An Essay a Day

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away", or so the saying goes. Well, I've decided to keep brainfreeze and boredom at bay with a new project. Like many other folk on E2, I have been gradually buffing my writing skills, enjoying myself whilst learning stuff and reading stuff and meeting new people. E2 has become many things to me, but most of all, it has developed in me a better understanding of writing - what consitutes good writing, and also to a certain extent, how to do it.

I've been here for about 5½ years now have written 389 articles on various topics (this will be number 390), and I feel that it's time for a change, to take things to the next level, so to speak. That number of writeups equates to about a quarter of a million words, which is about the length of three good-sized novels.

I'm setting myself a target for November (it's going to be too busy a month to commit to a NaNoWRiMo novel, what with travelling to the UK). That said, I'm going to aim to write at least 750 words a day between now and 30th November. That's still a tough target (it took me about an hour to pen around 800 for my latest writeup, yesterday), but I feel it's necessary if I'm to meet my real goal.

And my real goal is...? To become a writer. That is, someone who actually gets paid for writing. Christine's said she wants to see me do it, and by Jove, I'm going to have a stab. But, in the meantime, I need practice, and lots of it. When I first joined E2, I was writing anything from 2-5 writeups a day. Of course, I wasn't paying as much attention to my writing standards, and I wasn't working at the time, but I was getting the practice in, and slowly but surely I started to take better care of the actual writing itself, rather than just the subject. I started to notice how words fit together, started to become aware of rhyme and metre, assonance and other tricks to make writing stand out. I've played with fiction a little (although I still don't think of myself as good at it, and I have trouble with dialogue) but at least I tried. It was hard work, but I learned something.

Christine said to me yesterday that her academic advisor (or whatever) would set essays of 750 words. I reckon that my average E2 Writeup is about 800 words, and NaNoWriMo specifies 50,000 words in a month (that's just under 1700 a day!) So, 750 is both achievable and desirable, and like J.S. Bach, I'm just going to write stuff. Every day.

It may never make it beyond the pages of a notebook (I try to carry a Moleskine around with me these days - thanks, riverrun for that idea!) but whether it's a diary entry, a letter, blog, daylog or a short article on E2, I'm determined to do it. Want to help? Challenge me to do something. Fill a nodeshell, write on a set topic, fact or fiction. I may chicken out on making it public, but I'll certainly try to give you something, even if I never publish it anywhere.

What will the outcome be? Well frankly, I don't really know. I may not make it to the dizzy heights of some people (RalphyK stands out as a recent example, having written a screenplay for a feature film, Severance) but I'm going to work as though it were possible. In the process, I hope to get feedback from you all - honest feedback, not just a pat on the back.

So this daylog is a prelude to the main event, a teaser trailer, if you will. If you decide that you want to challenge me to write, please let me know - if I publish it on E2, I'll link it from here, and credit you with prodding me. So to speak.

In Other News...

I mentioned earlier that I'm going to the UK, and indeed I am! Flying out on 10th November and arriving on the 11th, I'll be staying for 11 days before flying back to join Christine for Thanksgiving.

Following an appearance in Bristol for the forthcoming nodermeet I'm going to Nottingham to see my folks and some old friends, before flying back with The Debutante. After that I'm planning to drive from Michigan back to California. Which should be interesting, especially if I'm writing an essay a day about it.



Funny, the wordcount script here told me I'd written 750, E2 told me it was 812. So, which do I believe? The lower figure, apparently. E2's count is an approximation, for reasons of CPU usage.

The Challenges to do:

The Debutante: write something beautiful for me!
Chras4: Hope Chest

The Essays done:

  • 29th October: This essay (753 words)
  • 30th October: WordCount - dedicated to Brother Jet-Poop (953 words)
  • 31st October: "An Open Letter to Davis' Cyclists", written for my website (756 words excluding quotations)
  • 1st November: Hope Chest - written for Chras4 (1015 words)
  • 2nd - 3rd November: about 1200 words in various small, ongoing projects (was sick on 4th)
  • 5th November: leaf blower (886 words) and wrote an account of a tarot reading (1085 words)
  • Total so far: 12,000 words (546 per day on average). Decided that keeping this updated every day was absurd, whilst travelling.
    In fact, I got about 65% of my target in the end, what with blogs and my Moleskine. Must do better.

Things like this always happen after you've decided you have no need for them. Some feral creature comes along and pumps blood into parts of you you've tried to starve to death. Awakened with malnourished desperation. How are you supposed to stop this?

You decided you've been hurt too many times. You've been on your own long enough now – to give up this emptiness would be a divorce. There's no reason to go on torturing yourself with thoughts of this coming to an end – of meeting somebody. Even when you masturbate now you don't need a girl in your mind – the struggle to find an image in the back catalogue of your imagination would defeat the purpose. It's not sexual anymore – it's chemical, it's physiological. The orgasmic discharge of melatonin into your blood stream is the only song that can lull your empty heart to sleep.

You've finally made it here to this point – solitude, nirvana. You have purged yourself of all your useless desires.

So you're sitting there on the couch staring into your drink in your own personal nirvana and some girl as audacious as she is attractive will walk up to you and say something incredibly stupid, like, "Hi, my name's Courtney. Are you Cornelius?"

And you – you'll look up from your drink, past her blue skirt and her rum and coke and you'll say something exceedingly dull, like, "Yeah. Yeah, I'm Cornelius." And you'll wonder why this particular creature on this particular night has walked past every other person in this crowded club to stand here in front of you.

To which she will explain with something cliché, like, "My friends told me all about you. We came to hear you DJ tonight."

Then you won't know exactly what to say for a moment while you run a search for any mentions of a Courtney in the past few weeks, and she won't know what to make of the silence at first. This won't turn her away, however, like it would most girls – though you may never understand why. Since you won't be able to remember being told about her, because no one told you about her, you say how nice it is to meet her, because this is just what one does.

You quickly explain that you already spun – she just missed it – but if she sticks around until three you will go on again. Then you look back down at your drink and wait for her to walk away. She looks like the kind of girl who walks away.

But then she'll do something even more outrageous, like sit down on the arm rest of the couch so close you’re touching and she'll begin to explain how she has been in town for a month now and that she came here tonight with her friend but she doesn't feel like watching her get hit on all night, so is it okay if she sits here with you?

You'll look at her again, just to make sure, and you'll wonder why guys are hitting on her friend and not her.

She'll continue to talk and you still won't know what to say, trying to shape out why she's talking to you, with all of this noise clouding up your brain. But you'll stumble your way through and you'll find her words mesmerizing. Why she packed up and moved away across an ocean. The guy she left three thousand miles behind.

And after a while, after you've fallen victim to her charm, you will start to do foolish things like getting the DJ to play her favorite song, and she'll ask you to dance with her. You'll say how you can't dance, and she'll say something flattering and vague, like, "Please? You just need a few more drinks."

And you'll dance. And you'll lean close to speak into each other's ears because the music fills the space between you, drowning out your voices. You'll forget your newfound philosophy – nirvana will be lost.

And every time she leans back after pouring her words into your ear, as her lips come so close to yours they all but touch, it will take all the restraint your drunken will can gather not to kiss the lips that spoke those words. And you'll long for her to rip the heart from your chest, while you still have one. You'll know she will destroy you. And this is all you wanted all along.

There is something about her toes.
No, not that sort of something. But they say a lot about her
- those toes-
they are a barometer,

an indicator of how she is doing.
Think moodring.

More than once there are those moments-
usually when we are outside-
a bench- or an outside table at a restaurant,
and we are talking-
just allowing time to unfold in front of us
slowly- without a plan or a schedule-
and she is leaning back-
and her legs stretch out in front of her- and if I glance down
and I always glance down- I can see her feet are crossed at the ankles, and her toes are dancing--
up and down-
the same rhythm her fingers make when she is typing-
and I know she is happy- and well- she's with me-
so then we both are doing well.
I don't have to comment- because she sees me look- and smiles-
so no words are needed- and none are used.

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