Monday, August 06, 2012

Pet Peeve

You can't be human and not run into these, and you can't be a writer and not have to deal with several. Among my biggest peeves is the need to be current.

Writers will, sooner or later, have to interrupt their work for a myriad of reasons. If the delay is long, expect the topic to be stale by the time the writer returns to it. I've found that to be true even when writing about topics that aren't strictly current events.

The reason is that there is a currency to themes and topics, even if they are considered timeless and abstract. Good and evil, love, poverty, joy, loneliness, social unrest-- these timeless topics are often contingent on a season, a cycle, a fad, even the prevailing zeitgeist. People will write about love around February, about death around Halloween, about loneliness and shopper's fatigue around December. True, nothing stops the intrepid writer from writing out of season, but I have found that the writing is like rolling a heavy stone uphill the farther away the appropriate season is from the time you pick up the pen after your necessary delay.

It is cold comfort to blocked writers that many of them find themselves in such straits-- at least, I would imagine so. I would also imagine little comfort in the advice I would impart: keep striking the damn iron while it's hot. It's piss-poor advice that's easier said than done.

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