think (feel) be

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts. ~ Bertrand Russell

Tangles of meanings and things

I’ve recently been thinking about throwing out a blog or two: a standing-room only bus from Seattle to Everett seems like a perfect time.

So. Writing.

Meaning and stuff.

Narratives and all that.

I think I can safely say that I’m writing consistently again, both in my novel and in general. I’ve waited this long because I wanted to be sure. Several days or even weeks of writing does not finish a novel. Five months in and I’m confident I’m in the flow now.

Yo. Writer all up in here.

But it took a while. And it took some serious self-reflection and analysis.

The writing (or the attempt at writing) started last fall after my friend Jessi, an author herself, strongly encouraged me to stop stalling. I believe her words were “What the hell are you waiting for?”

Even with her encouragement (and my sense of competition), I struggled for several months to get into the flow.

I set goals.

I made promises.

I issued threats and ultimatums.

It just wasn’t working. If I had one productive day it was followed by a week of zero words. Of course, I didn’t help myself with my choice of assignment: a half-finished novel from 15 years ago. I had issues with fidelity and commitment. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have issues with this.

It was actually overcommitment and over-fidelity. I was too attached to scenes I’d written 15 years ago and overcommitted to the existing plot. As I began to reengage with the story I had to give up characters, scenes, and ideas that I loved back then but that didn’t fit the vision I now had. (It has been 15 years; a few things have happened to me in that time). I really had to let go of my prior vision if I wanted to write the damn book. I had to kick my 15-years-ago ass out the door. And I had to start fresh, not try to edit what I already had. But I couldn’t. I tried. And failed. Tried again. Failed again. I was a prisoner to my hypercritical, flow-killing editor mind. I needed to escape to my creative mind.

My journal proved to be the file in my cake…. Eventually.

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I can now say that the very act of writing in my journal allows my mind to practice with developing meanings and narratives, to experiment with tone and coherence, and to listen for the evocative power of the right words in the right order. I write in my journal almost every day. However, my editor was initially present even here. Yes, you read that right, I wasn’t allowing myself to make mistakes in a document that only I will ever read. I was agonizing over word choice, grammar, and penmanship. Freaking penmanship. So, again, I had to give up in order to free myself from…myself. I wasn’t always like this, and I’m not sure how I got here, but I sure as hellfire didn’t like it.

One night, mid-sentence, I stopped. I had misspelled a word and was trying to correct it without have to draw a line through it. Instead, I wrote a sloppy word on a blank page. I added another. And another. Soon I was scribbling lines everywhere.

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The release was palpable. The sensation was freeing. I wanted to laugh.

Now my journal entries are messy again. Lines through entire freaking thoughts. Because my journal is not about neat and tidy. My journal is about the messy beauty of ideas and creativity; the raw stuff of unvarnished thoughts and feelings, written as they come to me.

Now I’m deeply back into the novel; the writing feels almost effortless; when the choices do come I don’t freeze up as my mind tries to make all the disconnected pieces fit. I just wait patiently (mostly) for my imagination to work it out.

Now I’m writing again. And it feels awesome.

Once I get the novel published I’ll be an author. Which will feel awesomer.

Stratum by Dino Parenti

Samson:

Some of the phrases in this piece are just right…

And the understatement throughout–beautiful.

Originally posted on Cease, Cows:

If you missed it, don’t fret. From up here, the raised thumb of the Yucatan Peninsula passes beneath me sixteen times a day. Whenever possible, I finger-trace the submerged impact depression of the Chicxulub Crater through a portal. Stroke the big rock that ended the Cretaceous Era. When you can touch something that’s never been touched, it should be the final act of your life.

Twenty years ago, as the tour guide prattled on about diving-depth limits, this was on my mind. See, I hadn’t flown a thousand miles to Chicxulub to hunt for pearls. Nor did I end up here last week just to drop a few steel sepulchers into geosynchronous orbit. But to straddle time, one needs staging.

***

Human physiological limit with scuba gear is around two hundred feet.

A five millimeter layer of Neoprene, a quarter inch of tank steel, and assorted plies of rubber and…

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Everett Southbound

Motion

The world moves quickly.

I’m implicitly biased

This recent episode of Philosophy Bites is a good one. The topic is the implicit biases we all have. Jennifer Saul, the head of the philosophy department at University of Sheffield, outlines research on the subject and, quite rightly, calls her own profession on the carpet for having a strong male bias.

Best quote of the cast: “I think a bit more humility would be good for the profession.”

The most intriguing line: “It turns out that even being primed with objectivity makes you more prone to biases.”

Here’s a few questions it raised for me: If I have inescapable biases, how do I deal with them? Does acknowledging my biases help mitigate their impact, or does it simply mean that I’m transparent about my irrational beliefs while still having them? Should we all make a list of our biases and share them like business cards?

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