Coffee, Meaning, and Getting What You Get

I woke up this morning with a desire to blog, only to discover that the back end of my website is down for some kind of regular maintenance, and this presents problems because I’ve grown so used to using it that the thought of posting straight to livejournal seems redundant. So instead I write this elsewhere and assume it’ll go online sooner or later.

It’s 8:36 in the morning. It’s raining. I’m barefoot and wearing my oversized winter writing coat and listening to old Cure songs. There’s a list of five things I want to accomplish today sitting beside the keyboard. The first thing on the list is the production of words for Claw. The second thing on the list is the revision of words for Black Candy. If you read yesterday’s post, you may be seeing a theme.

Right now I’m missing coffee. Not the caffeine or the taste of it, just the comforting way it used to fit into my routine on mornings like this, it’s ability to be the thing that happens next when I reach a certain point in a blog post and get stuck and need a few minutes to think. I miss the way coffee marked time, gave me a thing to do without doing anything. Tea doesn’t have this quality. Tea is a moment of thought, a decision that’s made and a process that’s undergone. And there’s no measuring required for tea, no judgement about how much or how little to add to the mug. It’s drop a teabag and add the hot the water and away you go, back to wordmines with a poor coffee substitute.

Yes, I know tea doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve made tea from loose leaves before. It’s not the same; the weight is different – physically and metaphorically – as are the textures and the smells. And the making of coffee is complex enough to be engaging, yet automated enough that it doesn’t need to be thought about; easily done, able to leave the mind free to ponder.

This was not meant to be a morning when I blogged about coffee or the giving up of it. I’m not sure how we ended up here. My original thought was write about the writing process; or, write something vaguely amusing; or, for the love of god, I don’t care, just as long as you’re not whinging about stuff. They may even have been in that order, or have arrived all at once. Some morning’s its hard to be sure.

Today the blog is not a place governed by the fun-writer-mind, the part of me that writes to entertain and perform-without-performing. That part of my brain is off solving other problems: how do I handle the next scene transition in Claw, for example; or should I finally finish that blog post about story structure and Hellboy II and the fact that it should have been an utterly devastating movie were it not for some stupid choices; or, when am I going to learn how to write in third person and do that second-world fantasy series I’ve always longed to write?

For the most part, that fun-writer-brain is interested in fun and cool stuff and explosions. The one you get today is the same hungry-writer-brain that goes searching for profundity despite the belief there’s no such thing, the one that occasionally seeps out in stories where the extraordinary is greeted with a shrug and a desire to get on with life. The part of me that first encountered post-modernism and the collapse of grand narratives and the death of meaning and said, yes, sure, that makes perfect sense, then chose to believe in art and poetry and the redemptive power of ordinary moments. Hungry-writer-brain is hungry for meaning, despite the fact that he doesn’t believe in it. Hungry-writer-brain is very bad at endings, for endings imply meaning and for all that he’s hungry for meaning he still struggles to believe in it.

Hungry-writer-brain doesn’t get let out much, for obvious reasons. He’s not fun, after all, and he’s inclined to moping, and there is a third writer-brain known as business-writer-brain who acknowledges that he’s not the best face to present to the world online.

Business-writer-brain says this post should probably be written. It could have a snappy title about three-writing-selves and talk about process and the way all three brains work together. ‘Cause they do, and that’s important, and I fully acknowledge that there’s no one reason to write and only satisfying one of the impulses is a fast way to make myself miserable.

But you know what? It’s Hungry-writer-brain’s morning this morning, so you’re getting what you get.

Leave a Reply