Monday, December 17, 2007

Fair Warning: Navels Gazed Ahead

You know, yesterday, as I was typing out a brief post before I flew out the metaphorical door to enjoy a brief respite from the waking world in my favorite digital plane, I wrote something that's been bothering me ever since. I'm going to paraphrase here since it's buried in my typically convoluted labyrinthian structure of cascading points and interlocked clauses that prove, perhaps, more than anything what I could use is a good editor. But, in so many words, I said, "I'm going to throw out a quick post here because I feel I should before I move on to the activities I actually enjoy and to which I am looking forward."

Which, I just have to say, "What the hell, past self?"

But, I'm afraid, it's actually a fairly accurate representation of my feelings about blogging lately. It's turned from something I look forward to into something that I have to get done in order to feel good about myself. A requirement. A millstone about my neck throughout the day that I feel lousy about until I've discharged the obligation. That I've somehow failed. Myself, if not my small but apparently rather devoted audience, and my goal to think, to write, to express myself in some small and inconsequential way if only to remember that I can.

It's not fun, in so many words. It's work.

A job. A commitment, and, boy, I never tend to do well with those. And while that's the way it's felt for some time that's not how it started off. I look back into my archives and I marvel. Not only at the errors and typos that I'm too disheartened to correct but at the phrasing. The construction. The sheer energy and inventiveness that drips through my window into the past. And I look at the sort of posts I've been making lately and I'm ashamed. Because not only do I not think I'm getting better, I think, in many ways, I'm sliding backwards. Having lost whatever it was that drove me to make the kind of detailing, intricate posts that I'm just not making these days. To spend hours, if not days, researching and studying and practicing just to get a few thousand words right. Instead, I'm tossing off YouTube links and randomness like it's something to be proud of. I used to be, I should be, better than that. I didn't start this place to stand in for a diary or to post something, anything, in order to plus plus my count. No, I carved out this little corner in the internet because I wanted a place to find, to hone, my voice. Somewhere to get my thoughts, the deep ones, out there instead of being trapped inside my skull. There to die a lonely death in a crowded graveyards of forgotten plans and failed dreams.

I don't know, perhaps it's the approaching end of the year. The fin de sielce spirit that makes me look back and wonder why and how I've gone wrong to determine how I can do better. But this is my blog. It's mine. Entirely, completely, and utterly. A place over which I have effective control over everything that matters to me. If I'm not satisfied, I have no where to look but at my own efforts. And if I'm not enjoying it, I have no one to blame but myself.

And you'll forgive me for turning inward so, but I've done some thinking about it. And what I've decided is that what I've lost is the sense that this should be fun. That it's a hobby. A side project. One that, if I'm not enjoying myself after having devoted so much time and effort to it is one that I should probably stop trying to pursue. After all, if I'm not enjoying the way I spend my free time, why bother?

Only so many hours in the day, after all. Only so many days in my life. So why piss them away trying to put out the firey ruin of poorly laid plans and good intentions, I've set blazing here?

Which I suppose sounds rather apocalyptic, doesn't it? Like I'm gearing up to pull the plug and shutter the doors and slip away into the digital night or something. And let me just allay those fears because, no, I'm not even thinking about quitting. Instead, I'm thinking something that, unfortunately, crops up all too often in my life; that I haven't been living up to my potential. And trying to find the where, the why, and the how of it. Put bluntly, I'm not exactly happy with the way things have been going around here lately. I'm not sure what needs to change, even if anything does. Just that I'm tired of paddling as hard as I can just to stay afloat. Sooner or later, my arms are going to tire, and I'm going to slip under the waves, after all. Unless, of course, I can use whatever energy I have left to set out on a new path, to find a new way to paddle, to reach the shore that seems so far away.

I obviously need to think some more about this but I think the point which has taken me this far to reach is that I rather want to.


Anonymous said...

I get that feeling from time to time, too. Perhaps a solution may be to put less pressure on yourself to write to an audience and to churn out content, and focus on writing the type of posts that you were so proud of when you started?

Sausaletus Rex said...

Ah ah ah, someone's been peaking ahead in the script. And discovered the answer to the questions I'd posed in the first act. Skipping right over all the drama, the movement, I had in mind when I first dreamt up this post and the ones to follow. Back when a while ago, around the time I last changed my header, and had not the time to do them justice. A train of thought that led to a familiar conclusion yet unrevealed. Oh, how those yet unwritten posts sung with beauty, how they crackled with wit, and shone with a brilliance that shall now remain under the uncertain cloud of the unknown. Because, now, I'm just not going to post the rest. Out of spite. You ruined it for everyone Brinstar, and I hope you're happy.

See, this is why I think I'm a bad writer. The twists that I think are so wonderful and that I spend so much time meticulously crafter turn out to be simply predictable. That my breathlessly revelations, my excited insights, are going to be met by a shrug and a yawn. Of course, the answer to that difficulty is not to worry about whether or not the peanut gallery is trying to guess ahead but about whether or not they care enough to actually do so. If that small and vocal minority of the overall whole wants to know, want to predict, want to unravel the mystery before you unfold it with a masterly flourish, that just means that they're interested, invested, enough in the story you're telling to do so. It might seem like they're trying to ruin your work but they're not. Instead, they're trying to engage with it. To participate. To achieve a sense of ownership to the parts you've already ceded by placing it within the public sphere in the first place.

Of course, I could just as well take the contrarian point of view, too. And say that, you know, maybe the blog isn't the mad, thrilling dash of fun and excitement that the rose tinted glasses of memory have it being in those first few days and weeks and months. But that's the way it should be. We have moved beyond the initial experimentation with form and format, the beginning brush with a new and wonderful mental toy, and into the next phase. One of slower progression and greater difficulty as the curve of difficulty has ramped up considerably, requiring more effort but also promising more and richer rewards as the uphill climb towards ever-elusive mastery continues.

That, in so many words, it should feel difficult, it should feel like work, it should feel like I'm slaving away at the grindstone and pedaling like mad on the stationary bike for illusionary gains because that's exactly what it is, what it should be, and what it will be now that I'm past the point of inexperience. But rather than work, the proper analogy is with a romance. Like a relationship, we're in a state of comfortable familiarity that lacks the experimentation, the innovation, the constant stream of new and exciting things that interests someone with an attention span as brief as mine. Not that I'm any better with relationships than I am with industry, mind, and probably even less experienced but when you date someone, when you love someone, there comes a point when you're committed, invested. And beyond the initial rush and panic of emotions whirling around, it's not always easy, it doesn't always work, it might not seem worth it at times. And there are days you wake up and wonder why you bother and whether you might not be better off somewhere, somehow else. But you stay. You put in the time and effort that, when you get right down to it, you'd rather not, in order to make it work. Because the good times outweigh the bad and make the stream of mundane drudgery tolerable, somehow.

You don't spend every moment of every day madly and utterly in love, in other words, no matter how attracted you are to someone. It's an ebb. A flow of emotions as you ride the peaks and valleys of the time you share together. And while it might sound odd to compare a blog that I dabble with to the love of one's life, I think the basic principle remains the same. You get out what you put in. And I'm not digging a hole ever deeper, throwing good effort after bad. I shouldn't stop, I shouldn't swerve from my path, I should, instead, keep doing what I've been doing all along (With, you know, the wisdom of time and experience guiding me to make better choices, of course. Follow the river, don't stay the course and all that.). I'm struggling because nothing ever worth having comes as free and easy as it does at the first.

Perhaps a solution may be to put less pressure on yourself to write to an audience

The flippant response would be, What audience!? I get like five hits a month.

But, no, that would imply I actually care about what other people think about this place. That I want, I crave a legion of rabid fans and the attention that comes with them instead of being horrified at the prospect. No, the only audience I write for, the only audience I can write for is myself. I, you know, just have high standards. I'm the only one here who has to be satisfied with what I've accomplished because the only person I aim to please is myself. The pressure I feel, the tension is all placed on my shoulders by myself. And it's more to do with not being fast enough, good enough for lack of a better term, to keep up with the stream of ideas and thoughts and possibilities that flow daily through me than it is any attempt at playing to the crowd. That, in so many words, I could start in the morning and type out stream after stream of posts and still not have said everything I wanted to. And the lingering fear that I could if only I pressed hard enough. And worked longer, harder, faster. Pushing myself to overdrive, to burn out, as I can't keep up and grow frustrated with my frailty and failings. But, I think, the point we're both trying to get at is that it's better to work smarter rather than harder.