0585 – birthday reflections 2016

Started on 07 Jun 2016, revisited and finished on 1st Aug 2016

Had a quiet and uneventful birthday; spent it alone at home with the wife, doing a bit of work, tidying up my movie reviews (that’s done for now!) and talking to old friends.

There’s a bit in Ray Dalio’s principles where he talks about figuring out what you want and then separately figuring out how to get there, what’s stopping you, what you need to change and so on. And one of the important things is being very clear about what you want, independent of what it takes to get there. You don’t want your present capabilities to influence the goal you set for yourself, because your capabilities can change. And there’s a bit somewhere else- I think by Eric Schmidt, in How Google Works- that talks about how in some ways audacious goals are easier to reach than mediocre ones, because they inspire and challenge people, they invite suggestions and assistance. I’ve witnessed this in other people. I’m quick to try and help or assist people who are working on cool things.

So it follows then that I should work on cool things and assist myself.

I have been hesitant lately. The past 4 years or so of my life have been sobering. I’ve come to realize that I’m not as smart or effective as I thought I was. I’m not guaranteed anything, the universe doesn’t owe me a damn thing.

Anyway that’s a long winded preamble to what I want to say- which is that it’s clearer than ever to me that I want to be a writer. A man of letters. I want to make a living thinking and writing. I want to help people think and write better. I want to write essays, reviews, books, novels, stories, anything and everything that tickles my mind. I want to live like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell. That’s the company I seek. I want to carry on that tradition and I want to rearrange my life towards that goal. I know that it will be difficult and frustrating and lonely, but that’s the struggle I want to undertake.

Okay, so what are the next steps there? The first thing is that I need to ramp up my volume of writing. My current behavior is that of a semi-passionate hobbyist. I want to go pro. That means being a lot more intense and deliberate. It means doing little projects I’ve been meaning to do, like a modern translation of Orwell’s ‘politics and the English Language’. Why have I been putting that off? (UPDATE: I did this! Hurrah! Onwards.)

Partially because I feel that nobody would really care- but that’s not true because I care. It’s more that I don’t feel like I’m good enough. But I have to recognize that as the Resistance talking. I’m much better than I was 3 or 4 years ago when I was much more comfortable just writing my mouth off without thinking about whether the work was good, or deserved to be called work. I’ve swung to the other side entirely now; I hardly write anything for public consumption and have been doing introspective writing for 3 years. It’s time to swing back.

So next steps again- I need to make sure that I’m writing every day. I don’t necessarily need to get my word vomit project done ASAP- or rather, it’s okay for me to write the drafts of other things within the word vomits context- the mean girls essay was originally from here! There’s a lot more stuff from here I intend to repurpose, too. Where I used to not care about structure or planning, now I’m over thinking it. I have to start with what excites me the most, and let it all out, and trust that there’s more where that came from. I need to stop stockpiling ideas, worrying that I’ll have nothing once I use them up. That’s complete BS. I have unlimited ideas. I am vast and limitless beyond my own understanding.

^ I stopped writing there, and am continuing after a few months. All of the above is true and valid, I think. And yet for some reason I didn’t spend the next few days throwing myself into my writing. The tempting thing to say is that I was distracted by obligations, that I was too busy, and so on. But those are excuses, I feel. If something is important you make time for it. I made a lot of time to watch Game of Thrones with the wife. It was relatively easy to do, just sit and consume, turn it on and wait. Writing in comparison can be a little scarier, a little less gratifying.

I want to write millions and millions of words. The first million is just a tutorial zone of sorts, a dry run. After that it’s just going to be novel after novel, baby. Short stories. Pamphlets. Essays. About anything and everything. I’m going to publish with a furious anger. Along the way I’ll want to figure out how to do it for a full time living, if possible. But if not, no matter, I will write for myself at night, on the commutes. I just need to design the process a little better for myself so that I don’t have to try to come up with things on the spot. I should list out all my prompts in advance, as well as my curiosities and interests (have done some of that), so I can just chase whatever I find to be interesting. And I’ll have to block out some distractions that will have me spending time in ways I dislike. It’s all about prioritization. It’s all about focus. And I’m going to keep building that muscle. I’m going to break through barrier after barrier with my writing, I’m going to explore parts of my mind I haven’t explored my entire life. I’m going to ask questions that have never been asked before. I’m going to make comparisons that have never been made before.

But really all of that lofty shit is just #goals, the more important thing is that I put in the day-to-day hours. I remember for a period of time I was having alot of fun just ticking off boxes one by one. I’d try to do one every day, which let me tick off the calendar, and I’d try to do as many as I can thereafter, which let me fill out many X’s on a page with 1000 boxes. I should probably return to doing that. Or just incorporate it into my daily todo lists. We’ll see. The point is, I want to be a writer.

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