Exit Music (For a Writer)

By: Josh Leichter  |  April 8, 2020

By Josh Leichter, Staff Writer

As of late, I’ve been wondering why I regularly write articles. It began with a satirical article on Blade Runner, a movie I was once enamored with for its “profound and deep nature,” yet when recently reflecting on the article I noticed that there was never anything substantive in the words I used. It was a repetition of ideas previously said in ways more powerful that I could have written. Based on this crime of unoriginality, one dare challenge the publication and try me for the murder of the tree and ink that was used to print it. After this, I wrote a piece on Full Metal Jacket — yet again we ran into the same problem of nothing new being said. 

Due to this, I have begun a gradual transition towards writing pieces that don’t reflect a topic as it relates to a broader context, but that look inwardly and challenge the author to understand a part of the greater world that he makes up. It’s to ask himself why film or quarantine or politics matter to him so much. To stare in the mirror (or in this case, the glowing screen) and ask whom this work impacts. But writing an article this time is different. What new topic could I cover that people are interested in reading? Yet this question belies a flaw in thinking since we’ve stated that these articles are reflection pieces –a peek into the inner workings of one person’s mind and a chance for him to take a deep dive into an aspect of himself. 

It prompts me to recall Hunter Thompson’s words on the Kentucky Derby, which focused not on the race horses galloping at top speed around the track, but what it was like to be at the Race in the first place. To look around and see the spectators and the culture because sure, while everyone can find out which of the horses won the top prize only so many can know what it was like to see the victory. But I’m not at the Kentucky Derby and I’m far from being Hunter S. Thompson, so does this bar me from being able to deem myself a journalist because my style is different from someone else’s? Of course not. A fundamental of First Year Writing should ideally be the acceptance that we all write differently, no matter how many times our professors bang the mallet over our heads and force the square pegs into the circular holes or the triangles into the stars. It’s a liberating freedom to break the rules that are imposed on us. It makes me feel like a literary anarchist. You don’t like fragmentation? Too bad. And I shouldn’t start a sentence with a conjunction? Yet I just did twice. Oops. 

The page exists as an open meadow for us to run wild. Don’t be shackled to the classroom’s structure of what the expectations are. It’s a voice you have, so scream or cry or laugh or whisper words of passion softly (if that’s what you desire). Alas, here it is, at last, the subject of the article is not politics or culture or art or life, but writing. What’s the focus though? It’s like blindly attending a dinner party without knowing the menu beforehand  — you’re left scratching your head in bewilderment over the lack of sustenance offered on the platter when the cloche is lifted. We have the bread in the form of the words that I have written and you have read, and the vegetables are the metaphors. But as that old commercial from the 80s said, where’s the beef? Has this article even started before we are so closely drawing the curtain closed and bowing for our departure? If we put into perspective what has been written thus far, then the train hasn’t even left the station. And if I think about the inspiration for what has brought me to write such an unconventional piece, it would be traced back to a song I’ve been playing on repeat for over a year now, “Almost (Sweet Music).”

I wouldn’t know where to start

sweet music playing in the dark,

be still my foolish heart,

don’t ruin this on me

And maybe this late introduction of song is a foolhardy attempt to bring together an overarching theme to an article, instead I leave with one final question: If I wouldn’t know where to start, why try to begin in the first place and betray the stillness of this foolish heart beating within me?