Oooh - A TakeDown
I just want to write down my gut response to your criticism while Im still pissed off about it. I am taking it seriously, dont get me wrong, but there are some things I want to talk about, and I think I can get a better handle on them if I write them down (Verbalizing them turns them into gobbleteegook).
1) Initial responseI do have a heart, you crummy bastardin my life and in my writing. Go suck an egg, you fool. Ill show you. You bet I will.
2) Analyzing this responsethis is the response I think you were looking forthe proverbial cattle prod up the ass.
3) I do avoid sentimentality like a plague. I do think that its a trap (worse than the ironic one, probably) and that most bad writing reeks of it. My fear, maybe the fear of my (oh god) generation, is that I will try to write something meaningful, true, etc. and I will end up writing Hallmark cards. I dont want to become that which I make fun of.
4) I also know that in making fun of what I make fun of, I am becoming that which I make fun of, at least Im marginally aware of that. Ive already read your essay and Deride and Conquer. I think I know that Im sneering. Im not sure thats bad. Its probably not good. But Im not sure its awful. I like some trash TV. If I can get a laugh, maybe thats enough. Probably not. I dont know. But Im also not fucking Bret Ellis/Tama Janowitz and I never will be. (Even if I dont ever get published, you cant lay that one on meIm more than zero and I know theres more to life/writing than listing product names and clever/empty little ironies).
5) I liked Loving Bill. I liked Ellen. I didnt like the Oprah story by the time I finished writing it, but I liked it after I read it a couple of times. Now I hate it, for the same reasons that I didnt like it when I was writing it. By the end it felt like an exercise (intellectual) and not very rigorous at that. But theres still some things I like about it. Its just hard to separate myself from my writing activity this semester. Have I been wasting my time? Ive devoted more time and energy to this than anything else this semester. So I should throw away the two things which I really worked on. Probably. But it is a violent, retching feeling to do so. It makes me question a lot of things. Writing is what Im here (ISU, grad school) for. If all Ive been doing is empty, clever, masturbatoryshit, I should have worked harder in advertising where they appreciate this shit.
6) I know that thats bullshit.
7) Get a heart? Easier said than done.
8) I have this great fear that Ive spent a year here working my fingers, cracking my knuckles. I was going to revise this stuff and put it in my thesis, but now Im not sure.
9) I also have this great fear that Ill get out of here having grown as a writer, but having published nothing and having nowhere to go and having destroyed my self-concept as a writer and getting some shit career-type job and hating it and never finish my first novel. Maybe I havent written that much fiction, but Ive been writing seriously since 1988. Six years seems like a long time of emptiness when I confront it. I dont know what this means, but I fear it.
10) I do recognize that what you and Curt say are coming from your own perspectives and that your words are laced with your own brands of fear/paranoia/doubt. Im also not trying to write like you, or write like Curt. Maybe DeLillo. But I do take you seriously, and I respect what you say.
11) I was getting sort of sick of writing about TV, anyway. The next thing you will see from me will be different, but probably not the earnest (Hemingway?) kind of thing youre looking for. I think that I need to evolve, not to force a change (of heart?) in myself.
12) Im bad. Im mean. Im ugly. Ill never make it. I sneer. Im evil. Im hideous. (I kind of like this). Im a villain. Im everything that social critics say I am. Im empty. I dont believe that there is truth. Im self-centered. The world is my ashtray. It all means nothing. I think Ill become a slacker, grow my own reefer, and sit in a coffeeshop all day, reading Nietzsche.
With a humble and contrite heart,