So I drank a full pot of coffee, things began to rumble, things were shaking down south. Off I whisked to the bathroom, my den of silence, the place where I get most of my best reading and for that matter thinking done.
What am I reading right now? I am reading Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahnuik. Truth be told I am not sure I like it. It's not the content, his premise is solid. It is a story about the fashion industry: super models, trannies, flashing cameras, oh my. No, I am digging the plot. It's his style. I am finding the whole damn thing too gimmicky. He is trying too hard, too many tricks. I wish he'd tell the story, I am already dizzy and I have read only 20 pages. So there, no offense Mr. Palahnuik, you're brilliant, I am a huge fan. It's just that the first 20 pages of Invisible Monsters had me reaching for the Gravol. Maybe that's the point. But what is my point? Is this a book review? Heavens no, this is a rant about style.
Style versus substance. I used to write raw, I abhorred the shackles of grammar and structure. I thought them false constraint; I believed my mind and my words were too wild to be caged. Blame Kerouac and his beats. Then thank them for the inspiration. I eventually began to blog, which meant that my words were being 'published' with the potential for all to read. The perfectionism sunk in. I was now playing a writer on the Internet. I had better buck up, edit, edit, spell check, worry. I took it one step further. I enrolled in journalism classes. British journalism classes at that. I wanted my words and the structure of them scrutinized like only the British could. I wanted to be as good as I could get. Style be damned.
Guess what? The words then stopped. It was no longer fun writing. It became a task, something too clean, more akin to washing the dishes than art. I was in a creative funk. The old me- raw, poetic, rebellious vs the new me- polite, structured, tight. I have been writing through that battle now for the last couple of years. The poet versus the journalist. Perhaps I am a new breed of poetic journalist. But I will let Matt comment about that- he is, of course the expert in all things gonzo.
So there. Not a book review, not an attack on Chuck Palahnuik, just some observations on literary style, from a guy still searching for the best belt to match with his literary hat. Now off I waddle to the bathroom on a quest for the next grand subject. Excuse me a moment.