How I Write… Confessions of a Raging Introvert

I’m a slow motherfucker, everybody. Most people I know complain I dawdle around and waste time. What none of them get is the speed of my mind–it’s just slower than everyone else.

For years, folks, I faked that I wasn’t an introvert. I still do a pretty mean impression of an extravert when I go out. But it’s starting to get old. Nowadys I don’t feel like I have enough time to fake what I like to talk about. I’m just going with who I am now.

My introversion is part of the reason my literay output has been next to nothing the last five years. I only have so much mental energy to go around, and rather than give me energy everybody I know and every chore I need to complete is a drain on my limited resources. I’ve finally just had to accept that with the way my brain works I only have enough energy to do one thing with my life. Either party, have friends, a relationship, or write. For the last five years I been busy chasing tail instead of writing. Maybe, at age 38, I’m finally mature enough to just get the work done.

I had a story idea a while. Well, I had the urge to investigate an idea I had about people that I wanted to write about. So I started writing, thinking I was laying down some good shit. After 20K words, I gave it a read, and discovered I’d written a big pile of shit. I would say out of those 20K words, maybe 3-4K were any good.

Now, I have this idea that some people can write out of the box. They got the right kind of brain to basically structure a story as they go along improvising it. That ain’t me. My guess is this happens with the more extraverted writers. You know, when extraverts talk out what they want to say versus an introvert who thinks it through before they talk. I’m the latter. It’s a lesson I keep failing to learn. Every one of my stories starts out as an idea, and in a rush I take off writing.¬† The result? Shit. I go back to the drawingboard, re-think what I’m trying to say with this idea, what’s the point, then I start buildong it out from there.

The point is, as an introvert I really need a lot of time alone, just to think about what the fuck I’m doing in life. My stories are an extension of that need.

This newest idea I have, which should reach novel length, started out as an insight I’d had by living life and observing people. Like usual, lacking some kind of impulse control, I just started writing. I thought I was being brilliant, too. My big idea was I’d mix essay and narrative. But what I accomplished was the destruction of each. The essayistic portions ended up being preachy, telly, and boring. A few of the scenes came up breathing, but they were very thin. That’s no big deal. It’s another feature of my slow mind. I can’t think of details on the spot. I have to add them in on later passes. Actually, this¬† isn’t necessarily due to my slow brain, it’s due to my pathological focus on the BIG PICTURE and UNDERLYING SYSTEMS that govern human behavior. You know that forrest that some people see because they can only see the individual trees? I can’t see the trees at all until I know there’s a forrest.

Erlier this morning I took a walk. Wait. Let me start earlier than that. Before my walk, I tried to re-write the opening scene to Crazy Bitches. I got some decent conflict in the scene, but after I read it back, I couldn’t figure out how the fuck it would fit into the idea I was writing about. Being stubburn, I tried thinking of a solution. My brain tried to weave the threads of implication into the greater idea of Crazy Bitches but the scene, the whole fucking concept of the scene, seemed out of place. There’s only one thing you can do when you have that problem. Scrap the scene. I saved it, thinking maybe it would be the start of another story. I know it won’t open Crazy Bitches.

So, I was frustrated. I daydreamed for a while, but I do my best thinking while I’m walking around. On that walk, I began thinking very precisely about the idea this story is meant to express. The basic idea is something like American culture is sexually abusive and destroys people. But when I went off half-cocked, I started writing about a guy who hooks up with a girl who kinda develops a fatal attraction for him and starts doing crazy shit. Hence, Crazy Bitches. I failed because the idea wasn’t just about men and women. It’s about the cultural emphasis America has and its effects on men and women. The first version saw me making my narrator, who’s already damaged, the protagonist, and the antagonist the girl he screws with. Unfortunately, in order for the story to work, the protagonist has to be relatively undamaged at the beginning of the story. The antagonist has to be America. The narrator, who is yours truly, Bob Collins, can be damaged. A damaged narrator is good, as he’ll be able to chart the protagonist’s decline in character as he succumbs to contemporary American cultural prejudices.

I wouldn’t have come up with any of this if I hadn’t taken that walk. But you might be diffrent. You might have a quick-thinking mind that could move from the idea to a general structure in a few minutes. It took me two weeks and 20K of wasted time and writing before I took a couple hours of a solitary walk to figure it out.

What’s this all mean? Absolutely nothing. I work the way I work because my brain functions best that way. If yours does something else, you better listen. Until you pay attention to who you are rather than trying to fit in to a style or a group of people, you won’t be shit. So, listen to yourself. Either that or…

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How to Start Working Even if You Don’t Want to Because You’re Drunker than You’ve Ever Been, or Some Other Debilitating Condition Has You Laid Up

I been drunk for almost five months. What else is a guy like me gonna do with his life? I’m practically illiterate compared to some of my contemporaries. None of my stories feature teenage romances. Can you believe that? None of them! If there’s gonna be a teenager in one a my stories you better believe she’ll be fucked (up the ass) in the end. That’s just what Bob Collins is about.

Bob Collins stories ain’t rainbows and love blossoms. Maybe they’re Cleveland Steamers and golden showers. Did you read what passes for my bio? Can you really expect happy endings from a Bob Collins story?

Hell, no!

A Bob Collins story is more like drinking too much at a bar, passing out, and waking up in a bathroom stall with your face smooshed against the floor tiles, all befouled and coated in unwashed layers of piss, crap, cum, and puke–while your buddies stand over you cracking jokes at your pathetic ass.

That’s right. You’re so high and mighty during the day, so capable at your job, or at least you’re trying to delude everybody into thinking so… But at night where are you? Shitfaced drunk with someone else’s turds rubbed up against your tongue.

That’s a Bob Collins story.

But there hasn’t been many Bob Collins stories. That’s the point and it’s a big problem when as an author you want to make a living by selling your work.

In order to do that, you have to do two things: 1) Produce work; and 2) Make sure that work is worth reading. When I say “worth reading” I mean it’s done well enough that someone (hopefully many someones) gets so much pleausre out of the experience they toss some coinage my way.

I haven’t done a good job of that.

You see, I wrote a fictionalized version of my one and only marriage, The Sexually Adventurous Life of Bob Collins vol. 1, and it was an okay book. For a first book. The thing is readable, but it ain’t giving no one any wood. Which means I been doing my best to improve on it. The stories I’ve done since them, yeah, they’re technically better, but they don’t have no “ooomph”–there ain’t no pop. And the title I chose for the first book was a bad title. I mean, hell, there was more than one volume to be written so that part wasn’t a lie and there was a lot of sex in that book, so that wasn’t a lie, either; but the story wasn’t about vast sexual experiences. It was more about how I fell in love with this woman and then learned to hate her. You know, the way relationships go.

The book has been selling, but not enough to keep a guy with my tolerance in alcohol for very long. Another indicator that my game has to improve. Not just in the writing, but also in the authoring and publishing.

What it comes down to, drunk or not, is to do the work. It’s time to cut out distractions. No more dicking around. I don’t need two whores a day. What I need to do is plaster my ass in a chair and write. That’s the only way to do this career. Just do the work.

The thing is–and I generally don’t admire people–I look around the internet and I see writers of all abilities who’ve done the work. That impresses me. Against my will, I’ll admit it inspires me.

Like I said earlier, I had some short stories I got going. Some worked, others didn’t. I couldn’t in good conscience publish inferior product. What, you expect a man with and eleven-and-three-quarter-inch dick to shaft you? I might give some of my sexual partners the rod, but I don’t screw my readers–unless they proposition me. And I couldn’t publish none of them stories because my laptop crashed. Now, those stories are legends.

I been so depressed. That book, The Sexually Adventurous Life of Bob Collins vol 1, I wrote that motherfucker back in 2008. I started it back in 2006. Now, it’s 2012. Since then I’ve barely gotten shit together. Like I said, a few inferior short stories. But nothing good. I mean, TSALoBCv1 was my first book. I’m cutting myself a little slack with it. Someday, I might even withdraw it from the market. I haven’t decided. All I know is I have to produce more. But what do I do instead?

I drink myself silly. For 5 months. I started drinking back in January and I haven’t stopped since. My liver is a little tender, but that ain’t so uncommon with me. I been wandering all over the world, fucking and drinking, searching for an idea to tackle. I don’t want no bullshit teenage love stories either. I wanna write something important–or at least is more important than another goddamned doomed magical high school couple.

For 5 months I’ve been drinking to help something come into my mind. (No wisecracks!) I think something finally did.

Today something happened. I got inspired. With a story idea. Something that has some meat in it, some weight. I’m gonna start working on it if I can hold off the booze long enough to stop touching myself.

And that’s what you really got to do. You gotta do the work. If I need to close myself up in a closet for 3 weeks while I pump out a first draft, well, guess what, Bob, you asshole, that’s what’s going to happen. Because this laziness. It ain’t you, Bob. It’s fear. Get rid of the distractions. Face your fear. And write.