Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Post Project

If you're so unlucky as to follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that I've been babbling about something called the Post Project. As more people have been getting mail from me, I've been getting more questions about what the hell I'm doing, so I figure I might as well attempt to explain it -- to myself more than anyone else.

I've written before on how I believe love only flourishes when it is given away like it'll never run out. "Love wastefully," I was told. The crux of this philosophy came from the best writing advice I ever got. It was from Paul Rusell, my professor at Vassar, whose books are lovely. Anyway, writing and loving are not so different, it turns out.

I'd been skipped ahead in the creative writing track at school and while my first couple of stories had gone over well, I eventually found myself "blocked." From my position here, years later and on the far end of a life-altering block which I call The Horrible It  (...more on that later...) I can look back and realize that I didn't know from blocked, but at the time it felt wretched. Every idea I had seem to wither the moment I tried to follow it.

Finally I went up to see Paul, who had a thick grey beard, pronounced poem "poh-eeehm" and had an office jam-packed with plants. I confessed that I couldn't write, which had never happened to me and  that I didn't know what to do. I think I may have even teared up, which strikes me a pretty hilarious now. It must have struck Paul as pretty hilarious at the time. He asked me if I had any ideas at all, and I replied that I did, but not for short stories, only for a novel.

That's when he told me, in not so many words, that I was killing myself in very small increments. If I tried to hoard my ideas for "the big book," I wouldn't be able to to finish so much as a paragraph. "It's like the loaves and fishes," he told me. "You have to give it away like you'll never run out, because then you never will."

I'm not quite ready to go into The Horrible It which has pretty much defined the past four years of my life, but I will say that I'm nearly free of its utterly damning and stifling shadow, thanks to some very heavy emotional lifting and a complete determination to give it away like I'll never run out.

The Post Project is my effort to continue giving something away without any expectation of return. It is also my way of trying to constantly be in a state of creation rather than consumption.

A lot can be gained from watching a good movie or a good television show, but I find that if I am doing something at the same time -- doodling, picking at my guitar, or making a post card to send someone, it feels like I am not merely sitting and soaking up someone else's art. Creativity is (has?) a force of inertia, and one of the ways I've gotten past The Horrible It is to really seize any chance to make something new rather than be happy and complacent either consuming or, worse and more Horrible, criticizing someone else's art.

Plus, who doesn't like getting mail?

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