Monday, December 03, 2007

I'm a crummy writer when I don't have deadlines

Not really a crummy writer -- just an incurable procrastinator. Without a strict deadline, I don't seem to ever get around to writing anything. Even despite my excitement over the prospect of the music piece I'm working on, it's been incredibly hard to actually sit down and write it. In fact, in stead of simply bearing down and cranking it out, I went out and bought a bunch of needless upgrades for my computer and workstation -- a new chair, more RAM, a flatscreen monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse... apparently anything in order to put off the task of actually writing.

I don't know why that is. I do know that the piece is daunting, but that's never stalled me to the point of paralysis before. I suppose part of it is the fear that whatever I come up with is going to disappoint me -- and, by extension, anyone who reads it.

There's just so many things I want to address and capture. I've taken a writing course or two in the past, and one of the first things they'll inevitably tell you (after they get the tired old saw "Good writing is re-writing" out of the way) is that you need to limit the scope of whatever you're writing to something manageable. This is very good advice when you're putting a term paper together, but I have serious doubts as to whether that was on Jack Kerouac's mind when he wrote "On The Road."

Organizing my thoughts, here are what I need to cover in the story, in no particular order other than the one they occur to me in as I write this list:

- The history of the band
- Character studies of each member and the tenant characters
- The sound of the band
- The narrative of the week I spent with them
- My own reflections on what it's like to see an old friend making it in the music business
- Various rantings about how roots music is better, and is unjustly relegated to a corner of a music business that has been hijacked by hucksters and charlatans.

Now that I look at it, that's a tidy little list (other than the prevailing vagueness that characterizes the last half). Can that be done in 15,000 or 20,000 words, and then sold to a major-market magazine?

Maybe, maybe not. It can certainly be written, and in that case, at the very least I'll have come up with something that recalls an amazing time of my own life and provides a snapshot of sorts of life as a traveling Celtic-gypsy musician.