Monday, April 21, 2014

I Had a Lot to Say; Opinions Were Like Kittens, I Was Giving Them Away

I am probably going to start posting less frequently from now on.

Now, now! I can hear you starting to hyperventilate from here. No need to assume the worst. Allow me to explain:

TIME. I have three jobs — a "day job" and two of my own self-employed, working-mostly-from-home side jobs. There's at least several days a month where I work something like a typical shift from nine-ish till four-ish, then come home, eat a quick meal, and put in another few hours on one of the other jobs until bedtime. I'm not complaining — I pretty much enjoy my work, it pays the bills, and it absolutely beats climbing on roofs in the blazing July sun or inching on my belly through a filthy crawl space, as I had to do a few years ago. But even an antisocial bore like me has other things to do sometimes, and a couple hours before bed isn't always enough time to scour the web looking for things to write about.

Speaking of other things to do, I want to start devoting more time to my first love, music. Long before I ever considered trying to capture my thoughts in prose, I was writing and recording songs. Rheumatoid arthritis put that facet of my artistic expression on indefinite hiatus, and momentum, once lost, is hard to generate again. But now, personal technology being what it is these days, I no longer have to be content with my old, lo-fi, basement 4-track recordings. A friend of mine with a home studio and extensive recording experience has offered to help me if I need it, so I'm going to go through my old songs, rewrite some of them, and attempt to record final versions I can proudly listen to for the rest of my life.

INSPIRATION. One thing I've noticed, when forced to go several days without much web browsing, is how difficult it is to get back into the swing of it. Some of it is information overload — there's just too much stuff competing for attention, most of it ephemeral and worthless. For an introvert like me, it's very similar to the real-life feeling of walking into a frenetic environment full of frivolous chatter. It takes a while to get used to it, and the temptation is always to get quickly irritated and walk off in a huff. Rolf Dobelli was correct — I've read books written twenty years ago that still provide more knowledge, context and perspective than anything I'm likely to encounter on the web. (And lord knows I've still got a two-foot tower of books waiting to be read.)

Over the last few years, I've been averaging slightly over a post per day. I found it useful to aim for that standard, because I could easily have been the sort of person to endlessly nitpick over a post otherwise. The relaxed, informal medium of blogging is good for countering that tendency — get the idea down with a minimum of fuss, publish and move on. You can always return to the topic again later if you think of anything else to add. But I think I've gotten all the benefits I can from that approach by now. And in all honesty, I'm not possessed of much depth or breadth to my knowledge. I have a pretty limited bailiwick, and I've covered just about everything within it, sometimes repeatedly. (See here, ferzample. What can I possibly add to what I've already said?) I've never wanted to write crap just to fill space, and I've never wanted to repeat myself just because it's what I, or others, have come to expect. I'm not trying to create a personal brand here, or supply people with predictable entertainment. Calling myself an official "writer" would seem absurdly pretentious and overly serious, though, and calling this blog a journey of my personal growth and development would be nauseatingly sappy and New Age workshop-y, so I guess I'll repeat what I said before: if anything, I'm aiming to emulate the informal, irreverent spirit of Montaigne's Essays, while possibly becoming better as both a writer and thinker. I enjoy those things for their own sake, with no thought of recognition or reward. Now, though, I think I'd prefer to spend days, or even weeks, collecting my thoughts and writing them down, as opposed to hours. William Deresiewicz was also correct — eventually, you need to allow time for your reservoir to refill if there's going to be any depth to your thought. (Coincidentally, that's the topic of another book I'll be reading soon.)

With all that said, let me reiterate: I'm probably going to be posting less frequently. I'm not quitting, and I don't ever intend to. I truly love the amateur writing I do here. I just think the pace of my output will noticeably decrease, and thought it would only be polite to let you know in advance. I would not be at all surprised, though, if the Fates or some mischievous trickster deity arranged for me to look incredibly foolish in saying this by dropping a bunch of irresistible material on me at various times — indeed, I almost expect it. There may be bursts of activity punctuating fallow periods. And, who knows, if things continue to go according to plan, I may very well find myself with enough free time to make all this time-budgeting moot. So, we'll see, but that's how it's shaping up at the moment.