Talking to Myself

I have started, and in a few cases finished, several new posts over the last several days that have yet to be published. Even the “finished” posts, though, are incomplete. There is something about the words I have written or the messages I have tried to capture that is not quite right. Or not quite finished. Or not worthy of sharing. Or too revealing of my emotions. Or too raw. Or something. By writing this post, I’m attempting to force myself to figure out just what it is that is keeping me from posting those drafts. Unlike unfinished pieces of fiction, which I readily share because…why not…these drafts are too personal to share before I am absolutely certain they reflect what I am thinking or feeling. I do not want to say something, publicly, that I would later feel compelled to retract as an erroneous expression of an incomplete thought.

But are those reasons I’ve just given myself really true? Am I simply deluding myself? Or am I engaging in a flat-out lie? I need to explore the posts more thoroughly. And I need to examine my reasons for writing what I wrote.

To start, here are the titles of the posts in question:

  • Swinburn’s Law of Antagonistic Surrender
  • A Life in Disarray
  • In More Normal Times
  • Bodily Adherence to the Mind’s Commands

But as I examine all the drafts in my drafts folder (353 at the moment), I realize it’s not just the non-fiction that I’ve opted not to share or not to finish or both. There are plenty of pieces of fiction I have yet to post, including these recent ones:

  • Gerund the Fabulist
  • Liam’s Life
  • March on Mar-a-Lago
  • Sarah

Some of the language in the fiction could get me in trouble with the American Gestapo, so I think I know the reason I have chosen not to post those pieces. And one of the vignettes (Sarah) bothers me because it tries to be funny but fails (Sarah’s last name is Femm, which gives another character license to harass her mercilessly).  The other fiction is just not ready yet; even more unfinished than most of my unfinished fiction.

But back to the non-fiction. As I skimmed those pieces just now, every one of them is incomplete. Every one is missing crucial elements that would finish them. Yet I do not know if I will ever incorporate those elements because… I do not know. There are enormous hurdles standing in the way, between me and their completion, that I do not have the mental energy or the stamina to clear. It is not that I do not have the strength to do it; it’s just that I don’t have the drive, I guess.

The reality of writing—my writing, at least—is that some of it is so poor that an enormous amount of drive (mental energy, stamina, call it what you wish) would be required for it to achieve adequacy, much less superiority. But the ideas contained in even bad writing are sometimes so appealing that it is hard to let drafts die. An intelligent writer would simply extract those ideas and save them for another piece of work. But I let them linger in drafts until either I delete the drafts or stumble upon them, read them, and realize all I need to do is take the ideas and insert them into another story.

Laziness. That’s part of it, too. The work involved in finishing drafts or polishing finished pieces is sometimes too much; laziness prevents me from injecting the necessary amount of energy into the process.

This post is just another excuse. It’s okay to simply take a break from writing for as long as necessary to rekindle the fire. Just jot notes when ideas form to ensure they do not get lost. And, then, when the mood strikes, retrieve the notes; use the ones that remain of interest and write. Keep the other notes, too, in case they fit another mood or another story. Just don’t feel compelled to write or to finish. Relax. Take a breath. Take a walk. Retreat for a while. And then critically judge drafts or unpublished pieces. Do not feel compelled to post them. If they are not worth posting, delete them. And go through the posts already on the blog and delete the ones that should never have been posted. A leaner blog is probably better, anyway.

Now, have another cup of coffee and consider big questions.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Talking to Myself

  1. Pat Newcomb says:

    after all the answers are in the questions and in the process of questioning –

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