Thursday, December 2, 2010


I don’t know what I am doing. I woke up this morning wearing a shirt when I went to sleep naked. Stranger still, it is an old high school football shirt I didn’t even know I still had. Was I dreaming about high school? Did I do anything football related? Did I wander outside? The shirt is not backwards or inside out but the correct application of shirt on body is a one in four chance and I had to have dug into the boxes in the back of my closet for this relic so far that I have no idea what the statistical probability is that I ended up dressed as I am. Sometimes I love the mystery of my nocturnal peregrinations.

Sleepwalking aside, I still don’t know what I’m doing. I write a bit here and there and end up with absurdist bullshit about prank calls and dreams. I’m working on short story samples for my applications to MFA programs in creative writing and this is all I am able to slur out? I want to be a better writer, I want to help other people become better writers too, but you have to be a pretty damn good writer already to get into a program and I don’t think an honest desire for betterment will supersede shitty writing samples.

When I scored in the ninety-seventh percentile for the GRE verbal section I was invincible. Well, 97% invincible. I called everybody to brag about my quantified brain skills and was sure that I had guaranteed my place in graduate school; my score would give me confidence to polish my writing samples and would easily land me an assistantship to boot. And then I received my essay scores. I did not improve at all and my previous score that put me in the sixty-seventh percentile would have to stand as my best effort.

Who has two thumbs and appears to be a bit of an idiot savant in that he knows tedious words to a fairly impressive extent but can’t seem to string together enough words to form a cogent pair of essays? This guy.

And so I doubt and delay, never quite finishing a story, opening three documents at once about obsessive counting, a petty creator of imagined universes, and a smoky conversation about pain. That is, when I am actually working. Most mornings I distract myself with the internet while I wake up, checking email, discovering the best sales on items I can’t purchase, watching videos of people hurting themselves. I then make myself some coffee or tea or whatever caffeinated beverage catches my fancy and sit in my backyard reading.

Today I read a whole book from start to finish. This is ridiculous excess. I glut myself every morning on caffeine, nicotine, and literature. As the chemicals seep in and the literature draws me out I am thankful that nobody sees me laugh maniacally (the GRE word for this is cachinnate) and dry sob from sentence to sentence till I can’t stand it anymore and have to go inside to write. By then my hands are too cold to type correctly so I check my email again.

I don’t know what I am doing. I write to exorcise the constant internal narration, writing because I want to (need to?), hoping that someday somebody will read and say “I’m glad he wrote that.” I feel like a polished writing sample is just my current excuse because I need some sort of goal when what I really need is a reason for why I’m writing.

I don’t know what I am doing but I seem to be doing something, and just like my nocturnal adventures in fashion, I hope it means something interesting and mysterious and is not simply the restless wanderings of an overactive subconscious.


mme. bookling said...

Cognizant writing isn't your thing. You and Ben share this. Just because a reader may not understand half of what you are writing doesn't mean shit. Just invent a genre entitled, "Non-linear narrative genius."

Kooy To The World said...

While I would never hope that everybody would completely understand what I am writing, I am painfully aware that the gatekeepers of the graduate schools I am interested in attending must be able to find meaning in my writing. I'm also pretty sure that genre invention is as dangerous as word invention and that is a realm populated by self advertising pseudo-illiterate morons (ie, Palin) or literary geniuses (ie, Shakespeare), and I'm pretty sure I am incapable of either of those feats of folly.

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