January 7, 2023

On Writing

A quick note about how I'm starting to default, pertaining to writing in this weblog with notations:

I enjoy writing. I've been told that I'm a good writer. When I am told that my writing is good, I blush and think that I have a very long way to go to be considered a good writer. When I am told that I am a good writer, I thank the kind person for the compliment and shut up about my self doubt about the matter.

I think sometimes that I could be a writer if I applied myself to the art. This involves time, of course. I don't have the time. I' have heard/read elsewhere that writing is really editing. This blog is largely a compilation of first drafts. Therefore, this isn't writing and I am not a writer.

The general process of *writing* for me is to jot notes as the thoughts arise as quickly as possible. Before, I would settle down and try to cohere the notes into something resembling an essay. Regardless of the length of the piece, this is an absorbing task for me, a task that eventually rivals the time I need for painting and associated studio activity. If editing is writing, then writing is a bottomless well. Every time I review an essay, I see new mistakes, new phrasing that can be polished, new architecture.   Every.   Time.   Therefore, pressing the "publish" button is settling for a potential "lesser" edit. If I drilled down on my writing, I would be jeopardizing my time for painting. Painting requires chops. Chops requires time. If writing threatens painting, painting would slit its throat and hold it down until it bleeds out.

[Maybe that last bit was too much? Well, this is a first draft, after all. *shrug*]

For the past several years, I've relied on the Notes App to compile my thoughts. I've labeled a category of notes as "BLOGSAC". Lately, I have started to use the checklist function to bullet point the thoughts into some kind of rudimentary shape. Usually, I'm on the subway on the way to my studio. Recently, I'm starting to conclude that short of becoming a real writer, I can simply post the notes. With a minimal amount of editing, this might suffice. So, this is the plan going forward. After all, it's the ideas that count the most. And for me, ideation cascades like waterfall.


Another thought arises as I write this, one to the contrary to all I wrote above.

Before the Information Age -a fancy term meaning before computers- in my youth and for centuries before, people wrote in longhand on paper. People wrote letters and one had to gird their loins before ink met paper. A person's mind had to summon the totality of their thought and in a more Classical Epoch, the structure of their thought had to conform to an order of beginning, middle and end.

Even within the fragment of a checklist, an idea has to present itself and tributary thoughts stream out from the source in lesser and lesser rivulets. So even in your humble author's lesser fingertips, a fragment of classicism remains, even within a bullet point. Maybe, just maybe, I see the glint of the possibility of reclaiming an old skill that was just about to wither on the vine, the neural vine of my mind, on a laptop... or the thumb pad of a cell phone. Maybe by restricting myself to first drafts, I can gird my loins once again and make the digital act like ink drying on paper.

Posted by Dennis at January 7, 2023 12:24 PM

Leave a comment