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MIKE MORAN
WRITING * PERFORMING * DRAWING * TEACHING

  
Time Wasted

First rule is: decide.

Second rule is: act.

You'd think these'd be easy, yeah? You look at them and go, well no flipping shim. Decide. Act.

But who decides? Hey, Trisha never decided. Trisha let the garbage just happen. Problem is: Trisha grew old, got fat, lost teeth, lost friends, died alone. "All the lonely people," right?

Trisha wanted to bake bread. But she didn't know how. So Trisha quit. The end.

The story is in the struggle. That's what I tell those who are willing to listen. You want to make up a story? Come up with a character.

Jeb, for example.

Come up with an objective for Jeb (God bless Grotowski-and no, I'm not going to explain the reference. Go look it up).

Let's see. Ah.

Jeb wants to fix his watch.

There. See. We got a character who wants something. And I know what you firetrucking, well-read, literary fanciers are thinking: that's lame, Moran. Anybody can come up with that.

And you'd be right. But how many people decide to do that? And I mean: come up with something? And then write it down?

The joy of the story isn't in the objective. The joy is in the struggle to achieve the objective.

Hell, Jeb isn't real for you yet. He hasn't done anything. Looky here:

  Jeb wants to fix his watch.
  But his watch has been taken from him by his father because Jeb just can't take care of nice things.
  So Jeb asks for the watch from his dad.
  But his dad says no you can't be trusted with nice things.
  So Jeb begs his father for another chance.
  But his father gets angry and a little disgusted and then a little condescending and says no.
  So Jeb asks his mother to tell his dad to get the watch. And his father caves in and gives it to him.
  But Jeb doesn't have the first idea of what to do with it. He puts it on top of bureau drawer and leaves it there for a long long time. He doesn't fix it when he's ten and he doesn't fix it when he's thirteen and he doesn't fix it when he's seventeen. When he graduates and is packing up to leave for college, he picks the watch and remembers that he said he'd fix it.
  So he goes down to the hardware store and gets some little screwdrivers and he takes the back of it off and he pokes at the gears and then he screws it back together and winds it.
  But it doesn't work.
  So he throws it in the garbage.
  But his dad finds it and pulls it out of the trash and he takes it down to the jewelers and gets it repaired for fifteen dollars. And he keeps it and he wears it around.
  So when Jeb sees it, he asks for it.
  But his dad says no. His dad says you had your chance to fix this for the past ten years. When you get old enough and wise enough I'll give it to you.
  But Jeb gets angry and says that's a lot of bullshit dad, gimme my fucking watch.
  So his dad breaks the watch and gives it to him.
  But it's broken again and he still doesn't know how to fix it.
  So he keeps it and he doesn't do anything with it. And he goes through college and gets really drunk one night and wears it around and everytime someone asks him the time he keeps giving them the same time because the watch is broken. And his friends take turns using it as a prop: one guy turns it into an earring. One guy uses it as an eyepatch. One uses it like it's a gold tongue that he's drooling over women with. One guy says that it's a really nice watch and he can fix it.
  But Jeb thinks he should be the one to fix it and says no. He remembered what happened with his dad.
  So Jeb eventually graduates and he gets married and he gets a nine-to-five job and has a kid and he drifts into an affair and gets a divorce and occasionally wears the watch as jewelry to impress the women he's dating and he remarries and he retires and his son gets married and Jeb eventually becomes a grandfather. And Jeb finds his grandson playing with the watch one afternoon and he barks at the kid and kind of scares him a bit. And he tells the story of the watch and all its gone through and how he never got around to taking care of it when it was broken. And the grandson takes it apart and says, "ain't it just this little spring here that's fallen off?"
  But Jeb's hands are shaking and it's hard to get the spring back in place.
  So his grandson asks if he can take care of it.
  But Jeb says no.
  So Jeb works it carefully and slowly over a long period of time, his hands a'trembing, until he finally gets the spring back in place. And it runs again.
  Then he gives the watch to his grandson.

So there's a story. I started writing it out at twenty minutes to six in the a.m., and finished it a half-an-hour later. With one stop in-between to go make coffee.

No slow ponderings. Only the occasional taps of the chin. The occasional hmmms. But I made the decision of the story and acted.

Now, I look at it and I can see the theme took shape without any interference from me. I was thinking about how we waste our time and let things happen and by gum, it came through in the story. But I didn't start with the theme and try and force the story around it.

I was just honest. But hell, even honesty needs to give way to the act of deciding. Sometimes you just have to play it like Alexander did with the Gordian knot.

Yeah, eventually you should stop and ponder. Look at the theme that you've made for yourself. The choices you've made tend to get made for the same reasons.

Examine those reasons. Then realize that what you've discovered is based on what you know up to this point.

Then when you know: decide. Then act. Live your life.

Love you all.


~Moran
The Ninth Circle
2/10/02