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Doing the Writing - De File — LiveJournal
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Doing the Writing
I have a huge backlog of things I want to write, here and elsewhere, that I may not get to in the foreseeable future. As is usually the case with me, I have highs during the day in which I imagine accomplishing an enormous amount in a short period of time. But I recognize, in my more lucid moments, that this is a dangerous delusion. Everything takes time. And writing takes a lot of time.

I had this realization as I was driving to the hospital yesterday, as I was on River between Oracle and La Cañada, musing on the placement of the new Chinese Cultural Center of the Southwest being built on that stretch. You may remember me writing previously about the way in which I regard doing the dishes as an activity particularly conducive to inducing a state of being focused on the moment, like the sort meditation is intended to achieve. Well, as part of that line of thinking I've been trying to figure out a way to adopt the same attitude toward "doing the writing" as I display when doing the dishes.

While I generally post something here every day, it's increasingly rare that I manage to post what I wanted to post. And the "dishes" pile up as a consequence, until I despair of ever finishing the task and contemplate tossing them into the trash and buying new ones at Marshall's. Part of the problem -- the biggest part, I think -- is that I set such high standards for myself as a writer. Although it may not be apparent from what I actually post here, I agonize over almost everything I compose. Indeed, the reason why I end up posting something other than what I set out to post is usually bound up with the conviction that I don't have the time to realize my ambitions.

What I need to learn how to do is to regard that pile of dishes as the only dishes I have to work with. I can't keep starting over. It's expensive and wasteful. So I'm going to strive instead to let myself off the hook a bit and content myself with doing the writing the way I do the dishes, acknowledging from the outset that I'm rarely going to get the whole kitchen clean, but also that a half-cleaned kitchen is better than a trashcan full of food-encrusted dishes. I even think I might approach time management in my writing the way I do when tackling the kitchen, doing a little bit here and there rather than worrying about finding a block of time big enough to make substantial progress. As my first step down that path, I'm not even going to edit this entry. A small step, surely, but one that means a lot to me.

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(Deleted comment)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 17th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
All good questions. It's not that I aspire to purity, just that I have strong internal forces regulating the writing of sentences. My office is messy, but I think I compensate in virtual space. I guess this is sort of like doing the dishes in semi-public.
(Deleted comment)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 17th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I generally do operate on that assumption, I think. My biggest problem is that I always seem to find what I need after many distractions, pleasant and unpleasant.
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: January 17th, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I should have written that post you just wrote.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 17th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
kolakoski From: kolakoski Date: January 17th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Articulating my thoughts in writing is painstakingly difficult for me. I'm trying to post everyday; and while, like you, I have many things about which I want to write, when the moment comes, I rarely "manage to post what I wanted to post." Too often I find myself unable to capture exactly what's in my head, so I flee to another topic. Perhaps I shouldn't run away like that. Instead, I should struggle through the process despite my frustration and abandon any hope of reproducing on the page exactly what's in my head. This is all to say, I feel your pain.

By the way, I really enjoyed the analogy.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 18th, 2007 05:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Not running away seems important, though I tend to do it more often than not. In writing, I mean. What's the URL for your blog again? I forgot to record it in the tumult of the past few weeks.
kolakoski From: kolakoski Date: January 18th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 19th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You're a Dot Com. Awesome!
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: January 18th, 2007 07:20 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
This entry hits me a lot. I've been doing the starting from scratch thing way too much when it comes to the prospectus and fellowship app. Then I made myself sit down today and vomit out only three bullet points. If I had to say it in three bullet points and I only had 15 minutes to do it what would I say. And it sort of worked. I mean, I had a meeting in 15 minutes with the advisor and I had nothing and then I had something. And that was something.

Anyway, feeling this--feeling much--
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 19th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Something is always better than nothing. Unless you're being Buddhist about it. . . :-)
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