriCorps in a city far from home, living and working with people who are far from home, I am a captive participant in an ad hoc community. It's not a bad thing. The real problem is that saying "No" is treason and you begin to think of everything in absolutes. If I don't go out this evening, this opportunity may never come again.

A former writing teacher, Sean Christopher Lewis, said that one of the greatest challenges for a writer is to say to your friends, "Sorry, guys, I can't go out tonight. I'm going to hang out with these people I made up."

I agree with Barakat, though. Everything we do is to somehow weave our lives in and around Others and some of us find that the act of locking ourselves up with a computer or a notebook is the most expedient way of doing so. One of the most honest answer's I've ever heard to the question, "Why do you write?" was from Eric "Pogi" Sumangil who said, "I write for the same reason I do everything -- to impress women."

This observation doesn't really boil down to writing advice. Or, if it does, I suppose it helps put this habit in the context of Human Endeavors. I stay in and write because, in the end, writing will help me bridge a gap, which is the whole point of communication: to commune with other people.

Anyway, enough of this. How about a prompt?

Prompt: Write an Ad

Introducing: Nothing.

The average American is exposed to Want over 5,000 times a month.  We literally spend our lives bombarded with Inadequacy and pulled down by the desire for Things and Stuff. Don't you think you deserve better? We do.

We think you're perfect the way you are. That's why we're giving you Nothing.

With the scientifically proven power of Nothing, you'll lead a happier, more successful life. You'll earn more money, get that job you always wanted, have a great sex life, see the number of friends you have quintuple, never have a dull night, and find that Everything is just that easy.

We guarantee that Nothing is your solution.

Go to your local Big Box, give the manger the balance in your savings account, and get Nothing today!

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