“Meta” has become a word without my knowledge or permission. Interviews with interviewers about interviewing are meta. Songs about making songs are meta. Murders of murderers may not be meta yet, but, mark my words, they will be. “Meta,” to me and to all right-thinking Americans, means goddamned navel-gazing, getting so caught up in what you’re doing that you think it’s of interest to other people. It’s not. Nobody cares about your navel.
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Now, let me tell you about my darling little belly button, errrr … writing process. Regular readers—or even occasional readers—or by this point, ANY readers—know my brain doesn’t travel well-worn paths. I may have a lot of thoughts, but developing a thought takes energy—of which I’ve got plenty—and focus—which is, if not mythical, also not a practice of mine. Because of this, when I have a brainstorm, I need to start a new document with that title. At any time, I may have 30 or 40 documents on my Mac desktop. For example, here are some I’ve got there now:
Marie Myers and Hogan’s Heroes
Sean McDonald Visit in January
Update on Shampoo
Living off the Fat of the Lam
In Praise of Beverly Cleary
So Because Thou Art Neither Hot Nor Cold
Drinking from a Dead Man’s Cup
The Problem with Programs
Too Goddamned Old to have a Puppy
Tonio K. List
Magic is a Time and Not a Place
Ghosts of Animals
The Pastoral Heart of the Hermit
The Tiny White Box is a Tool, not a Goal
Twelve Years on with the Mac
Feedback from Three Women
Keith Escape Vehicle
Lethargy, Larceny and Lust
Mrs. Fullam and the Snake
Getting Rid of a BVM
I Tried to Start a Cult Once
Each of these files has at least a few sentences. Some are nearly complete, and you may see them later this week. Most are somewhere in between. While most get written eventually, some which were timely when jotted down, now would be ridiculous. Until a couple weeks ago, I still had a column on warm weather deep into the fall. Since it’s now single degrees above or below outside outside and snowing, that column has gone into the trash.
When I wake up in the morning, before I get out of bed and begin the day, I try to decide what column to write that day. About a third of the time, I’ve got something hidden in a corner of my mind, and that becomes the morning’s work—real writing takes place in the afternoon. Sometimes. Two-thirds of the time, though, the kernel of an idea simply becomes another document on the desk.
Once I’ve completed the day’s column, I scan through the docs, and one or another catches my eye, as though it’s waiting for me to complete it. This very column you’re reading now, for instance, has been sitting on that desktop, waiting to be completed. Here, then, I’ve described the process by which this column came into being. Very meta, a word I’d use if I were a horse’s ass.
Instead, please admire my belly button. It’s an innie!