The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Sunday, April 30, 2006

I Will Beat Myself for You, Geist, for You!

by Andrew Tibbetts

My paltry three published stories are the tip. Submerged are a dozen unpublished, fifty unfinished, as well as two half-hearted novel attempts, half a screenplay, and a million bits that never took recognizable shape. When I sit down at the computer it's always to haul some of that iceberg above the "published" line: give a rejected piece another polish before re-submission, finish a half-born story, find the string that gathers some odd chunks into a shimmering necklace or start a brand new novel that completes itself in a rush of perfect sentences. But mostly what I do is play Tetris.

Tetris is a game of falling oddly shaped bricks. It's your job to move them into the holes in the wall that's being assembled- quick! I Love Lucy masonry! If you complete a row it disappears. You destroy the wall by building it. The bricks tumble faster and eventually the wall fills the screen- game over. Then you see if you made the scoreboard.

I only play with myself- asexual masturbation- so what I'm trying to beat are my own earlier efforts. Awhile ago, I stopped putting my name on the scoreboard- Hey! I just beat Andrew Tibbetts but I'm still behind Andrew Tibbetts!- and started putting in dates- Hey! I'm better than April '04 but June '05 still reigns supreme! Last month I got an idea to remind myself why I’m there: when I make the scoreboard I type in a Can-lit journal. It took me several weeks but now the best Tetris players at my house are:
prairefire
queensquarterl
windsorreview
exile
prisminternati
brick
malahat
descant
danforthreview
grain
A high score bumps the lowest one off. I add a new one. What I hoped would happen- consistent intercourse with these august titles inflames my desire to type- hasn't.

For example, this Sunday morning I made myself some coffee, micro-waved an instant oatmeal (high fiber raisin and spice), sat down at my writing desk and played seventeen games of Tetris with no adjustment to the rankings. Geist will have to languish in the minors. But then I remembered I had to write this blog!

The thing about computer games: they completely absorb my consciousness. They blot out all anxiety. The experience of playing them is utterly involving. I disappear. Well, not disappear exactly, but pare down to a perfectly focused missile of attention and intention.

The thing about writing: as soon as I put down a word several others tap my shoulder-“pick us, we're better”-, complete sentences smell funny, paragraphs contain their own audio commentary- "here's where the writer loses the thread and wanders aimlessly in a forest of hackneyed phraseology"- and entire pieces sigh with the dramatic moroseness of an Emo-teen- "I hate myself and there's no point in going on, delete me, Ctrl-X me..."

So the tumbling bricks call. My spirits lift as I switch screens. The anxious twittering dissolves as a simpler, surer part of my brain takes over. Go, Geist, go! I’ll get you on the scoreboard yet!

3 Comments:

Blogger Patricia said...

you'll be there baby, you'll be in alllll of them, I love Lucy masonry..you're sooo wonderful Andrew, great post fellow Canadian writer...great post..xxoxo

Mon May 01, 01:48:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

The disappearing walls of Tetris - the perfect metaphor!

Tue May 02, 12:08:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Thea Atkinson said...

loved it! plenty of Andrew humour in here that made me smile.

Wed May 03, 07:32:00 pm GMT-4  

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