One of my heroes, Austin Kleon, writes of seriousness versus lightness:
Stay at it, but stay light. Don’t be afraid to do what comes naturally. Fight the urge to be serious. Don’t let it destroy the very thing that makes you you.
(Photo via VisualHunt)
1,500 kms done, coupla hunnerd left to do. Strange, stray emotions hit me every time I lace up my joggers. The other day I experienced a longing to be done with the whole damned thing: “I am just so sick of subjecting myself to this again and again.” Another day, slogging up a hill, I felt almost weepy: “How can I stop doing this sublime thing?” The only other time I’ve been as rigorously disciplined was in my corporate years, and that was different, an all-consuming “career.” This geeky, self-imposed discipline sits on my shoulders as a burden, yes, but I have always felt, since January 1, that it’s also a godsend, something in this uncertain life that I can cling to.
Learnings over the last week:
- I wasted a shitload of effort
- The effort needed to be made
- The whole shebang is a hoot!
But the real lesson is how to minimise TIME on 1. and how to minimise TIME getting from 1. to 2. In other words, let me stop wasting TIME. Strangely enough, what is needed is energetic abandon (collect the data faster, without fussing) and courage (don’t shy from the analysis and early drafting).
Three days ago I bemoaned frittered effort. Yesterday I concluded that wastage was necessary. Have I mentioned what a frolic this is?
A couple of days ago, I confessed that I’d mucked up work on some early history. If only I’d seen the truth so much earlier, think of how much work would have been saved . . . If only magical insight had seized me . . . But of course that’s not how it works. You need to absorb the past, cut it up into little bits, reassemble them in your mind, and bingo, insight lumbers in.
I’ve continued to reflect on my extract a couple of days ago from a haunting call to action for writers. Here are more words from that Eric Maisel newsletter piece (“A writer’s pledge”):
We writers—all of us, really—are capable of speaking. Mustn’t we? I do not think it is indulgent of us to write other things. But I do think it is massively indulgent of us to not sometimes write engaged things that scare us to write and that we fear may come with consequences. We must make some beautiful things in the service of liberty and in defense of our children. We do not have to do this day and night but certainly by some occasional dawn’s early light. We are called to this, aren’t we?
I pored over dusty ancient reports, official histories, participants’ memories . . . Took notes. Fashioned my notes into a chronological “catch-all” document. I stepped back and pondered what had been collected and then fashioned a “plot,” a sensible causal sequence of “what happened” way back then. Right now, I’m writing up what the world did with radioactive waste management in the early years. It’s important because this predetermines what we’re doing now. I write . . . and damn, it’s crystal clear that throughout all that labour, I’d missed the damned point!