Sculptor and artist Anne Truitt kept a diary in the late 1960s. In Daybook: The Journal of an Artist, she writes about her stringent work habit: ” . . . during the years from 1948 to 1961 I had formed the habit of working in my studio almost every single day. Rain or shine, eager or dragging my feet, I just plain forced myself to work. . . . Something graceful and to be cherished, something delicate and sweet fell by the board with this obsession, which, in essence, still remains a mystery to me. Why am I so obsessed? I do not know.”
In the corporate world, fierce action and short deadlines are the go. Or at least that’s how I recall that world. I don’t find writing so straightforward. When I wrote murder mysteries, I managed to pump out a manuscript each year, but this nonfiction book has turned out to be an epic of slowness. Even now, under internal (and external, hi friends and family) pressure, on some days I need to slow right down, to take small, deliberate steps, in order to speed up delivery of draft material. Today is such a day.
The purpose of this blog is to talk to myself. Of course what tends to spew out is the doubt, the angst. But a Big Year is not life, it’s just one way to focus life. Even as I’ve grown anxious about my big years over the last week or so, life has been filled with joy. Images from last week: the frisson of jogging through puddles after rain has turned to sunshine; Money Monster – a flawless, exhilarating script; Mustang – sexual oppression in Turkey tackled in this angry yet luminescent film.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of calmness that descends upon me when I finally set aside the website-type development work and begin again on my chapters. The whole point of a “big year” is to give daily time and focus to what you’ve judged as most important (at least for this one year) and when you’re not attending to your big year, it feels like existential anxiety.
My Big Decade is a geeky exercise in focus, and it involves plenty of data keeping for the sake of monitoring. Most people are relaxed and monitor nothing. At the other extreme are those within the “quantified self” movement, dedicated to (in Wiki words) “incorporate[ing] technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life.” This seems extreme even to me. But one could get fascinated . . .
Check out Steven Jonas’s article “Shannon Conners: A Lifetime of Personal Data.”
Man, these big years squeeze you. I’m working on online stuff. You know, website, palette, fonts, image sizes, landing page . . . stuff I am a klutz at, stuff I kind of know but know nothing. Everything eventually works but clunkily. It all takes too much time. And meantime the Writing Big Year is a pressure cooker waiting to explode. Where I should be is back in the writing cave, from early in the morning. Tomorrow? Monday?
I’m here. Pen glides. Won’t that suffice?
One of my nieces suggests I join her in a half marathon. Ah, if only . . . My weekly 40 kms could in theory qualify me for 21-km fitness, but I’m sure my ankles would crash well before the race ended. Why threaten the annual target, with its known or sensed virtues, for a different adventure altogether?
Wasting time on something important is still wasting time. After 9 days of maundering around the business of online “platforming,” this morning I was meant to spring up on time and get back to Reactor. No didn’t happen.
Okay, the Jogging Big Year is back on track. But the Writing Big Year is lurching. Back to Bar Ristretto and reorient and recalibrate and go!