1 Nov 2012

Why don't I write (more)? Part 2

So, earlier this evening I finally broke the four-month long hiatus that this blog has been mired in, and naturally it was a self-indulgent meta-blog (i.e. a blog about blogging). I never actually take the 'like ripping off a band aid'* attitude to things, but let's pretend I do since, whilst I do want to write about this sort of thing (otherwise I, er, wouldn't. Unless I somehow had to for school, but I can't see that ever happening), I want to make this pain as short lasting for you as possible.

Especially since, whilst I will at least try to relate things to the hiatus (well, gap in updates; 'hiatus' is really overstating things and implies that I had half-decent reasons for it (spoiler warning: I didn't)), a better name for this may very well turn out to be 'Why do I write?'.

At the same time, maybe analysing the reasons to write might be a better answer to the question of why I don't/didn't write more than my previous post, which is slightly on the descriptive, rather than the explanatory, side.

 Back on the meta discussion (rather than the meta meta), I suppose I'd best get the obligatory George Orwell link out of the way.

It's not a terrible essay. Actually, rereading it, it's pretty good (if amusingly borderline objectivist in places), and I can see why it's the go to reference for this sort of thing.

In addition to this, the four reasons Orwell listed pretty much sum up the reasons why I write. Welp, I guess this entire thing was stupid. Show's over guys.

Yeah, that was a pretty crappy fake out. Anyway, it sort of strikes me that the biggest reasons why I don't write more are much the same as the reasons cited as reasons to write (which are also the reasons I do write beyond school and getting my thought down somewhere):
  • Sheer egoism: Well, whilst the "desire to seem clever, to be talked about [for the right reasons], to be remembered after death [for good things], to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc" is pretty damn powerful, the desire not to seem stupid, not be talked about/remembered for the wrong things and not to prove those adults right can be at least as powerful. It all comes down to whether your main motivation in life is  desire for success or fear of failure and, whilst I have my own personal speculation as to the reasons for this, I definitely have come down on the latter side of the fence far too often. This is certainly a major factor in the large gaps between posts, and also the clustering of them (if I post 2 posts in a month, they're probably within a few days of each other, since I tend to get phases where my ego runs on high). I'd also reason that, whilst the political purpose is an element in this, there is also a duality between the desire to be agreed with and to be not disagreed with, both with regards to the propagation of your views.
  • Aesthetic enthusiasm: Actually, I'd say for most people (i.e. me) this is a major deterrent to writing - people (read: I) have a distinct fear that it won't turn out just right according to their (my) internal style guide, which may or may not be ever changing to 'not this'. I assume I must've turned it off or something. This also ties into why I decided to time these posts with NaNoWriMo starting - I figured it would get me into the right mindset (I'm not even taking part properly but, ironically, I'm more ahead than when I have taken part) - and it's certainly about turning off the 'inner editor' (i.e. aesthetic enthusiasm) which appears to act as a kill or cure type dealy. I'd say it's not even really a reason for writing, as much as a deterrent. But maybe I'm not really a writer.
  • Historical impulse: The desire to store the facts for posterity, for me at least, also leads to a bit of fear of getting them wrong and this mistake getting into the books as fact. 
  • Political purpose: This is a pretty strong reason for writing, and the hardest to fit into my 'also reasons not to write' thing, but when you consider how many things, even explicitly political, are taken out of context (see: the absurd amount of merch of a certain famous Maoist revolutionary for starters), maybe the fear of being misinterpreted will stop people speaking in the first place? (read: I am actually afraid of this happening despite me thinking of you guys as not being idiots). 
Ultimately, I have to say that all of these boil down to sheer egoism - in having a political purpose, one generally assumes that one is right and will be remembered, the historical impulse assumes a high profile either way, having an aesthetic enthusiasm also generally involves ensuring that you're remembered for the right reasons, and that when you finally pop up and say 'hello world' you will be remembered and therefore want everything to be perfect**. And by 'you' there, I obviously mean me.

Both of these things amount to having a massive ego, the only question being whether it's big enough to avoid collapsing into a black hole (or even a neutron star) and sucking everything in. More elegantly put (and therefore to quote someone else) "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure".

At the same time, and having written all these words about writing, I don't really view myself as a writer. I do enjoy writing, and I am blatantly writing something here (also, I do certainly slide into that sort of selfish 'I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will not live for the sake of another man, or ask him to live for me' attitude (which is definitely partially there) from time to time ("all writers are vain, selfish, and lazy"? Well, I can't claim to be an exception), but, at the same time, I lack the certainty at making it my life that Orwell hints at*** and the patience for long form work (I'd blame this on the Internet, but I get the sense that if I had sufficient determination it wouldn't be an issue. See: how much I've written today alone). In addition to this, the label is one of those which is connected with being as pretentious as hell, but, if that forms a part of my reason for my rejection of the label, there is certainly an element of non-hipster irony to it (speaking of hipsters, it's like how you can spot them by the person dissing hipsters (guess who that describes! (I even wear the bloody glasses!)). Furthermore, have I really written enough? I ain't so sure (although me even entertaining the notion of being called as such certainly shows that I have the massive ego Orwell describes.

Of course, maybe the biggest reason I don't write more is that I simply got into the habit of not writing? Actually, that is probably it, but I'm not going to let 2000 odd words of navel-gazing and introspection go down the crapper, especially since 1000 odd words of it are already here, online, and published. Plus, y'know, sheer egoism. Also, it's another crappy fakeout, but at the same time, I have to say it is a factor I really should have considered before.

PS. they appear to be down at the minute, but I've had a blog over on the tumblrs for longer than I've actually had this one (this started off basically as a place to put longer form posts that I didn't mind sticking around/want to lose track of, since tumblr can get really frickin' ephemeral in places, but this aim was swiftly lost in favour of wanting to be a Blogger (capitalisation for emphasis, not because it's the platform I use)), and I think I might start actual blogging on there too (most likely short form 'look at this Thing' ones, but with actual discussion), rather than just periodically posting/reblogging links. Also,  (EDIT 13/02/2013 HA HA HA HA nope. didn't happen) I actually fiddled around with my theme on here a few weeks back, and I have now fixed the issue of visited links looking identical to normal text.

*yes, 'band aid'. I know it should be 'plaster' since I'm British, but I spent/ wasted a large number of my formative years watching Friends (I think it may also be the only television series I've watched every episode of) and, well, here we are.
** Actually, writing that makes me wonder how common these traits are amongst programmers as well. I'm not the first to note the similarity between code and writing thoughA piece by the same author called Fear of Writing has also probably been an influence on these posts.
*** Well, at least I thought I did until writing that sentence and realising that holy crap I'm really enjoying this and huh, where'd that hour go?!

1 comment:

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