Monday, October 27, 2008

Possibly Maybe Probably Writing

" F*** rap, I'm givin' it up, y'all, I'm sorry
'But Eminem, this is your record release party!' "

And, with those words, the modern poet Marshall "Eminem" Mathers, in his song titled something I wouldn't say in polite company (which of COURSE we around this blog are) perfectly summed up my current plight:

I am so scared of writing my book, y’all. And I mean that. With every earnest, sincere fiber of my being. I have absolutely no idea what I’m in for. I mean, I discussed last time I was on here about how I’m not an author by any stretch of the imagination and yet a handful of things have me, lately, thinking I can do some sort of memoir in November. Which, dear readers, is, like, NOW.

*Sigh*. This is why writing is a craft and shouldn’t be left to untrained putzes like yours truly.

I’ve been attempting to stretch my writing wings (note to self: they’re called “fingers”. “Fingers.”) as of late, and as such have expanded my vast (not-vast) media empire (tire-swing fenced into a back yard somewhere that I’ve never seen) to include my own personal blog, which, fittingly and creatively enough, is available at The Russ Marshalek Blog (maybe I should make "the" "thee", and class it up a little?). As of right now, there’s nothing overly spectacular or enlightening on there, because I’m finding it, oddly enough, more and more difficult to be transparent, to be forthcoming, to want to plumb the depths of my memory to find something-humor? Terror? “Art”? Ugh, art. Art’s the last thing I want to be responsible for creating, especially knowing the ins and outs of the brain that I have. Art’s nowhere around.

And that brings me to a point that has me stuck, spinning my wheels: the amazing, cut-throat memoir has been done. I made several mistakes in the past week or so that have impaired my thinking, my go-getting-ness about this whole “Russ can take on a memoir and have it result in anything that anyone would ever want to read and/or find enlightening”: each of those mistakes being in the form of someone else doing some facet of what I, myself, desire doing: being able to mine those depths and find jewels, or at least jewels in the rough.

First and foremost was the memoir penned by the frontman of the fantastic and oft-overlooked rock band Eels, Mark Oliver Everett. Things The Grandchildren Should Know is not-at-all the quintessential “rock memoir”-rather, it’s funny, painful and oft both at the same time, describing in vivid detail the sheer tragedy Mark seemingly walked into day after day after day…not the least of which was finding his blisteringly brilliant scientist father dead in bed one morning as a child.

Jesus. Between that and writing “Novocaine For The Soul”, which is a lost anthem of my generation (no, seriously, it is), how can I compete?

In terms of absolutely phenomenal, flooring books, I also recently finished Matthew Kneale’s When We Were Romans and Andrew Porter’s short story collection The Theory Of Light And Matter.

When We Were Romans is heartbreaking from the get-go, as the story, captivatingly told by the thrust-into-adulthood 9-year-old narrator Lawrence, who, in the course of the story, becomes one of the most memorable characters in recent modern fiction. This and Beginner’s Greek are the two books from this year that I really, desperately want to keep in the event I am locked in a cave, or a vault, or some other thing that locks/can be blocked off, for years to come.

Andrew Porter’s O’Connor-award winning The Theory Of Light And Matter came to me at a time when I needed it, namely when I was trying to find flesh and skin in the industrial-esque minimalist compositions of Amy Hempel. Don’t get me wrong: I love Hempel. I’ve recently become addicted to Hempel. Every moment that I don’t own her collected stories, I find myself wondering about word choices, phrases, thinking that there’s a magic of language located somewhere within her skeletal constructs. However, I was in a place, stuck in a moment, so to speak, where I needed stories with life and breath and feathers-on-wings, with people possessing hearts that filled with blood and oxygen. Porter’s stories stretch with life, but within the framework of memory, be it lost or found. Usually love itself is a factor, to a point where I was literally faking sick to remain at home, curled in bed, shivering into the words on the page.

Anyway, all this is a fancy way of saying: I AM HAVING COLD FEET. FOR REAL. Who am I, thinking I can write a memoir…and, and….and SELL IT? (Because, unlike some of you, I just don’t have the cash to self-publish. I mean, really, I just can’t AFFORD it, that’s what that’s about.) I’m not a Sedaris…despite what the photo below may indicate:
(l-r: Amy Sedaris, ME OMFG ME!)

That is, in fact, Amy Sedaris. And no, though it would appear as such she is NOT, in fact, my mom. God, I wish.

Anyway, November’s creeping in. I’m going to wring my hands for a few more days, listen to a lot of Hope For Agoldensummer, and dig in. Here’s hoping I see the other side and have more to show for it than the “just another failed memoirist” t-shirt that I am currently designing and then manufacturing for myself...
as a way to avoid writing.

This is a picture of Russ Marshalek, Marketing/PR director for Wordsmiths, with Food Network star Sandra Lee. He hangs out with famous people and takes pictures of said encounters as another way to avoid writing. He also, for the record, while in college at Oglethorpe, wrote an essay comparing Eminem to John Updike. Neither party has ever seen said essay, but Mr. Marshalek received a grade of 92 on the paper and enjoys talking about it immensely to anyone who will listen.


Barbara, Goddess of Champagne said...

Of course blogging, too, is an advanced form of cat-waxing.

Not that I'm being critical. I am an experienced practitioner of the art of cat-waxing in all its forms.

(What? Some of your gentle readers may not have heard of waxing the cat? What a coincidence. I was just blogging about it this morning.)

Let's make a pact, Russ. Let's each promise to write every day, all month next month, and...What? That's been done, too?

Oh, forget it.

Karin Gillespie said...

Aw! Cute pic of you, Russ. Keep on writing.