Putter downer of words

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

I’m beginning to see a pattern here. You see, there comes a time every so often when I realize that this writing thing is not working, not because I’m a bad writer (the jury still remains out on that question—for now, let’s say that I’m not much of a writer, but I do, at times, put down words on paper, and if you want to get technical, then, yes, I am a putter downer of words, which, in a way, makes me a writer), but my writing is not working because, as I put it so freakishly in the last parenthetical, I’m not putting down enough words.

I can’t quantify these ebbs and flows (yet). A project I thought of as I wrote the last paragraph (and something I think I’ve thought up before and ignored, as I will likely do again) is to prepare a graph of my writing output. I’ll fit the time for preparation in between cleaning up this website, spending time with Doolies, pretending to work on a “wedding website” (after I told Chuck about this project, he remarked, most wonderfully,

I wonder if the world is really ready for something so radical and groundbreaking as an engagement/wedding site. I admire your trailblazing spirit, but are you sure you don't want to let a few other engaged couples try it out before plunging head-first into such a bold undertaking?

And, yes, Doolies, that is why I’ve backpedaled on my promise to finish the engagement site. I can’t take the ridicule. Blame it all on Chuck), work of course, and life in general—the traveling, entertaining, thinking, reading, etcetera. The data collection for this project shouldn’t take very long, and then it’s a matter of drawing a pretty graph in Excel and posting it. Perhaps I’ll automate it! (That’s always where I get in trouble—I’ve been wanting to automate much more in the redesign, e.g., I’m thinking of a live webcam outside my home-office window—another absolutely original idea—which, the window, that is, has a nice view of the lake (and wires).)

But I digress (as usual). Getting back to my writing, this is one of those times where I have to stop making excuses and start showing production. I wasn’t lying to you over the last couple of weeks when I said I wrote parts of a story. In the end, my unfinished story came in at a whooping 7,311 words, which doesn’t include probably another 1,000 or so words I started on a rewrite. As I said before, in the end, I failed. The story went where it usually goes—i.e., nowhere—and I had to “fish or cut bait,” and clearly you saw which path I took. I’m comfortable with that, and I’ve so far resisted the urge to share my failings with the world because, while I’m masochistic about my writing, even those urgings have their limits. During the Marathon, I have plenty of excuses for poor grammar, spelling, structure, style. I figure, there are tens of thousands of other people posting their writing during that month for their mother’s to read. My pride swells at the thought (or at least, I should say, doesn’t deflate nearly as much as it normally would) of how terrible those people’s writings are compared to my most awful of projects. I know, whatever helps me sleep at night, and during November, I sleep like a bear.

But not posting also enabled me to cheat. I would write and post the numeric output, but my incentive for finishing was not the same without having to show my work. I could always say I wrote another five hundred words, even if those five hundred words were backpedaling to rewrite a scene I had already sketched out. My point—and I do have a point, which I’m grasping at like trying to pick invisible spider strands from my hair—is that part of the reason I stopped writing was because I didn’t have a plan, a deadline, and a goal. My goal was to finish the story, and when it started becoming hard (as writing, at some point, always becomes), I lost interest, and without the goal and the website pushing me on, I had nothing to show for myself, and I allowed weeks to pass by, secure in the knowledge that nobody was watching and I’d get back to it as soon as my next brilliant idea came. Of course, no ideas came and I became less and less interested in continuing, until I find myself here, right now, trying to excuse my behavior for the last month, and figure out a way to fix it in preparation for the Marathon (and, in general, for my writing life, or WL).

To set another goal I will break in short order, I will try to write at least 1k words each day until the Marathon begins. I know this is much less than my usual 2k words, but I want to try to cut out some of the filler, and edit what I write (after I write it—I’m staying with the stream of consciousness first draft because it’s the only way I can create words). Obviously, I didn’t accomplish much in the way of editing today, but that’s okay because I didn’t accomplish much in the way of writing either, I just pushed more words. Now, back to redesigning my website (or watching movies or doing something other than having to think about saying something meaningful).

In other news, today is the second day of the Jewish New Years. I usually visit my family this time of year, but because the holiday fell out in the middle of the week (the Jewish calendar is different from the Gregorian calendar’s days, and consequentially the holidays fall out differently each year), we decided not to visit NYC until Thanksgiving.

The Jewish New Years, or Rosh Hashanah, is a time of reflections. While I’m not (by any taffy-like stretch of the imagination) an observant Jew, I do appreciate this holiday because it gives me the opportunity to take a few days off from work and look back over the year and see the things I did right, and the things I didn’t do so right. This has been a busy year: engagement, new job (arguably, I had this job last year around this time, but give me some leeway on my reflections), getting comfortable in the Castle, etcetera. I will give more thought to what (if anything) I want to say about these reflection next week, during Yom Kippur, which I plan to sit around, try not to eat (it’s a fast day), and attempt to meditate, which is the only form of praying I’ve been able to muster since childhood. (And, yes, mom, it’s because I can’t accept death and because I blame all the bad things that happened to me on that ridiculous invisible intangible green alien that supposedly lives in the sky.)

For the record, I made the goal today: 1,203—and this without real caffeine (only some chocolate, which I had to scavenge during a terrible moment of chocolate fever this afternoon).

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