Monday, June 24, 2013

Equal Parts Desire and Execution Then Add Time

My friend Christina is a young woman. It's funny because I generally preface any personal anecdote with these words: “I am a young man,” because, well, I am. But with this anecdote, Christina is a young woman. In fact, next to her, I am an old man. We still get on famously. We talk words. She loves Charles Bukowski. Although I do hold a certain level of appreciation for Bukowski, I still maintain that reading it is like watching a dog kill a pigeon. It baffles me that I know so many young women who like Bukowski as much as they do. But it's more than Bukowski between Christina and me. We talk cars, we talk writing, we talk personal tragedy. We talk about writing and waiting tables and the ills of the Internet. I like Christina a lot.

Christina is a new addition to my circle. We've just met in recent weeks. She's a writer. As close as I can tell, other than her, I am the only other writer in the restaurant where we work. Sure, I have other buddies, colleagues and co-conspirators who write, maintain blogs and are doing things, but Christina is the only one with the desire to just write. Before I go on, please see these blogs: Secret Lexicon, Night Heir, Owl Curiosity and From A to Zenith.

So, Christina and I went to the Tugboat for beer and blogs about a week back. We'd just come off a long shift at work, and admittedly I was exhausted. It didn't take long to feel revived: it might have been the beer, it might have been the philosophical banter about writing, it might have been the viewing of our blogs. Whatever it was, it was nice to be around another writer.

In many ways, this story could the way of a Call to Arms. It could go the way of The Writer and the Blog. And it could go like this: just sit down and write, don't compare yourself, your work, or your position to others. Do not be competitive, but choose to be supportive. Know that you must write and that's all. If you have the desire to write, just write. Commit to it. And then add time.

So, there we were, Christina and I. We looked over this blog. I showed her the mechanics of how the blog works. For those of you with a blog, you've seen it all before. For those of you without one, I assure you the back end of how it works is very easy. I assured my friend Christina of this too.

“Wow,” I can't believe how much you've written,” she said. “It's not much,” I said. “What're you talking about, look at all this,” she said. I took a sip of the beer. I looked at the computer screen. “Yeah,” I said. “You got to remember, I've been doing this for a long time.”

It's suddenly in perspective. I am no longer 21 years old. My age, well double the last number you see and that's getting pretty close. When I consider my age, and the number of years I have been writing I come to a new thought. The thought is, well, I've been writing since before my friend Christina was born. That's a long time. And when I say it isn't much, it really isn't. I think a prolific writer can write 20 pages a day. A modest writer will write one page a day. A lazy writer may write just a few pages a week. Either way, over a period of 25 years, it comes to a substantial amount of work.

So, what about Christina?

I had the feeling that she was hung up on details. I feel like that happens to me occasionally. I feel like that happens to many writers I know. I had the feeling like she wanted to just jump in the proverbial pool, but was uncertain of where to do so. She wanted to start her blog right there at the Tugboat, but was not sure what to call it. If you want my advice, please see The Writer and the Blog.

Where do you begin?

I don't really remember where I began. On the pages of school lined paper, I suspect. I started on a cheap heat transfer Casio typewriter. I continued on inside wide ruled composition notebooks. I learned how to use word processors. I did it one page at a time. Like all of us, I used the tools. Like all of us, I have had the prolific times and the lazy times and I'm grateful for all the times between.

Decide to write, or make art, or build something.
Learn about it by doing it.

Add time. Some day, you will not wonder where the time went, you'll only see the volume of your efforts.

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