Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Statement of Purpose (or at least a Statement of Something Approaching a Goal)

For the first time in weeks I went for a long run and remembered why I miss NY summers. I miss my weekly rainstorms.

Don't get me wrong, Oregon certainly delivers on the precipitation front (get it?), but usually the heavier rains coincide with lower temperatures and nasty winds. I miss getting soaked when it's warm enough to venture out in a t-shirt and shorts. I miss the smell of hot, damp pavement. I miss waking up shivering to booming thunder.

Anyway, we've finally hit a break in the heat and I'm glorying in it, especially because I can run more than a mile when nature provides a continual aid station. Around mile 2 today my legs started to get that "I could run forever" feeling. I haven't felt that in too long. It made me remember why I put on my shoes at all.

When my legs go on autopilot my mind finally starts to relax. It becomes wonderfully quiet and functional all at once. I don't obsess over not having researched a new laptop this weekend or the amount of loan I'm taking out for grad school or that I've gained weight or any of the normal shit that bothers me when I'm trying to fall asleep. Maybe it's increased blood flow or brain chemicals or the solid rhythm of my feet - I don't really know, but it works.

The point to all of the preambling is I finally figured out what I want to do with this space. I read a number of blogs where people have solid opinions, be it on books or politics or feminism or the state of the world. I admire them all but I finally have to admit that I cannot do what they do. I've never been the sort of person who has felt comfortable taking a solid stand and broadcasting it. My mind is too slippery or, when I do have a solid opinion, I find I lack the means to express it in a coherent way. It never comes out right.

However I do want to write. Correction - I need to write. I've kept a paper journal since I was 13 (they're all stored away in the trunk my mother bought me when I went away to college, along with old letters, programs, and my prom corsage). There are certain thoughts that need to be scraped out of my head and laid onto paper in order for me to digest them or share them or be rid of them. It's just the way I've always been.

But I'm still not sure that I'm a word person. I lack the facility of certain polyglot friends with the intricacies of language. I probably couldn't properly diagram an English sentence. I have a handful of French phrases left, a few Latin words and that's about it. I write the way I speak, the way I think it should sound. And yes, along the way a few commas will be lost or unnecessarily added, but that's just how I roll.

Anyway, the point is that I think I am going to use this space to train my writing, like trellis for ivy. I agree with Stephen Fry (and others) that poetry is a distillation of language. I often quote Strunk and White: "Omit needless words". Yet writing this I have already deleted over two dozen unnecessary bits of verbiage. I can't seem to help myself. Perhaps I read too many long-winded Victorians as an impressionable child. Perhaps I just lack the self-editing gene (which would explain why I am incapable of outlining papers or drafting properly).

So this space will be a dumping ground for the refuse of my mind, which I will then attempt to stack in some sort of orderly fashion. I will try to post at least twice a week. I will avoid filling this space with "I drank a cup of black tea and stared at the wall and decided to take a walk" shit. I will someday get the balls to post some poetry. I doubt I will ever get the balls to post fiction.

And the gauntlet is thrown. Let's see if she can keep it up.