Not Asking Much

I require little of myself, other than to eat and breathe and spend time with my wife. In other words, I am a slacker, a retiree with few demands on his time. I am a man with few concerns to tax his brain. But I do require one thing that, even absent other demands, can be burdensome. I require of myself that I write at least two simple blog posts each morning.

How can such a modest obligation become oppressive? Well, to be honest, oppressive is too strong a word. For, you see, my commitment is casual and facile. But, still, I sometimes allow myself to be overwhelmed by it.  I think to myself, “my brain is not functioning as well as it should for me to write creatively,” which gives rise to a mild sense of panic that I won’t meet my obligation to write just two little pieces.  And, then, I try to write something, but what drips from my fingers is dull, distorted, incoherent nonsense. I quickly conclude that I have written all I will ever write; my creativity is spent and no matter how hard I wish for it to return, it will never come back to me. Life, as I have come to know it, is behind me.

Generally, though, when I look again at my dull, distorted, incoherent nonsense, I can see the seed of an idea that might bear further exploration. And so I examine it more closely, more carefully. I assess it and realize the idea may be a start, just a start, to something I might later develop into a story. And so I begin writing, urging the idea to break through its boundaries and expand into the empty space around it.

It’s a bit like cracking an egg; once that hard shell protecting what’s inside is sufficiently broken, the white and the yolk spill out, unconstrained. Once it is released from barriers, there is no telling where it will go; it goes where it will.  So it is with ideas. Chip away at the carapace surrounding them and they tend to finally burst forth and blossom.

Many of my daily posts contain the roots of ideas that I have nurtured  just enough so they can stand without crashing down. They are seedlings with the potential to flourish with cultivation. Occasionally, I retrieve some of those seedlings and give them the care they need to grow into more than vignettes.  In fact, many days I return to something I’ve written before, using it as a foundation. I take that germ of an idea and add to it, allowing it to grow of its own accord. Several short stories I’ve written have emerged later from my daily posts.

I consider everything I’ve written to be fodder for spurring more writing. Every story, every rumination, every incomplete vignette is fuel.

On those days when I question whether my commitment to writing at least two posts a day is worthwhile or I question whether it will bear fruit, my ultimate answer is that the worth and the fruits of  my slacker’s labors are right in front of me.

Though I don’t require much of myself, the little I do require is enough. For now.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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