Thursday, April 20, 2006

Buffer Underrun

After promising to slice up my backlog into bite-sized bits so as to avoid the oh-so-Josh-Glover long run-on entry, I have delivered. Absolutely nothing, that is, which is another Josh Glover classic.

I guess one of the joys of the blog is that you get to write on your clock; no pressure, no deadlines. And in the beginning, that is liberating and fun. You just slap down some narration about whatever is going on in your life and the world around you. But after awhile, maybe you start to feel like you have gotten your point of view out there, told your stories, and now it is hard to find things to write about. So it starts becoming more like work; you have to write about this, that, and the other, and it has to be up by tomorrow. After all, you have a responsibility to the people that read your blog, right?

Oops, now you are back to deadlines and responsibility.

I am a creative person, and have been able to write some pretty good stuff from time to time. But I'll be the first to tell you, writing is hard work. It is worth it when the muse hits, when your pen or keyboard can barely keep up with the fountain of prose rising from your mind, each drop sparkling majestically in the sunlight before falling perfectly on the page. It is worth it when you have written and re-written, and finally have a piece you are proud of.

But that is by and large not what blogging is about. Blogging is about sharing your work in a rawer state. And it is less rewarding to the reader, since sentences are not polished, the train of thought is not necessarily advanced.

But what blogging lets you do, in theory, is experience most of the joy of writing without the hard work. Professional writers will be the first to tell you that waiting for the muse to strike is not a way forward. You have heard the saying that everyone has one novel in them? Well, in less that one novel is "The Da Vince Code", which has sold just under a bajillion copies, one novel does not a living make. Just ask Stephen King, one of the most commercially successful writers out there. Writing is hard work, and the way to attract the muse to to keep at it. I will be the first to admit that the muse is more likely to strike in the midst of composition than out there in the wide world. It is also said that writers are always writing, and there is some truth in that as well. If you are a creative person and a storyteller, ideas for stories can explode into your brain suddenly, with just a glimpse of something or someone. But that is just the beginning, and it is not writing. Inspiration happens more often than the muse comes to call.

I think that is not just true of writing, but of most things in life. The lucky, the successful, are quite often the ones who are just willing to work harder than the rest of us. Sure, Einstein and Newton and Edison were all geniuses. But they were also men on a mission. Edison famously said that "genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration", and it is widely known that it took Edison many failed tries before achieving a success. But that should be inspiring to all of us! The message is that perserverance, mated with an inquisitive and agile mind, yeilds results.

And I have seen that in my life. I have been able to accomplish some pretty worthwhile things when I kept at it, and did not settle for sloppy solutions that just worked.

Same deal with writing. I can occasionally turn out a first draft that works with minimal effort, just riding some inspiration. But to turn that into something that I can be proud of, that requires some real dedication, and the willingness to fail 99 times before I get it right.

Unfortunately for my love of writing, I love programming even more, and that is where any creative talent that I have must be spent. So my blog is a way of getting what I like out of writing without having to put in the effort required to get what I love out of writing. And it can be fun to read, both for my family and friends, and for myself. And maybe sometimes for Netizens that don't know me at all, when I have a wacky Japan story to tell.

I guess the point of this entry is to admit that I don't have the motivation it takes to deliver stellar writing. And I do not enjoy blogging when I place pressure on myself to do it. So I have to accept that I will write when I have something to say, and I won't worry about it when I don't. Sounds fair to me.

So no more promises of entries to come that I cannot keep without sacrificing quality or my free time. Blogging is supposed to be a release, not just another way to make yourself feel guilty about your laziness.

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