What I learned from writing today is…
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Do you listen to your gut? I listen to my gut. My gut says I’M HUNGRY and I give it food. My gut says I DIDN’T LIKE THAT FOOD and I pop a couple Tums. My gut says THAT GREASY BURRITO LOOKS GOOD and I eat too much greasy burrito. Then my gut goes —BLERGH and then I’m going —BLERGH, and we spend some quality time urping into the porcelain throne together, regretting all past decisions.
Good times, man. Good times.
Outside of controlling my eating habits, this gut of mine has proven to have quite the literary instinct. One that he isn’t quiet about.
When I’m reading someone’s work: OH, THEY DID THAT WRONG.
When I’m reading my own work: OH, YOU DID THIS WRONG.
When I’m writing my own work: OH, YOU’RE DOING EVERYTHING WRONG.
When I’m writing my own work and trying really hard to center myself and just get it done—OH, YOU’RE DOING EVERYTHING WRONG IN A DIFFERENT WAY NOW—
Well, you know what, gut? Screw you! Screw you straight through my colon and out of my rectum, you goddamn friggin’ know-it-all! Why don’t you let me worry about the writing, and you worry about how you’re gonna digest all that processed queso cheese, ya prick!
Then my gut gives me the silent treatment and I can’t write anything. So I eat away my sorrow with more queso cheese.
On and on the merry-go-round goes…
Here’s a quick fact for ya: Your gut is almost always right.
If it tells you there’s something wrong with your writing, then there’s something wrong with your writing. We’re talking years of reading/writing experience bubbling up from your subconscious to tell you WARNING and STOP and WRONG WAY AHEAD. Your writing isn’t going the way you want it to go, and your gut realizes that.
And it doesn’t help that my gut is a vague little shit. I’ll stare for hours on end at a passage I’ve written, knowing there’s something wrong cuz my gut’s telling me there’s something wrong. He’s down there, yanking on my sleeve, trying to get my attention, and I’m like, “What? You hungry again? The hell do you want?” But he won’t tell me. He refuses to tell me. And all I get is a whiff of the disgust he feels for the horrific words I just penned.
*Sniff* I try to fight it… *Blows nose obnoxiously* Seriously, I do! I follow the golden rule of writing, which is kick your inner critic in the balls and keep on going. I mean, when the inner critic strikes you’re supposed to ignore it, right? Right?
But sometimes, that’s impossible.
There’s a difference between sudden burst of spontaneity and jarring veer off road. One is born of unconscious inspiration ~ your creative self following a white rabbit who’s going, This way. This way, young wandering writer, leading to a new realm full of possibilities. The other is the result of losing your way ~ tumbling through what you thought was a rabbit role but turned out to be a sewer drain, leading to the realm of the menacing mutant Alligator People.
One gives a small joyful kick to your gut, like a word-baby in the womb. The other literally tears into your gut, leaving you with a feeling much akin to dread.
When your gut gives the frantic high sign, it’s best to stop what you’re doing and evaluate the situation. If there’s a flaw in the bridge, why keep building it? Why waste the time? Trust your instincts. Your gut isn’t there to just look pretty and digest all the pineapple and anchovy pizza you eat (which, now that I think about it, isn’t a pretty sight at all). Let him do his job and keep you on track. It’ll save a lot of hassle in the future.