There's that feeling one gets when looking at a sentence with an errant comma. You know it belongs in the sentence, somewhere, you're just not entirely sure where. You move it around, read the sentence out loud, playing with the words, seeing where the movement of the comma takes you in regards to what the sentence conveys. Yet, and here's the catch, it doesn't seem to belong anywhere. It doesn't seem quite right in any of the various positions you place it in, but to remove it would, surely, be obscene, unthinkable w/r/t the sentences core.
It's these little discomforts with language that I grapple with every day. I'm fairly comfortable with the written word and, I suppose, you could list it under the column labelled 'Shit James is ok at' rather than the opposite. Writing talent is, actually, a bit like cycling. To a degree, if you work hard, you get better at it. But, at the end of the proverbial day, there's also those who have the natural spark, the limitless potential, the seemingly effortless ability to make the thing that you wish you were better at appear easy and, heaven forbid, beautiful. I didn't think people like Stuart O'Grady and Cormac McArthy, Sean Kelly and Kafka had much in common. They don't really. What they do possess is that spark. That element that makes us the rest of us hang our heads in despair, looking up only to stare at the sky and wonder what it was that these people had/have that we don't, that allow them to, without a wish to ramble, sparkle.
But there it is. I'm as uncomfortable as I am familiar with the written word and, frankly, I don't know how to change that. I definitely feel as if my writing has become stagnant as far as its quality is concerned. There's this vague desire to, I don't know, write. But write what? When? In what manner? About whom? To whom?
Of course those who know what the deal is will of course dismiss these concerns, citing the importance of simply writing, as being of the utmost importance. It doesn't matter what you write. So long as you do. Eventually, slowly, agonisingly, something will happen. Usually when you lease expect it. Or at least so goes the advice.
Maybe one of the real train wrecks to come out of po-mo-ish writing is that sense of self awareness that surrounds a lot of writing these days. The topic of the writing sits alongside the the very act of writing itself, that act in itself as much a part of the art. That's not to say this is a bad literary style, simply that it makes it harder to start writing. Not only does one have the awareness that one is writing to grapple with, one also has the awareness that, in writing, we are also aware of our awareness of writing.
Or, alternatively, it's always been this hard and we just started getting a bit more theoretical about the shit that goes through the standard human's brain when you sit in front of a computer, or a blank piece of paper and think, 'right, this is it', only to find yourself trolling the internet (the modern day procrastination equivalent of endlessly sharpening your pencil and making cups of tea) with the overwhelming sensation of 'oh shit, what now?' enveloping your soul.
That sense of doubt, that feeling that you haven't quite got what it takes, is embodied by that feeling you get, when you look at an errant comma, and can't quite find a place for it. It's almost as if the comma itself is fine, it's the rest of the sentence that's the problem.