Some Random Thoughts on Dating and Writing

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Back in 1995, when I was at the peak of my failures with the opposite sex, scoring a date was about as easy as getting accepted into college (ie, not easy). Luck had nothing to do with it – it was all about finding someone who was willing to look past your grades and/or pimples and give you a chance. Getting a date, like applying to uni, involved a shitload of hard work. Just meeting the girl in the first place, having the luck or courage to exchange names, was a trial – after that, I would have to create a good impression, get the phone number, successfully call the girl, and then, finally, trick her into agreeing to meet me someplace. Usually a movie, or dinner, or something. And let’s not forget, this was before the days of cellphones and Caller ID, so procuring the phone number was harder, and calling meant you had to figure out the right time to do it, greet the parent, and then actually have a conversation with the person. Talk about stressful – no wonder I settled for the companionship of my pet dog and the sexual fulfillment promised by late night Cinemax.

But then two things came along that totally revolutionized dating – Texting and Starbucks.

Yes, that’s correct: Texting and Starbucks. Suddenly, getting a girl’s phone number became easy. The number exchange involved no commitment; there was no looming conversations, no fathers to get through, and the ability to screen calls allowed girls the freedom to pass out their numbers like they were handing out party invitations. Nearly anyone could get an invite; it didn’t mean a whole lot. The other big dating revolution came in the form of Starbucks. No longer did the male have to arrange such a formal occasion, meeting for a meal or a long movie, something that had an unavoidable date vibe to it. Nope, now the two people could go and hang out, informally, grab a cup of coffee and get to know one another. Making an ulcer-inducing phone call that culminated in a date request faded out, in favor of sending a cute text with the suggestion of getting a cup of coffee sometime. Whenever is good. What you doing Wednesday? It was that simple. People now had the freedom to make commitments without making commitments, and everyone was happier, with the exception of the people that run Cinemax, because their ratings dropped.

Writing, I believe, has followed much the same arc. A mere 20 years ago, I was typing up stories and putting them in big envelopes, mailing them out to magazines via snail mail with a SASE inside. I’d typically send out two or three stories a year, and I always got rejected, which sucked royally since just sending the story out was such a production. The other strange thing was trying to find magazines – I had a big book called “The Writer’s Market” that spoke of literary mags I had never heard of or seen before. Sending out my work was odd because it felt like I was submitting to some phantom venue with an unknown phantom audience of an indefinable number.

But then, just as texting and Starbucks changed dating, two things would come along that changed writing: Blogging and Kindle.

Really, I should say ‘self-publishing’ instead of Kindle – I was trying too hard to stick with the –ing verb/proper noun setup. When I learned that I could start my own blog (and for free too!), suddenly the stress was gone. I didn’t have to worry about mailing something out, getting a rejection letter back in an envelope I paid for. I could write an essay, a story, whatever I wanted, and put it up on the Internet without worrying. It was great! And hot damn! – thanks to places like Kindle and Smashwords, I could even write a whole novel one day and publish it myself. Formality had left the building, the old ways gone, replaced by the writing equivalent of hanging out, having fun, and hooking up.

The reason I’m blabbing on about this is because I’ve been spending tons of time lately writing what will eventually be my first novel. In my life, I have never worked on anything harder than I’ve worked on this, and I’m not even remotely close to finishing. Focusing on the novel has lead to a dramatic fall-off in blogging, a social life that lacks many of the social elements, and a constant sense of guilt anytime I spend a few hours watching TV and not ironing out Chapter 9 for the 127th time.

And yet, as frustrating as writing the novel has been, I kind of love doing it. The sense of ambition and, yes, satisfaction too, is unlike what I experience writing my blog. Don’t get me wrong – over the last two years, I’ve LOVED writing this blog, and have been hella lucky that people have read it. That said, like scoring a coffee date, there’s been the feeling that the blog can’t be the be-all-end-all – that it should be a step, something that leads to something else. Hopefully that’s the novel…although God knows when I’ll finish the thing. I completed the first draft in January (weighing in at a ridiculously bloated 125,000 words) and am currently in the process of basically writing everything all over again. It’s challenging and thrilling and I’m not sure what it will lead to, if anything – a lot like beginning a new relationship with someone.

If there’s any points to be made here, I guess, first of all, I want to thank texting and Starbucks, and blogging and self-publishing, for filling my life with hope and possibility where none existed before. And the second point, I further guess, is that everyone should sit down and push themselves to do something that takes more work than texting and blogging, because even though those things are great, there’s a different level of pleasure that comes with pushing oneself into areas less certain.

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18 thoughts on “Some Random Thoughts on Dating and Writing

  1. Nice! Way to tether the reader’s mind to your idea by making an unexpected connection, then pushing through to your real point. Great structure.

    So this is why we haven’t seen your face much, eh? Well I’m glad to hear it’s for a reason like this!

    I wish you all the luck!

    I hope this doesn’t mean that you’re just going to drop off the face of the Internet entirely, though, does it?

    • And another thing, don’t feel guilty about doing unrelated things! You need to put your head in a wide variety of places to produce the best material. Besides which, you can’t do extended intellectual labour without breaks anymore than you can perform extended physical labour without breaks. Keep pushing forward, resting as necessary in order to avoid burnout or just plain poor writing!

      • Thanks man! I plan to rest a lot! Actually, I’m very lazy, so no real planning is necessary. And nice sentiments as always – no way I’m dropping off the face of the Internet. Just need to learn to focus on more than one thing. I was never a chew bubble gum and drive type of guy. : )

  2. nice post and bad timing on my part, i’ve only recently discovered your blog. bravo to you for creating a new challenge for yourself and going for it ) beth

    • Hi Beth! Thanks for stopping by and leaving the nice comment. I’m not going anywhere…so now that you found me, you won’t be able to get rid of me. Bahaha (evil laughter). : )

  3. Bill! I remember it was your birthday first day of June. Belated Happy Birthday! I was wondering why you haven’t been blogging lately so now I know. Let me know if your novel is out or better yet let us all know if your novel is out so we can buy a copy. You are right, we should push ourselves to another level for a challenge and I am kinda in that stage too. Well, good luck to your writing. Missed your funny posts. :)

    • Hi Jeps! Thanks so much on the birthday wish! Sweet of you! : D

      Hope you’ve been doing well. I’ll definitely be attempting to write some funny posts soon – I need a break to talk about bodily functions or something. Eww. Not that. Anyways, best wishes as always and keep being you my friend! : )

  4. You’re right of course, about texting, blogging and from what I hear, dating. I’d imagine that a date at Starbucks would involve the girl sipping her venti mocha latte while texting her friends and ignoring me.

  5. Bill, it’s great to hear that you’re working on a novel. I, on the other hand, have been sucked up so hard into reality that I have neither updated my blog nor seen what’s been going on the blogosphere. Also, I vaguely remember that your birthday is in June. So Happy (either Belated or Early) Birthday! May eloquence always be with you : D

  6. Like it takes less effort for a guy to ask a girl to hang out. hang out being the operative word because if it turns out unromantic, there’s always the friend zone.

    Being a girl who was recently asked on a date, via, ugh, Facebook chat, I certainly do NOT know if I should be flattered or forever wonder how many girls got the same chat message. On the other hand, I actually was the one who nominated that we grab coffee and see how we go from there when the guy was asking me to do other activities like sports or videogames or something. Starbucks is neutral ground, yo ;)

    Nice read, Bill. You hit where it hurts. JK. x

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