Two writers exist in my head.

One lives to compose songs, stories, even poetry on emotion-dumping occasions.

The other works to persuade, to detail, to analyze.

The first is the storyteller of my childhood.  As a misplaced California kid growing up in rural Texas, I had little use for technical writing.  That changed during my junior year in high school, when I discovered I had a knack for exposition, particularly the persuasive variety.  So much so that my English teacher at the time wound up holding a grudge against me for not joining the debate team.

Hey, I could write, but argue on stage?  Nervous and hyper, I’d come across like Porky Pig on amphetamines.

Not long afterward I registered for college.  The admissions counselor asked about a degree program, but I wasn’t there on an actual collegiate plan; most of my buddies were settling down, and I wanted to meet girls.  As a designer/writer I faced a two-pronged road fork when pinned down on the subject; naturally I picked the career path least likely to invite women and went with engineering design.

I suppressed the voice of the artistic writer and increasingly embraced the technical.

This worked career-wise, and ultimately led me to great work opportunities, including the best job I’ve ever had (with Nokia).

But now with my marriage over and more thinking time on my hands, I’m finally putting serious effort into fiction again.  Problem is, I find my writing bogged down with details.

One editor liked the idea behind a recent story but said she couldn’t really connect with it.  That there was a great deal of “info dump”.  And she is absolutely correct.  I went over and over the story to see what I could do, but ironically that just puts me into analyst mode and compounds the problem.


So I get why many of the best writers drank.  Alcohol shoves that editorial demon off of your shoulder, loosens up your limbic system and frees the suppressed storyteller.  I’ve chugged a margarita or two when in the composing mood and can vouch for tequila’s liberating effects.

I read Cormac McCarthy‘s stuff with an envious eye, and wonder how he manages to find the necessary balance.  Because he has, obviously, his stunning work demonstrating a soaker hose’s approach to detail that never overloads the reader.  Information is leaked, not dumped.

Every now and then the two disparate writers in my head find the nirvana of consensus and swing into sync.  This seems to only last for a paragraph or two, though, and Mr. Technical again asserts editorial control.

I suspect that a lot of the problem is environmental.  Maybe I need a drastic change.  Maybe toes in the sand of some near-deserted beach could provide the same effect as alcohol without the down factors.

My California-born child writer insists on it, his voice pitched high above mind’s-eye waves, and I’d definitely like to test his theory.

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