Middling

This probably won’t be the best thing I’ve ever written. And that’s okay.

I mean, it probably won’t be the worst either, but something about comign to terms with that is extremely freeing. A friend of mine, a PhD student and super duper smart lady, retweeted something that said along the lines of “Your next job probably won’t be your last job. In fact, it probably won’t. And that’s okay”, as mostly a message towards academics not to worry about being locked down into a singular research/teaching oriented job their whole lives.

Now, as the eleventy-hundred other posts about the topic might have alerted you, I struggle a lot with anxiety and procrastination. It makes me dread doing the things that give me joy as well as the typical drudgery stuff (in fact, in a lot of cases, the drudgery stuff ends up feeling EASIER to do). I’ve wracked my brain to figure out why I have so much trouble, and I think a piece of the puzzle lies in the above frame of thinking.

Thinking of the next thing I create (the next video, the next blog article, the next test) as the thing I’ll be defined by, it turns into this BEHEMOTH of a thing that will make or break me, and, like someone avoiding the final quest in a game because they don’t want it to end, I find some way to put it off or force myself to momentarily forget that it exists.

But the reality is that, for better or worse, I’m not going to know whether or not this is The One, or just another of the thousands of iterations on my way to it, until well after the fact. Hindsight is 20/20, but I would add the addendum that forecasting is fantasy. No one knows the impact or irrelevancy of anything that they do until after they do it (beyond a certain point anyways), least of all with art.

So basically, my fellow lovelies, my passionate artists and headcases of every stripe, I would say: Make mediocre shit until you make something that isn’t. There’s a good chance you won’t know the difference until you’re finished anyways.

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Writer’s Block

My brain feels kind of fried today. I got up plenty early, started time tracking, started my work warm-up ritual of reading for 30 minutes…. I could barely get through 15 before my vision started to haze over and my attention started drifting. I have a blogging assignment in my Computers and Society class I have to do by the 28th. We got to choose our topic, and I chose the subject of how the internet can help those dealing with mental illness. Now, by all means this is a topic I’m particularly passionate about. I have plenty of information to link in, and a vested interest in the topic. But when I sit down to write…

Nothing. Okay, well not nothing. More accurately, an opening paragraph that could’ve been spewed out of any high school student with a modicum of writing ability. I could tell just by reading it over, it wasn’t really my voice. It’s one of those little intangible obstacles with writing, writing with your voice. When it’s there you can feel like whatever it is that you’ve written is YOURS, whole and unique. Even if the message is the same as someone else, the method is your literary fingerprint. The opposite experience is what I had this morning; kind of an amorphous gray blob of text. The ideas are there but the phrases and expression isn’t. Or if they are, they don’t so much get written so much as they congeal into something vaguely resembling Chapter 1 of A Beginner’s Introduction to Writing¬†<–not an actual textbook. Well, actually, wait. Yeah. With a name that generic it probably is. Anyways. Wouldn’t be half as annoying if the due date weren’t looming like that black monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

That being said, the past couple days (since I gave myself a kick in the ass in my last post) have been much better. I’ve started time-tracking EVERYTHING, not just work periods. Meal durations, clean-up, showers, internet breaks between working, everything. Just having the data there adds a structure to the day that helps a lot. It’s satisfying, in the same way I felt when I first started keeping budget and body composition spreadsheets. It compresses an airy-fairy, qualitative phenomenon into something quantitative that I can compartmentalize and put to work for me, rather than the other way around. There are still usually one or two things I miss or forget to do per day, but with the amount of progress I’m making in other areas I’m happy to take the bad with the good and be grateful for the latter. Making a couple more job applications today. Hopefully that turns up something.

Oh! Also, I picked up the latest book I am to review for the e-zine I write for. It’s actually pretty awesome so far. I’ve only had it for a bit over a day and I’m already half way through it. It’s called The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith. Check it out on Amazon or what have you if you get the chance. The blurb on the back does a better job of describing the plot than I currently can. It’s really riveting though and definitely worth a look.

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Vince