More like a co-sitting, where Sage and I opened books and magazines and tiny pieces of paper. WIthout much intro, here are five images from our first night. Sage did the collages, I did the pen drawings. It all happened in an hour.
So the first two weeks of the schedule experiment have been almost exactly split in terms of their success. Week one worked out well, with me clocking three mornings of good writing and two mornings dashed by work and other blockers.
Week two was terrible. I didn’t respect the schedule nearly enough, allowed other things to get in the way, and didn’t do half as much work as I’d promised myself.
With Monday already under my belt this week, things are already looking off track. Spent this morning sleeping late because of an over-active weekend (two soccer games plus one reporting in the press box, a four-mile walk home from U of Portland on Sat night, lots of family time).
Assessment: I need more work and more diligence in terms of refusing plans. Remember what is most important.
The Americans have “In God We Trust,” the French, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” And the Brazilians? Better known for their beautiful soccer than their work ethic, Brazilians have the ominous-sounding slogan “Ordem e Progresso” on their flag, draped over a blue circle that represents the southern hemisphere’s night sky. It means Order and Progress, a coupla concepts I’ve been chewing on these past few days.
The draw toward an increased level of order and progress in my own life was punctuated today by an article I just read about the life of Ingmar Bergman, Swedish filmmaker, whose late-life peculiarities of sex and family and daily operations constituted the main interest points of a photo essay in
a recent (not recent as it turns out…only seemed that way since we no longer subscribe and that one’s stayed around for a while) issue of W magazine (supplied, I should say, by Sage. I’m not too current with my W if she’s not around). A simple idea stuck out: for a man with a chaotic inner existence, imposed structure is essential. In fact, I could see the rigors of structured living going beyond essential into the realm of addiction (not lost in the article is a sense of Bergman being increasingly difficult to reach, personally and professionally, due to his adherence to a self-centered timeline and a set of deep convictions about what is and is not good use of hours).
Also, I do not mean to flatter myself by saying my inner life is comparable to that of Mr Bergman. Whereas his notes and revisions are the stuff of museum halls, mine are an embarrassment I wouldn’t want displayed to anyone, least of all a public audience. I hope some day to create works whose construction would prove interesting to someone other than myself, that future is far from guaranteed.
But I do recognize that a lack of structure coupled with a swell of good intentions is the perfect equation for letting one’s self off the hook. It’s easy for me to say I’m working, or that I’m thinking, or that the real time to sit down and get to work on the book is just around the corner. But without a schedule, I don’t have a sense of time and opportunities being gobbled up by my past — a sense that I think is important to maintain. The truth is, every morning I’m not writing is a morning lost, a morning set back, a morning from the future that I’m borrowing against despite the fact that the future isn’t promised to me. First thing first: write one book. Then another. I certainly can’t write my third novel while I’m still waiting to get downstairs and finish the first.
So, for posterity, here’s my three-days-a-week plan, plus a little something (less structured) for the weekend. I’ll report back on the success of this project in two weeks.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
7:01am Wake up
7:01am – 7:15am Coffee
7:15am – 9:15am Writing
9:15am – 9:20am Breakfast
9:20am – 9:35am Commute (bike)
9:35am – 10:00am Workout and shower
10:00am – 6:30pm Work
6:30pm – 7:00pm Commute home, unwind
7:00pm – 8:00pm Read, relax
8:00pm – 9:00pm Dinner
9:00pm – 11:00pm Read, movie, etc.
Six hours total of writing time, divided as events dictate
Today Webtrends, the corporation that has graciously hosted Switchyard Creative since April, officially announced the incubator program that we were fortunate to join in its infancy. It’s funny. I haven’t published many words about that side of my life on these pages because I try to keep the two separate, but of course, with all the time and energy I spend growing that company and making sure it’s a business that can remain my sole professional outlet for as long as possible, there’s no pretending that work and writing can remain independent of each other. I keep my office downstairs sacred, but of course my day job keeps me from getting down there nearly as much as I would like.
But I don’t mean to go off course. The fact is, today’s positive press from numerous local publications makes me feel pretty good, and at first I was a little embarrassed about that, as if the only news that should really turn me on has to deal with the novel or publishing a story. But fuck it. I’m happy for the positive feedback no matter its form.
So I’ve been working on this book for a while, see? I keep saying three years, but I’ve been saying that for about a year, so somewhere along the way my disappointing admission has become something worse: a lie.
And yet I still can’t bring myself to take a break and do something else for a while, like write a new short story or edit some old work or write something for a performance (reading, monologue, etc.). I know it’d be good practice, plus the writers I most admire seem to work on several projects simultaneously. So what’s keeping me back?
My first answer: a misconception that for every minute I spend on a writing-but-not-novel-writing project, I would otherwise be working on the novel itself. There’s something sacred about the hours I get to spend writing or thinking about or drafting or erasing large chunks of the book, so the idea of somehow stealing from those hours for a project I’m less enamored of seems wasted, or rather like stealing from myself.
But I know that’s not entirely true. The whole reason to break out is because I often spend those available hours staring into space or cleaning something or reading someone else’s book or wasting time on the internet (putting the internet at the end there is misleading, because, honestly, that’s the most likely time sink of the bunch).
Sage just asked me whether I’d like to collaborate with her on a project, and immediately I had that knee-jerk reaction: NO! I cannot pull myself away from the book, which, no lie, I still firmly believe in and think will be worth all of the effort. But then she broke up my thinking by suggesting I do something other than write, like sketch. I love to sketch, pen drawings. I’ve always loved drawing. Look at my journals from way back. They’re chock full of figurines, psychedelic dreamscapes, naked women, signatures, still lifes, monsters, eyeballs, faces, haircuts, lists, lizards.
I’ve stopped making promises on these pages, but I will say Sage is onto something. Forget this lie of a limited creative balance. As with the proverbial distance that a stronger fondness makes, I’ll find myself yearning to get back to the novel when I’m doing my best sketching, and in the process jump straight into something good. Real good.
Didn’t think that my best, or at least most frequent, public writing output would be tied to minor league sports writing (that is, writing about minor league sports, not minor-league writing about sports, if you catch my drift). But so far in 2010, that is the case.
I’m part of a loose affiliation of sports fans and technology geeks and writers of various daytime occupations who contribute to the Portland Sportsman, a local online concern. The purpose of the Sportsman, insofar as I like to view my participation, is to observe sports not for their outcomes but for the interesting stories that grow up around and within those sports themselves, and for that purpose minor league sports have turned out to be more interesting than their major league counterparts. For example, we write about what in the world could possess a Triple-A baseball player to continue the fight into his late twenties/early thirties, especially when it’s a prospect’s game down there. These guys (amazing athletes though they may be) pull town a measly wage, travel by bus, share rooms, and play in front of depressingly sparse crowds. But I digress; you can read about that in a few articles over there.
Anyhow, it’s writing with deadlines, which I love; it’s writing for something I care about; and it means more words on the (digital) page, which helps no matter what the subject. Go ahead and check out some of the writers over there if you’re interested in minor league soccer, baseball, rollerderby, pinball, and so on.
After a few hosting difficulties, I’m back at the helm. Of course the Letters to Shaver project has been pushed back, but I have a few more letters to post soon, with more to come once the backlog is done.
Nothing fun about moving all this code from one host to another, but with thanks to Sam Alexander I’m fully migrated.
Don’t expect these tiny stories to be any good, not for a while. Instead of writing a collection and editing out the weeds, I’m interested in linear publication of a thought connected to someone else’s (Sage’s) image.
And re. that. Sage isn’t sold on the idea. It seemed interesting at first, but essentially this project asks her to take the same photograph at the same time every day, with the idea that some small and potentially revealing details will change both in the short- and long-terms. I’m looking for those tiny changes and trying to build a personality around the act of noticing. For Sage, though, one wonders where the relevance lies. Perhaps nowhere. Perhaps this project will die very soon. Who knows.
I watched you drive away, both of you. The evidence is overwhelming. I do not care where you are headed, no. There is only one question: Why here? Nobody lives in the building where you were parked all night. I see those windows, too. Dark for months. Don’t answer. This is a rainy town.
Truthfully, you are too clean. This is no compliment. Look at your two sentries, your wooden corner posts that reach up and up. They should drop garbage like leaves, but those bills clutch on, no scraps in sight. And this is the morning we’re talking about, the first scene after drunks pull paper down around them and toss flyers into puddles to become pulp. Your upright newspaper carts! Your volvo! Who does your sweeping?