02 December 2004 by Published in: writing No comments yet

The server appears to be acting up at the moment, so I’ll compose
my blog entry in my trusty vi window and paste it into the blog
later. My mind is in a lot of different places today, so I’m going
to make a real effort to be focused. We’ll see if it works. Let me
start with a writing update, as I haven’t done one for the week,
yet. On Monday, as I mentioned on that day, I did no writing of
substance. On Tuesday, I wrote 276 words on what might be a new
novel, but is currently just a bunch of flailing in a novel-like
direction. It’s tough because I have a lot more things to work out
than I have worked out so far, and so I’m writing blind, scenes that
may or may not end up in the actual piece just to get myself
acquainted with the world(s) and its people. It’s also new
territory for me in that it’s vaguely science fictiony and even
though it’s not meant to be hard science fiction and I actually have
not much interest in hard science fiction, I’m still a little
intimidated by the number of things I’m just making up as a I go
along that aren’t strictly cordoned to science as we understand it
today. We’ll see how it goes. On Wednesday I added another scene
and a half to the existing material on the new novelish thing to
bring the total word count to 2110. That means my word count for
Wednesday was 1834, which is the first time in several days I’ve had
a word count for the day I consider respectable. Today I had some
things to work through and get off my chest, so I wrote some stuff
that I hoped would work therapeutically for me, and produced a very
difficult 545 words. Maybe tomorrow there will be working on the
novelish thing again. I would like that.

I imagine there are people who don’t understand why I post my
word counts all the time, so I thought I’d explain. I found during the
years that I participated during NaNoWriMo that a word count is a non-judgmental way to note progress. It says
nothing about the quality of the writing, true, but it does show
that I’m still arranging the words in sentences and carrying along,
which shows me in a concrete way that days that may feel wasted are
not necessarily so. That helps me. I don’t trust myself to stick
to it without some goals and an outward measure of what I’m doing.
Some people probably think my methodology is a little crazy. They
could very well be right. Still, it seems to be working for me, and
I’m going to keep at it so long as it does. It also helps me to note what
I’ve done publicly, and that’s why I do more than jot the output of
wc -w currentstory.txt on a post-it. Alas, for those of you who
wish they were reading about other things, dreams or minutiae of my
life or my more essay-like posts or one of my rare rants, this is probably
a little annoying, but as it benefits me, expect to continue to see it.

As predicted, I’ve already received complaints on my blogging
habits. A reader notes,”i worry that once you get moved in and
everything put away that you’ll sit around and blog every 15 seconds
because there won’t be anything left to do”. This concern shows a
serious misapprehension in the reason I blog. It assumes that I
blog because I have nothing better to do. On the contrary, I carve
out time to blog. I fight with other quite pressing arenas of my
life to post consistently. When my blog contains minutiae such as lists, it
is rarely because I’m bored and trying to bore you as well, but
because I like to use such techniques to illustrate things about both my
life and my approach to it. Sometimes (frequently, of late) I may
be trying to get across information about writing methodology, but at other
times it has been parenting methodology or other aspects of my life instead.
I have all kinds of better (and worse) things to do than blog. I try to
persist at blogging because it seems worthwhile, although obviously not
everyone agrees with me on that. Before I moved to St. Louis, I had a
blogging goal of making an entry half of the days of the month. I keep the
calendar on the upper left hand corner not because I think readers use it
to navigate my blog. They probably never do. I use it as a quick glance
at the month, to see how many days I’ve made entries on and how many
days I missed. I made my earlier posting goal in August, by the way. In
November, I blew it away, posting almost every day. I missed some days
every week of November, so I’m a very long way from posting
“every 15 seconds”. After November’s success though, especially considering
I was moving and off the internet for quite a bit of that time, I’m
thinking about expanding my blogging goals. I could set myself the goal of
blogging five days a week. It’s kind of difficult to know whether to
commit myself to that, because I want to use the blog as the place to fall
back to when the real writing isn’t, for whatever reason, happening as I
wish it to. I don’t want my blogging goals to interfere with my writing
goals. However, committing to a blog post isn’t quite the same as committing
to writing because a post can be very short and still count and still say
something worthwhile. At any rate, whether self-fulfilling prophecy
or prescience on my part, the complaints on my blogging have
officially begun.

There’s something interesting that I’ve been noticing for quite
some time, not just in my blog but in others where comments are
allowed, which is that comments rarely -if ever- have anything to do
with the post they are attached to. More often than not, when someone
makes a comment, their point is only tangentially related to what
I’ve discussed in the post. Often the comment says much more about
the person commenting that it does about me or what I’ve written. I know
this is a vague generalization and does not always apply. I would point
to places and particulars where it does apply, but I’m not interested in
singling people out right now. It has made me wonder what the function of
comments really is, and whether I need them at all.

The comments people make, both on and off the blog, about the
blog and my blogging make me wonder a little bit about my writing
ability. I seem to be consistently failing to get across the points
I’m trying to get across. Well, that’s not quite right, as most of
the blog-writing I do doesn’t have A Point in quite that
way, but rather usually tries to make any number of observations and
elucidations. What I mean is that usually the main thrust of what I’m
getting at is often ignored. People focus on one sentence, or a
throwaway comment, or an aside. Why is that? Is it because people are
reading themselves in my words? Do they latch on to what makes sense
to them, what identifies to them, what relates to them? In this
sense, my blogging would be a great success, because part of it is
about the universality of the human condition. On the other hand,
can I really be comfortable with what appears to be a failure to
get messages out? Or should I be reassured that people have involved
themselves and have picked up on something, regardless of what it was
and whether it was the main thing I was getting at? Once I put my words
out there, I have, presumably, done my best at saying what I want to
say. Should I have any room to complain that people aren’t reading it
the way I want them to? Is it snobbery of me to say people don’t
get it? Or sloppiness that people don’t seem to follow what I’m
hoping to say? Am I actually saying things that I don’t realize I
am saying? And are those unconsciously said things drowning out
what I’m trying to get across? Should I be checking every sentence for
clarity, or just let it go? How much value is there in the
spontaneity of what I write, and does the need for simplicity and
succinctness outweigh the lack of editing? And does this have any bearing
on fiction writing, or is that a completely different fruit? Many more
questions than there are answers, I am afraid. If I come to any conclusions
on this, I’m sure you’ll hear about them, or hear something that may or
may not be what I’m actually saying.


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