derekfetters

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Methods of Procrastination

In Methods of Procrastination on October 30, 2012 at 1:24 am

There are many communities, websites, and blogs on the internet that dispense advice on how to finally sit down and write the work you’ve always wanted to write. There’s almost too many of them. In order to stand out from the crowd, I’m taking the contrarian approach and will give you insight into how I have avoided writing a well-written and meaningful blog this week.

My favored methods of procrastination have been:

  • Watching videos on YouTube, starting with channels I’m subscribed to , linking onto videos YouTube suggests, and finally watching painfully unfunny comedy sketches because a girl the thumbnail looked pretty.
  • Sorting laundry
  • Reading Twitter, starting with people that I’m Following, linking to accounts of people that those people have retweeted, and finally clicking through twitpics of steampunk cosplayers. (FYI – I’m amused at how many words my spellcheck doesn’t recognize in that previous sentence.)
  • Reading through all the freewrites I wrote this week three times or more each, wondering, even though I don’t like any of them to post, if I can combine any of them to make at least something mediocre.
  • Lunch
  • Dentist Appointment
  • Folding laundry
  • Trying to figure out what I’m going to talk about with my friends who I usually meet with every other Monday to discuss creative goals and accomplishments.
  • Having a meeting with friends to discuss your creative accomplishments when you haven’t accomplished anything.
  • Play 007 Goldeneye on the Wii
  • Play 007 Legends on the Xbox 360.
  • Listen to podcast video game and movie reviews.
  • Google “TED Talks: Procrastination”
  • Go to adviceforwriters.com and read page after page as if this somehow will excuse me from not writing
  •  Holding my head in my hands, staring at my desk, despondent that people are expecting more out of me and my writing than a bulleted list.
  • Reassuring myself that I’m only doing this for myself and that the important thing is that I meet my deadline and word count. Get the job done.
  • Worrying that people are going to respond sympathetically , which, I know, sounds backwards, but would have me feeling like I presented myself as a loser instead of having written something clever, something many of us relate to that we all can find amusing.
  • OK, look, man, really this is a cry for help. You know it. The people reading this know it. You haven’t convinced anyone.
  • No, at best this is a cry for help. Call it what it really is. A last minute excuse to write the simplest dreck possible just so you can say you didn’t miss posting a blog this Monday.
  • Brainstorm various ways to actually write this as an insightful, well-crafted piece.
  • Scrap those ideas. Google “sexy cosplay”
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42

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I feel a smidge broken. My doctor tells me I have plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the spongy material in your heel, and I’m laid up in bed for having sprained my back. I am pretty sure this is the culmination of being on my feet and lifting heavy boxes as a retail bookseller for 17 years. No longer being young doesn’t help either. At the end of this year I turn 42 and, as Douglas Adams fans know, that number is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. I could really use, as could we all, a meaningful answer to the question that is my life in this upcoming year.

If you’re unfamiliar, the meaning of the number 42 was posited by Adams in his story The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For those of you who never read the book, saw the movie or tv show, heard the radio play, or played the video game, here’s the lowdown: In the story, it’s discovered that the Earth is actually a giant computer. It was created by another giant computer named Big Thought, who had calculated that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything was, in fact, 42. When Big Thought’s creators expressed their dissatisfaction with this puzzling answer, the computer explained that the question was too vague. So the Earth was created in order to calculate just what the specific question was that 42 happened to be the answer to. Confusing? Absurd? Yes, just go with it.

So, according to this story we are basically running through these endless scenarios in order to understand the meaning of life, which is pretty much something we already knew. I am hoping that next year I will discover that the question is, “How many years does it take for someone to begin creating a personal understanding of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?” Answer: 42.

I feel pretty confident that this will happen. I am already starting to change my life in meaningful ways. I’ve started this blog. I’ve finished a 9-month program at the University of Washington for Editing. And I edited a fantastic fantasy novel which should be out before the end of this year: Summerhawk by Peter Schmit. All of these are steps to get me moving into the realm of a new career. I’ve also started taking yoga. (I’ve only taken the introductory class. I feel if I had taken more classes in the last week, I might have avoided, prevented, or at least somewhat healed the damage done to me this week.) I’m also getting a new bike after my last one finally conked out beyond repair. I feel these new attempts at discipline in mind and body are at least a first step in finding the mental and physical resources to make something meaningful out of my life.

Not that my life is a mess. It’s just  since all I can do is lie here, trying not to move my back, I have plenty of time to think about life, the universe, and everything.

Staying Real

In Creative Inspiration on October 16, 2012 at 12:43 am

I’ve stalled enough. I’ve waited for the correct circumstances to appear to inspire me to write. The truth is, you can’t wait for the right circumstances. You must create them.

If inspiration is a gift from the gods, then one must first make an offering. That offering is usually in time, focus, loyalty, discipline, and ego. Especially ego. Give it up. Offer it up. Slaughter it upon the altar as joyfully as you would a chicken to the Caribbean spirits of Vodou, dancing and inviting divinity to ride you.

If that sounds scary it’s because writing, or any art, at its heart, is an act of vulnerability. You are revealing your authentic self and clothing it in words for others to see.  You craft those words so others can understand what you understand and sense what you sense. Writing, at its simplest, is an act of expression, and I find that I’m stuck starting this blog because I’ve, instead, been looking at writing as an act of production. I’ve focused on what I believe others expect out of the result of this process, instead of simply focusing on what I feel, what I see, and what is the best way to be communicate that.

Not only is writing an act of vulnerability and expression. It is essentially the continuous practice of imperfection. You can’t create until you accept that you will not produce anything perfectly. No creating happens without this realization. Even a technical writer has to work within the limits of his knowledge and vocabulary. The best way to test and stretch those limits is to simply write , expressing your idea as best as you can in order to find where the blind spots are.

I wanted to call this blog “Staying Real”, partially because I like how it sounds like a cross between “stay black” and “keeping it real” but, truthfully, the inspiration for the title is from a quote from Brené Brown about the perils of authenticity.

“’Staying real’,” the practice of authenticity, “is one of the most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight.” Authenticity, she says, is , “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

So I have to embrace who I am every time I write this blog. I remember writing an editorial column for my college paper that was printed every Friday. I felt naked every Friday that I walked onto campus. That feeling never went away no matter how much positive response to the column there was. I’ve been avoiding writing this blog in order to avoid that feeling. However, I now realize that feeling is an inevitable and essential part of the process.

I’m going to write every day, freewrite, long hand, for at least 10 minutes, and at the end of the week I’ll edit one (or more) of my freewrites as I type it and then post it. No excuses. Every Monday, there should be something new posted here, whether or not it’s perfect. This is how I’ll engage the practice of vulnerability and imperfection. I offer this up. The dance begins.