John McPhee on writing

I tend to think of myself as a bland storyteller. Maybe I like to explain things more than is needed. Maybe I add a lot of filler to the meat of the story. Maybe it’s just the way I process information as it happens, and thus it’s how it comes out.

So when I find a writer who has a similar syntax and rhythm in their writing, it stands out to me.

I was reading Draft No. 4, a book I purchased on recommendation, and in the first essay I noticed the familiar tone of my own voice. Now, McPhee is a treasure-trove of first-hand accounts, and his written vocabulary far exceeds my own. But the way in which he describes occurrences resonates with me – because of its similarity.

“In the late nineteen-sixties, I was working in rented space on Nassau Street up a flight of stairs and over Nathan Krasel, Optometrist. Across the street was the main library of Princeton University. Across the hall was the Swedish Massage.”

One wonderful thing about reading Progression, this first essay in Draft No. 4, is that I didn’t find it bland at all. And I suppose that I can take comfort in that.

Returning

The longer you wait to start something back up, the harder it can be to get it going. That’s been the case for my writing. Also some other things – yoga, reading, and decluttering, as examples.

Sometimes you get sidetracked. It happens. And it happens to everyone. No matter what the circumstance, or how long it’s been, just get back in there. Maybe you are out of the flow, and it takes longer to do what you had done before. Or you can’t do as much. But just try and get those muscles moving – those juices flowing. It feels good.

Will this be the push that gets me back in the swing? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But the important thing is to try.

The High Cost of Education

(I started this post before doing a monthly reading list, of which I am tardy on this month. But I left this sitting in drafts. My goal over the next month is to complete every draft that I’ve started and get it published on the blog. What you’ll see is that I have a problem with spending money on books, I have a lack of space with which to house all of my books, and I have a lack of time with which to read all of my books. So, about the same as any other book-lover all over the world.)

I’ve paid for an education on credit. No, not the degrees that I’ve eared (though the debt I’ve accrued in earning those is substantial), but I specifically speak about my love of books, or bibliophilia. And what an education. I can’t help but peruse the stacks at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or the countless used bookstores that I frequent. The musty smell, a fragrance that only holds a hint of the words of thousands-upon-thousands of women and men, just waiting to be re-released into the world.


So I stack books on shelves, on top of each other, on the floor. I try and read as many as I can, though I usually only finish one per week, though if it’s particularly gripping I’ll get through it in a little less time. The point I’m making, though, is that I find it difficult to leave a bookstore without some acquisition (or two or three, etc). My collection on philosophy, metaphysics, logic and esoterica is growing just over the past year (2017 – I was contemplating enrolling in a PhD Philosophy program, but have set that on the back burner for now).

I keep one bookshelf in my room, just to store the current interests. I’ve got books from Karl Ove Knausgaard, Alan Watts, Neil Gaiman, and Joseph Campbell. There are books on writing, time management, chakras, meditation, and philosophy. An entire shelf is made up of journals and notebooks – some blank, some partially written in, and others full of my scribblings. And every day, multiple times, I find myself just looking at the book shelf.

It may be impossible to read through everything I’ve purchased, but as John Waters said, “Nothing is more important than an unread library.”

Back in the lower 48

After a wonderful trip up through Alaska and Canada, I am home again. My intention was to maintain posting every day during the trip, but it became too difficult for me to maintain while I was traveling. But now I’m back, nearly over the jet lag, and ready to hit the ground running.

This week, I’ll be writing about what I read last month, the fourth and its significance for me, and of course, my travels.

Though I am glad to be home, I think Alaska will stay with me in a way like no other place has.

Deleted content

While updating some posts on my phone, I thumbpressed trash rather than update on a post. So everything I’d scribed was now lost. No big deal, as it’s only one post a was just a few paragraphs. But it is an annoyance.

One downside to the digital world is the likelihood of deletion of content. When you consider how hard it is to delete handwriting from notebooks, it certainly gives that column a plus. However, it’s much more difficult to disseminate notebooks than it is a blog.

Production Coordinators

In a phone conversation recently, I was tentatively offered a POC position. I suppose it was more feeling out my interest level, but it holds potential. I’ve only been relying on a limited amount of my creative fields-experience, and other than the occasional theatrical gig I’m not doing much with either my resume or my degree. While sales can be challenging and educational, it sometimes feels less-than-rewarding.

So now I look towards the future – the mountain I’ve neglected in recent years. What my friend a few weeks ago called my three-year wake-up call. Perhaps that’s exactly what it was. And now that I’m producing – this blog, the nascent video-game media company, and a couple of other projects, for example – it’s important to remember that like begets like.

Counterintuitive

The oddest little thing has come to my attention. When I was writing one or two blog posts a week, I always seemed to find excuses for not doing them. I was always too busy.

Now, with a daily post, I don’t seem to run out of things to say. I can knock out three or four every time I sit in front of the computer. Most are short. Some are longer, and may take me three-ten tries to tie them up. But I am able still to move through my thoughts in an easier, more-streamlined way.

It’s either the commitment (though I had committed to twice a week before, which I let slip), or it’s the routine, or it’s writing so often that I don’t worry about the quality of work as much. As long as it’s grammatically correct and (mostly) spellchecked, then I’m pretty happy with the result. Even if it’s a lot of nonsense, tomorrow is another day.