Cringe Writing

I just just sat down to write. It’s oh, eight hundred and I got my coffee, watched a few reels on IG, and now it’s time to let this reel go in my head. What to share? That is one of the questions I as a writer often worry about. I have the inspirational folks I follow that help me make that decision. There is one poet I know who shares all the gory details of everything he is going through. His past drug life, his cancer, soon maybe death, and sometimes his darkness is so hard and truthful that I can’t get to the end of the writing. He shares his work on Facebook freely. I have another poet friend, a writer, who like me has tried all the ways to be seen and gets an occasional bite here and there. He has a good following on various social media platforms. And one poet I know posts freely on his Facebook poems that seem to come from past works, the poems are at least done, or so they seem to be final drafts. And the question remains. What to share and how much? Do people really want to read a journal entry? Is that writing?

I read an Instagram story recently that mentioned that kind of writing as cringe. That type of in-your-face, here is what is happening and you should watch, me fall, learn, fall again and then look at me now. I am thinking about Hunter Thompson’s gonzo style of injecting his complicated life as it was into the stories that he was writing/experiencing in the moment. Like the time he had to write the forward to one of his books and what he describes as absolute torture (the action or practice of inflicting severe pain or suffering on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something.) So I wonder. What is too much to share about personal experiences. Maybe this was the reason Kurt Vonnegut agonized about writing a book about his involvement in WW2. His book about Dresden haunted him for years. Writing seems to go against all the best life practices that there are.

My favorite parts of Vonnegut’s books are the forwards. In Slapstick he mentions that this book will be the most autobiographical thing about him that he had ever written. Timequake he mentions right out the gate Ernest Hemingway’s difficulty in producing a document that was not eaten alive by critics. Breakfast of Champions, he talks about growing older and going over the hill in the form of a roof and sliding down the other side. Letting go of all the things that he didn’t need anymore. He also mentions that this book, Breakfast of Champions, is a registered trademark … (hehe) was a gift to himself for reaching the age of fifty. The forward feels to me like his declaration of freedom to share whatever, however, and in any form whatever the hell he wished even if it was silly and somewhat ridiculous.

So now it is oh, nine hundred hours. I wrote three paragraphs. Looked up two words. Torture and Ridiculous. Well now it’s 9:30 and that is because I got up from my laptop and had a smoke in the kitchen. If this was work, like I was at a job, I took a smoke break. And a flood of thoughts came, so did one of the cats and then a half hour went by. I thought about how I love Willie Nelson’s description of how to write a song. Also his Autobiography, It’s A Long Story. I am an audiobook kinda feller. Audible learner. He narrates the introduction and in that, you hear the writer’s voice. I love that. His book is like meeting up with Willie at your kitchen table and getting to know him face to face. I also thought about an Instagram post I saw this morning with Sting talking about the shape of songs these days and how they don’t have a bridge. That part of the song takes you to a new place. So now back at typing after the break I realize I have come close to answering my own question. And this came after the thought about the time, some twenty years ago I talked with a Locomotive Engineer I was working with about songwriting. He suggested writing about what you know. So a new question comes about. What is it that I know? I know I just passed a German Language test and here I am playing with English. I am a high-school dropout, a self-taught writer, and thinking about trying to follow my bliss once more.

I also know I am in a foreign land starting all over at life at the age of dreiundfunfzig. 53. Jahre alt. I fully understand what Kurt Vonnegut was saying in his forward to Breakfast of Champions. Just keep going and throw all the shit you don’t need over your shoulder and let it all hang out! Even if it is panties, assholes, talking critically about something you love, fucking, family and the lack thereof, community, and the serious need for common decency. I guess it is acceptance or maybe surrendering. Be what it is that you seem to know to be and go ahead and be that. That is the answer. Now what?

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