Thursday, May 31, 2007

Inertia

When I was three years old, I wrote my first story. Well, I told it to my dad and he wrote it down for me. I was always obsessed with stories; I loved my Disney and Star Wars books on record, which read to me before I knew how to read, and I loved sitting on the couch with my mom or dad and having them read a story to me, particularly one from the Golden Books. Even when I couldn't read, I would just open a picture book and pretend to read it to myself, until that day when I was four that I pulled out a book and realized that I wasn't pretending to read any more, I was actually doing it! But that's getting ahead of myself.

When I was three years old, I wrote my first story. Not the first story I ever made up, because I was making up stories for my Matchbox cars and Super-Friends action figures all the time. But the evening of May 11, 1982, I sat down with a pencil and a scrap of blue paper, and dictated the following story:


Mr. Potatohead and CBC*
Once upon a time on the
edge of The Black Forest,
they had packages
for fruit and toys. Then
there came a big frog.
Then there came a
big, big lion. And they
lived happily ever after.
The End


It's lacking a lot of story grammar, and there's no real compelling through line to it - What did they do with the fruit and toys? Where did these giant animals come from? - but it was mine. Writing that story is one of my first memories. Like I said, I'd made up stories before, but I knew that I just really wanted to have it written it down. I wanted to see my name beside those words, and I wanted other people to read it and like it as much as I liked it. I wanted to have it forever. Most stories written by three-year-olds don't last for twenty-five years, but thanks to my mom & dad's careful cataloguing of their first-born's activities, I have it pasted in my Me and Winnie-the-Pooh memory book, there to be laughed at and "aww"ed over for many more years.

From that point on, something stuck in me about writing. In my elementary school, there was a story writing competition; everyone wrote a story and the best story from each classroom made it into a collection printed at the end of the year. I won in Grade One, Grade Three, and Grade Five, in a sort of inversion of the Star Trek movie curse. I always made up stories and wrote stuff down, and naturally read books and watched movies as much as I could. Stories are part of my operating system. As a geek, it comes in awfully handy, as having a shared knowledge of stories with my other geeky friends leads to a lot of shorthand when we get together; all one of us has to do is say something like, "I'm gonna need a hacksaw"** or "This is coming out of your pay!"*** and we're all right there in that moment.

Which is why things are frustrating for me right now. My own personal story seems like it's stalling. Yesterday, to appease her parents, my lovely Peach went to live with them until we get married. My thesis is rolling so slowly the only way I know it's moving at all is that I'm not getting ahead of it as quickly as I used to. The wedding planning seems to be moving forward but I don't really feel like a part of it, even when I try helping. And I sit at this computer every night trying to think of something to write and failing miserably.

There's plenty to write about. I could write about my opinions on Spider-Man 3 (short review: not so good) or Pirates Of The Carribbean: At World's End (short review: wow, not bad). I could write about the struggles The Peach and I have as we try to integrate our lives together. (An excerpt from a conversation we had this evening. She: "Wow, I didn't realize how much beer you drank." Me: "It's one beer. I've had three beers in the past five days.") Hell, I could even write about how amazing The Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1 is (it continually breaks and fixes my heart). But every time I sit to write, nothing comes out, because I can't think that anything I write is going to be very interesting.

And that's always been part of why I write, why I put it down on paper or broadcas it to computer screens: to delight an audience, somewhere out there, wherever they are. For nine days I have tried to think of something to write, and have written nothing. I read. I watch. I laze around. And so my inertia takes control of me and I say nothing. But tonight, I face the inertia and just write something. It doesn't have to be good, or thoughtful, or even entertaining, it just has to be something. And I just did. So maybe that can crack the inertia that seems to be pervading the rest of my life now. We'll see.


* - A little background. When I was young I thought that the CBC logo I saw on tv was a character, like all the other drawings with voices I watched (The Smurfs, He-Man, and so on). Not only was I convinced that "The CBC" was a cartoon character, I was also convinced he was an evil cartoon character because he spoke in a loud, deep voice "THIS IS CBC!" about once every two or three hours. I was terrified of him. Why I made him best friends with Mr. Potato head in the story I do not remember.

** - Two cool points to the first person to guess where this quote comes from.

*** - Four cool points to the first person to guess where this quote comes from. If you need a hint, imagine it said with a Jamaican accent, but dock yourself a cool point****. Honour system, folks.

**** - Really, they should be called geek points, shouldn't they?

7 comments:

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Y'know, Doc, this post may not have been a story, and your own personal story may be lacking some exciting momentum right now, but this was one of your most refreshing, frank, reflective posts yet, and I really enjoyed reading it.

I also appreciate your love of the written word, something that I share a passion for (though perhaps not so much in story-telling, fictional form).

Incidentally, when Hubbs & I were engaged and prepping for the wedding, we fought more than we ever had before. It was perhaps a combination of the various stresses and juggling a bazillion expectations from all parties with vested interests, but we were not having fun during the last few months leading up to the "big day."

That said, it has truly been peace and bliss since the wedding, so it does get much much better! :)

Hopefully you'll find your groove again soon! :)

Justice~! said...

"I'm gonna need a hacksaw"

That's the problem with people like you, Devin...you never want to get your hands dirty!!

Gina Damberger said...

Apparently, the hacksaw thing is from 24, but I get no geek points. I looked it up on Google.

The Red-headed Dynamo said...

You know, that story you wrote when you were three? Natalie Goldberg (of "Writing Down the Bones") would LOVE it!!!

(BTW *I* love it too!)

Shannon said...

I'm a little disappointed in myself for being unable to wrack up any geek points this time.

I LOVE that story with the toys, fruits, and big, big lion. I once wrote a "book" in the first grade just so I could illustrate it. It's either lost or somewhere in my father's closet of all the things he can never throw away.

Diego said...

Isn't that the plot to Chronicles of Narnia?

The Doc said...

Mrs. L, thanks for your kind words, and the words of encouragement about the upcoming wedding. Things are okay, honestly, it's just that we're in the stage where we're noticing little things we haven't noticed before. I'm sure you can relate.

Justice, two geek points for you plus one for identifying it obtusely with another reference!

Gina, even if Justice hadn't gotten it right, you should know that you get no points for cheating. Tut tut. For SHAME!

Morgan, thanks! I took the book out of the library and plan on reading it this weekend (along with The Brothers K), so I'll let you know what I think of it when I come back!

Shannon, don't feel bad about the geek points. I'm actually thinking about making an incredibly lame game out of it, with a leaderboard and everything, so there will be plenty more opportunities.

Diego, yeah, pretty much. In fact, there was a giant frog in C.S. Lewis's little-known first draft. He was an allegory for...sloth or something.