Monday, September 14, 2015

Cutting Back

I was looking at some of my older blogs and feeling that they were good, but not great (at least the ones I read last night).  I say this, it’s not because I want to stop writing them; it’s because I want to do them better.  In fact, I want to do everything better.  I’m not talking about being obsessed.  There’s an old saying:  Good enough isn’t.  That saying comes from someone or something within us that will always be critical and never be happy and that’s not what I’m saying.  Good enough is.  And now I want to do better.
Honestly, I think I’ve done some of my best work with my blogs.  The sheer volume alone is amazing.  And I still think, without changing what I’ve done, I could do better as I move forward.  This isn’t a put-down of my past work.  I’ve declared my love for my Muse over 850 times.  And I want to do it 850 times 850 more times.
The truth is I miss doing this.  I miss writing and publishing five to ten times a week.  I miss the physical sensation of my fingers running over the keyboard and watching something spiritual and magical unfold.  I miss writing about (and to) my Muse.  I miss writing about my House on the Beach and Purpose and the Enemy.  I miss reminding others (and myself) to Get Started and Keep Going.
Why then did I stop?
On a practical level I stopped because I began a Master’s Degree program in US History and that took up all of my time.  That’s the story I use anyway.  It’s partially true, but I know I could use my time more effectively.
But as a writer I stopped because I stopped growing.  I felt that I wasn’t saying anything new.
But here’s the thing (and the following analogy isn’t mine, I just can’t remember where I read it): We can’t grow all the time.  Too much growth is unhealthy for any organism, even writers.  Sometimes we have to cut back.  Sometimes we have to rest.  Sometimes the work has to be pruned of excess.  I once had roses that grew to be over six feet tall.  I had a gardener and one day while I was at work he cut everything down.  When I got home I was quite upset.  All my giant roses were gone.  But soon they returned to a more reasonable height.  The truth is that they looked ridiculous before.  Now they looked better.  My whole garden looked better.
In the same way I think my writing will be better because I cut back.  It could be better if I read more.  I think I could edit my work more effectively before putting it out there.  Many of my blogs were first drafts with little or no editing.  (This is a second draft; the first was handwritten.)  I think I could go deeper into my subject or maybe expand into new areas.  Or maybe do both.   I can keep looking for my voice. Finally, I think I shouldn’t worry so much about the numbers.  And I think I should do more.  If that sounds like a contradiction, it is.  Life is full of complementary contradictions.  I’m okay with that.
There are three questions we can ask when we are doing something meaningful:
·      What do I want?
·      Why do I want it?
·      Who do I want it for?

The answer to the last question can be, “I want it for myself.”  But it can also be:
·      I want it for God.
·      I want it for the woman I love.
·      I want it for my kids.
·      I want it for people I haven’t met yet.
·      I want it for the world.
It could be for someone imaginary though sometimes that imaginary audience is just a hidden part of us.  But we’re doing what we do for a reason and for someone.  And we stop for the same reasons. 

I had to cut back in order to grow.  I had to remember what I wanted, why I wanted it, and whom I was doing it for.  I remember now and so I’m able to Get Started and Keep Going.