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Post posts / cui bono? - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Post posts / cui bono?
It is with a huge sigh of relief that I realise that today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. The closest I got to a SMART objective for the exercise was when I said, back on Day 1: "That's really all I'm aiming for this time: 30 (or more!) posts and a bit of mental decongestion". This will be the 32nd post this month, so that's the first target met (and since I'm already over the target I don't feel too guilty about today's being basically a meta-post); after all, I only specified quantity, not quality. What about the second?

Well, I managed to get a handful of posts onto my other blog, and one of those had been kicking around in my head for ages (not the one you'd expect). I managed to get a couple of half-finished posts out of the pipeline, and get some things out of notebooks and onto the web. I also managed to make myself sit down and write some of those posts longhand, and found that that was a much more successful way of writing. And I managed to write down a lot of stuff about school and the Oxford entrance exam which seemed to be of interest to some people. juggzy asked in a comment (sorry for not answering at the time):
When I've been ambling on about something, sometimes even only to myself, I've found that the act of writing things down gets things into focus while simultaneously places them firmly in the past; that was then. Do you feel that this is part of what is going on here?
and there's definitely some truth in that. I think they were already fairly firmly in the past, though -- they're stories I've told already, and re-telling them is just a process of filing them down at the edges until they fit the space set aside for them in my head. Of course, as that space changes, so the stories change. They don't become less truthful, just differently-angled. They also seem to become less relevant to anything; they're like ivory carvings from a vanished continent, and filing them down so that they look less like an elephant and more like a Ferrari doesn't modernise them, it just makes them look even more irrelevant, not even relevant to themselves.

The problem with making myself write down the things that have been kicking around in the back of my head for a while is that writing them down inevitably means reducing them. Nothing is ever as good on paper as it is in my head. It's like finding out that the dragons you saw on the wall of the cave were just shadows made with bits of sticks and paper held at funny angles. It's not even that I think the things in my head are that great; it's more that they can be seen from lots of angles if I'm not being forced to write them down. I had a dream once where I could say all the different things in my head at once and they came out of my mouth as visibly separate strands, and even just saying that renders it ridiculous where at the time it seemed transcendental. Writing down ideas is like forcing myself to shoot down the birds flying around in my head, to see them as a heap of brittle bone and feathers -- probably more useful for making bird pie, but it leaves the sky looking quite empty. No, none of the things I posted about this month were significant bird-shaped ideas from the mind's sky. Yes, I still have more pretentious ideas than you can imagine flapping around in there, squawking and ungainly, leaving their droppings and their disease all over my mental landscape. Picking at the carrion of other people's discarded ideas.

The other thing I was vaguely hoping that this month's blogging would do was get me into the habit of writing again. I'm not sure it's succeeded. All it's done is prove to me that a) I can still churn out content-free rubbish at the drop of a hat, and b) I won't have time to put in the effort required to write anything good unless I drop some of the other stuff I'm doing. As it is, trying to write something every day has squeezed out other things instead: I've hardly read anything, and I've been even worse at keeping in touch with people than usual, whether in LJ comments, facebook messages, or old-fashioned emails. I suspect some people are looking at the amount I've written on here and thinking "well if you wrote all that you could have replied to my email". I'm sorry. It's harder to write personal emails -- it matters more what I say. Also, email somehow seems to drain my energy faster than most other things (that's something else I was going to write about, but didn't get round to it). Maybe I should have made it Actually Replying To Email Month, or Not Being So Useless Month.

I haven't noticed anybody else on my flist doing NaBloPoMo (though there are people who probably do post every day), but I've been watching monkeyhands's NoFePhoMo (No Fear Phone Month) with interest. It seems like a more useful exercise because a) it wasn't just a target for the sake of having a target, and b) it actually got some phonecalls made which needed to be made; whereas I doubt if anything was improved by my having written another few thousand words of rubbish. Nobody would have minded if I hadn't made any of those posts. I have some kind of residual feeling that writing is a Good Thing, that creating is better than consuming; but if all I'm doing by "creating" is consuming people's time (and wasting space on the great big hard disks in LiveJournal Central, too, I guess) then what's the point?

And when I find myself asking "what's the point?" it's probably time to go and do something else, like have a cup of tea and go to bed. My NaBloPoMo is officially over. Maybe next month I'll have time to catch up with some of the last 30 days' comments.

ETA: I am out of the loop and/or I fail at friends-lists: oxfordhacker has had a successful NaBloPoMo too. Hopefully not blogging every day (apply brackets appropriately, YKWIM) will give me more time to catch up with other people's LJs...

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Comments
emperor From: emperor Date: November 30th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean about having something that seems good in your head but never quite comes out right on paper. I have LJ posts like that - I'll have for days a chain of thought that would make a great and interesting post, but when I come to write it, there's nothing there, or what there is isn't what I wanted, so the entry never gets written.

Or sometimes, I think "sod it", and inflict it on you poor sods anyway ;-)
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: December 1st, 2008 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I doubt if anything was improved by my having written another few thousand words of rubbish.

I, for one, enjoyed them, and disagree with your assessment of them as "content-free rubbish".

Nobody would have minded if I hadn't made any of those posts.

True, but they wouldn't have been there for us to enjoy.

I have some kind of residual feeling that writing is a Good Thing

Getting things off your mental to-write-about-at-some-point list is undoubtedly a good thing, however many wonderfully-plumed birds may still dot the skyline.

This will be the 32nd post this month, so that's the first target met

In conclusion: HURRAH! Well done, you!
From: scat0324 Date: December 1st, 2008 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I concur that I've enjoyed the extra posts from you (and others) over this last month. But since my posts are once-in-a-blue-moon material, I've no expectation anyone will continue to post more frequently!
bluedevi From: bluedevi Date: December 1st, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
IAWTC

I have also been enjoying them, in my tongue-tied way. It's inspired me to try and do the same in December. We'll see how long that lasts...
bluedevi From: bluedevi Date: December 1st, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a dream once where I could say all the different things in my head at once and they came out of my mouth as visibly separate strands, and even just saying that renders it ridiculous where at the time it seemed transcendental.

This gives me a weird little tingle of recognition. I had one with sort of multifaceted concepts made up of many different words, which could only be expressed properly by speaking all the bits at once. If you tried to say them, word by word, you'd be forcing a linear order and thus a particular, narrow, diminished meaning on them.

(Speaking of which, I know exactly what you mean about reducing things in the writing, too.)
monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: December 1st, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
The problem with making myself write down the things that have been kicking around in the back of my head for a while is that writing them down inevitably means reducing them. Nothing is ever as good on paper as it is in my head.

WORD.

I think you being ill for a lot of November has made NaBloPoMo more of a chore than it would've been otherwise, and the demotivation caused by the illness and tiredness is making you feel that it wasn't a worthwhile exercise. I think it was, and not just because it's been a treat reading something different from you every day. You've learnt about how much energy different things take out of you, for a start.

And even if you didn't learn anything, you can go into December feeling that suddenly you have extra time for Facebook and catching up on email and reading other people's LJs. "My house is a squash and a squeeze..."
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