html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: 'Course, it doesn't get me laid.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

'Course, it doesn't get me laid.

People have told me over the past year that I am a good writer. I don’t understand what that means, to be a good writer. I’ve heard that I have a strong voice; one kind reader told me my prose is muscular, another said it was compulsively read-able. Oh. Right. That. I get the part about grammar and vocabulary, but since I think of that as the pay-off for reading through my childhood because everyone at school hated me, I don’t appreciate it the way others might. I also don’t think that I am interesting because of how I write. As much as I’m interesting, it is because I am thinking all the time; thinking when I swim and ride my bike around and do the dishes. I still haven’t quite accepted the idea that blurting out esoteric shit is appealing in this format. Usually it makes people remember that they were on their way to get another drink. But here, things are different. Writing is intrinsically valuable, and not just for reporting your findings. Thinking about things draws people in. Weird.

I’m beginning to see blogland as millions of thought-junkies. Holy shit. They read anything, all hours of the day, follow links anywhere if they can just find some thought. They cluster around new thought, talk about it and move on as soon as they’ve processed it. They sit at their desks, hitting refresh, hoping for thought. Thought, thought, thought. Emotion and thought. I do it as much as anyone, but it makes me sad that I’m pulled out of my own life into a world of others’ thought.

I’ve slowly been puzzling out what people like about my writing. I hit on a chunk of it when someone suggested I write about the Salton Sea. Write about the Salton Sea? I couldn’t. I haven’t been there and I don’t understand the inflows and outflows and impacts and I don’t know how the Salton Sea works. I can’t tell you a story about that and I wouldn’t try. That was when I realized that a large part of the ‘Megan’ tone is certainty. When I tell you about weirs and underflow gates, I am certain about them. I am sure of my dating experiences or personal history. If I write it here, I mean it. (Or I am making fun of something. You will have to tell those apart on your own.) I pick my words so that I can mean them. I qualify and set limits, so I can be sure of what I say. People seem to like that certainty.

Today is not a good day for that, though. Today everything is swirly and unresolved; I have no clean thought for you to critique. The only points I can come up with are “it is complicated” or not very interesting or said better by others. Today is a good day to break free of fast moving thought and intricate conversations between strangers. I have nothing to add today. I should remember the worlds that most people live in. A long slow book, or the feel of stretching muscles, or chopping and frying garlic, or mowing the lawn. I can do better than flailing here when I should be there.


Blogger Megan said...

This post is sort of a trap for y'all, so I want to make it very clear to all of you that I AM NOT FISHING. I still do not want compliments. Other people read here and they don't need to see that. Further, it embarrasses me.

There is plenty to talk about in the rest of the post and I suppose that if you have a substantive critique of my writing, it could be useful. But no fawning compliments. I don't like them.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

It's actually a cloudy day here in Sacramento, which I thought never happened in July. It's making me feel very east coasty (clouds!?) and meditative. Perhaps the same is happening to you. Perhaps that's why you're so unusually swirly and unresolved. Indirect lighting. So un-California, where all is sharp and clear and beautiful through the sunny, dry, air.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

It is totally the clouds. They're messing me up.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

How can I have any certainty when it is summer AND overcast? This isn't the morning marine layer, either, so I have no explanations left for anything.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Trevor said...

They read anything, all hours of the day, follow links anywhere if they can just find some thought. They cluster around new thought, talk about it and move on as soon as they’ve processed it. They sit at their desks, hitting refresh, hoping for thought.

That is scary accurate.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a big part of why I link to you, to answer a previous query of yours...

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

I hit on a chunk of it when someone suggested I write about the Salton Sea. Write about the Salton Sea? I couldn’t.

A grossly overrated movie.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous HC said...

"Course, it hasn't gotten me laid yet."


7:30 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Been a year and a half, dude and it got me kissed exactly once. It has not been a high reward to effort medium.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Francis said...

I represented IID for a while.

Salton Sea gets inflow from the Colorado River and the New and Alamo Rivers from Mexico (yuck). Outflow? Straight up.

Anyone watch Emeril? Evaporation equals concentration.

Solutions? Another day.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous D said...

lif IS thought, kid. Even when you just BE, your mind processes all it takes in.

Even in a bygone time before even we wrote, we thought, and conversed in whatever fashion they conversed then. The shape of an eyebrow, a whisper of breath, a sound meaning an object. Building blocks to us. The form of those sounds of those objects written in pictures. Made into words. How do I know you are looking at trees when you gaze out of your eyes? You say trees, inviting me in to see what you see.

We built layer upon layer, sometimes a babel, sometimes sublime a way of telling each other what is inside when we could not see what was outside.

Eventually it dawns on us that some forms need many words, some feelings need more than one shape.

We build and build, and see that it will never be enough, though sometimes we get close. Age upon age we have built words, and then we built machines to carry them. First in ink, then in on/off taps of electrons, then in electrons that paint a picture.

At the top of the tower we realized that a picture can mean so much, but interpretation was so broad...
We could no longer tell each other exactly what we see.
For some forms this is no matter, and others we took one step back from the precipice.

We crave words like we crave life, like we crave sight, like we crave meaning.

When we discover a whole wide world of people who know words, we speak to them. They speak to us. Regardless if those words are wispered in our own ear, or blazed in electrons across the other side of earth, we want them.

When we gather the words, and they take a certain shape every time, eventually that shape becomes a person. And when they say tree we say what kind of tree, and they say the kind you can climb, and suddenly.

The tree isn't the only thing that matters. The feel of the bark in memory. The sound of joy. The innocent age.

We want more, because we know there is more in that person. They know there is more in us. Connection. Many connections, many voices, many thoughts, many words.
Words on a page, words in real life.

All thought by people.

heh, and sometimes thought takes on words of it's own...

7:43 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

My last comment was NOT TRUE. It has gotten me kissed on two occasions. The outcome, however, was the same.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous D said...

oops, forgot to say... I value your opinion, too, because I have seen your certainty... I was curious about your take on The Salton Sea just because it was fubar'd waterworks. :D

7:55 PM  
Anonymous eb said...

If you're interested in reading about the Salton Sea, this book has been highly recommended to me, though I still haven't read it. More on the photography here.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"[Writing] has gotten me kissed on two occasions."

You don't think that's something? My writing has gotten me kissed zero times. I have to rely on my overall general wonderfulness.


10:34 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

A4 - Not the writing, in particular. The blog as a whole. I still don't think that is a good return rate on consistent effort for a year and a half.

eb - I'll keep an eye out for that, thank you.

10:52 PM  
Blogger billo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:50 PM  
Blogger billo said...

Megan, I don't like the certainty at all. I find the technical stuff quite boring, if you excuse me for saying so..and sometimes the certainty morphs into 'preachiness'

I think your reflections on life can, at times, be really interesting and insightful. I find it strange that you say "everybody hated you at school" and that you equate the certainty of weirs with the certainty of emotions.

Aye, clouds, they tend to mess one up:


On a certain day in the blue-moon month of September
Beneath a young plum tree, quietly
I held her there, my quiet, pale beloved
In my arms just like a graceful dream.
And over us in the beautiful summer sky
There was a cloud on which my gaze rested
It was very white and so immensely high
And when I looked up, it had disappeared.


Since that day many, many months
Have quietly floated down and past.
No doubt the plum trees were chopped down
And you ask me: what's happened to my love?
So I answer you: I can't remember.
And still, of course, I know what you mean
But I honestly can't recollect her face
I just know: there was a time I kissed it.


And that kiss too I would have long forgotten
Had not the cloud been present there
That I still know and always will remember
It was so white and came from on high.
Perhaps those plum trees still bloom
And that woman now may have had her seventh child
But that cloud blossomed just a few minutes
And when I looked up, it had disappeared in the wind.

-Bertolt Brecht, “Remembrances of Marie A."

2:37 AM  
Anonymous sealion said...

I think it's the enthusiasm more than the certainty, myself. How many people exclaim, "Weirs! Aren't they wonderful?" and then proceed to tell you why, in the confident expectation that you, too, will find weirs wonderful?

Although the technical detail also conveys an impression of competence which inspires confidence.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

I come here for the pictures. This is actually the first post I've read all the way through.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Nicely done, Mitch.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous D said...

thanks for the headsup eb...

I saw the book a while back but didn't read it, being enamoured with Joan's platinum-paladium prints, and then like so much else in my cheap swiss cheese brain... forgot about it. A recent article that now I can't track down was talking about efforts pro and con for keeping the Sea going, even though at this point it is not sustainable in the long run...

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may not have gotten you laid, but it has certainly caused people to have crushes on you.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Imaginary crushes on a half-image of me. I keep telling y'all that what you see here is only the good parts.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe writing won't directly get you what you want, but, you are meeting a lot of new people on here, right? That's at least a step in the right direction.


12:21 PM  
Anonymous D said...

"I keep telling y'all that what you see here is only the good parts."

Yes. This. It's true. Why is that bad? :D

Besides, I don't think that anyone crushes on the bad stuff, we crush on what we think is good...

1:26 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

I agree with Billo on the certainty. It wouldn't be on my list of things I like about your writing. For the sake of your illumination, and at the risk of falling into the trap, here are the big ones.

I enjoy the evidence of craft in your writing. Too many people simply write words as they think them. You construct paragraphs like a carpenter. You have an array of tools at your disposal, garnered, as you say, from all that reading, and you wield them with an easy skill to create something both aesthetic and functional. That is what good writers do that bad writers don't.

I appreciate your perspective. It is wholly different from mine, and yet so intrinsically human as to be easy to relate to. Your perspective is endearing, maddening, enchanting, or simplistic, but it rarely fails to make me feel something, and that's important.

3:40 PM  
Blogger t.s. said...

If people like your writing, it's because you've got something to say. Style alone can only take you so far.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Imaginary crushes on a half-image of me."

I think all crushes are that.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

I'd say you're on to something with the certainty thing. But IMO it's not the certainty that makes your writing, but the inner tension between impassioned desire for certainty and an unspoken awareness of the complexity of things. Your certainty is the voice of someone trying to convince themselves as much as the reader. That's why you deliberately pick slightly outrageous things to be "certain" about. You're not at all certain the world *is* this way, but you're certain of your desire that it could be, should be, so. What you have is a sly, complex, and slightly off-kilter utopian vision that is just close enough to the everyday to be recognizable in the world around us.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Oh, and on the getting laid thing...chances are your standards are a bit high. That's the usual problem, anyway.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

chances are your standards are a bit high

A deep voice and hops aren't all that unusual.

slightly off-kilter utopian vision that is just close enough to the everyday to be recognizable in the world around us.

No, you guys are in the off-kilter world. Mine is the normal one we live in all the time.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

I'm bringing a three-person team to pie contest. The female member (yes, like a sexist, I am deferring pie to her), has been mentioning stuff like "ginger snap crust". My hopes are high, but we'll see.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

P.S. I didn't mean I am deferring pie making to her -- I am doing my share! -- but that I have a desparate hope that her gender has mystically conferred her with baking skills that I know from experience neither her husband nor I have.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

It it true. I magically know how to bake pie better than any man can.

You can bring your gender-based sense of intimidation and fear to Pie Contest on Sunday. The judging is anonymous, so if men were capable of making good pies, the results would reflect that. They never have, so far. But we think it is just adorable that y'all keep trying.

(Hmm, if Mr. Huston read the comments, I think he'd be bragging about something or other in here.)

2:35 PM  
Anonymous gdr said...

Certainty is good. Reading the writing of people who are experts in their field and can communicate their expertise and enthusiasm is always a joy for me.

2:12 AM  
Blogger jens said...

chances are your standards are a bit high

A deep voice and hops aren't all that unusual.

As though that were ALL you I recall, even liking to have sex with "furries" is enough for you to dq a guy. Makes you wonder how quickly you'd dump the like 95%+ of guys that either enjoy pomlazka or WOULD if it were available to them! (going to Europe sunday, including the Czech republic)

High standards, indeed!

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, Megan! Bravo! I have to break away from the thought-junkie-hood you described here...

10:13 AM  

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