Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How I really spend my life

I have some internal angst about the title of our blog. It feels misleading. I've been staring at a computer screen all day today. It occurred to me, when i looked at the top of this page, that if the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives then maybe I spend my life staring at a machine. I'd like to say, that most of the time with this Apple in my lap I'm writing what will be a brilliant article or chapter in my thesis that will also somehow fantastically transform lives of women who've suffered sexual violence, but actually--if I'm really honest, maybe, I spend my life procrastinating. That's an awful thought. Mostly because I'm afraid of how true it might be. I cleverly justify it as waiting for the next moment of inspiration while checking email, FB, followed blogs, news and journal sites for the umpteenth time. (Of course, these days I have a happy reason to put off serious writing that feels equally if not more important, but I'll save that for another blog). I had a really good week recently. Early morning yoga, a couple of good cups of coffee, and a solid block of no internet--just writing until lunch. After lunch either some editing or out in my second research site interviewing women and getting more inspired, having examples and quotes that I'd weave into the next day's session. I'd come home just in time for dinner with the commune-ers. And I thought, this is so much better than wasting time and feeling guilty for not accomplishing enough, and then I got distracted again. It's not that days like that are unusual, they're just not consistent. Seems everyday has that potential, but I've got a limited, though hopefully expanding capacity for it.

I'm such an amateur and I want to get better. I need to get better. and I think I could really like this, this process of transforming thought onto the page, and then conversely, what is on the page begins to mold my nebulous ideas into more focused observations.

It brings up good things for me. I mean, it brings up some pretty silly things that I wish I could rip out of the notepad of my soul, crumple up and throw away. But it's healthy to work through it--the indiscipline, the fear of failure, the desire to prove something--I'm not even sure to who. maybe myself, maybe you, potential readers. Sometimes I have these exquisite moments, even hours and once in awhile, days when I don't live there. I find myself writing from this place that is centered, where what is expressed somehow deletes my smallness, my ego, from the equation and it is about the idea that is part of something much greater and much more important. It's a tiny contribution to that greatness but the awareness of just how small my part is, is somehow freeing. Inspiring. It doesn't feel very academic. and then I wonder whether it'll work. Are there enough citations? have I engaged 'the literature' as if that's some stack of books and articles that is finite and knowable? Is my writing style too colloquial? or have I over-compensated for my casual voice by throwing in a bunch of barely understandable jargon-filled run-on sentences? or the most terrifying question: is what I have to say worthwhile? the questions kind of kill the creative, centered inspired moments. What I produce during those moments is so much more honoring to the experiences of women who are the subject of my research, and I enjoy writing so much more.

Sometimes though, I don't want to write. And I weary of my own walls. And I want to run outside and spend more of my life like this:


Anonymous said...

As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Romans 10:14-16
This also also a good way to spend your time.

The Stouts said...

I love your honesty. Sounds just like my internal dialog, if I actually wrote it down... The creative endeavor always seems to work that way for me as well. There are moments of fantastic inspiration when everything comes together. There are moments (in much greater number) when I can't seem to make anything positive come out of my efforts, or even to bring myself to make an effort. Recently, however, I have experienced a new kind of moment. Painting even when I'm not inspired. This is a tricky one and I can't say it happens often. Sometimes it helps lay a nice foundation for those moments of brilliance. Sometimes it only makes a mess and I have to redo everything I did. Or maybe this is all just part of the process of making something creative? Hard to say. I will say though, that every person I know involved in creative work of any kind writing, painting or whatever seems to share the experience you just described. :) So you are in good company!

Love you dear friend!

Esther said...

So... I'm reading your blog right now instead of working on my own manuscripts! :) Not that that should make you feel any better, but I hear you. And I wish I was sitting on a mat barefoot. Maybe someday soon.

Soulistic Static said...

I find this eloquent recount of our common daily struggle so honest and humbling. I am thankful for the side of you that wants to be productive as well as the side that takes the time to sit barefoot. I am equally proud of both.

I send lOvE from Berlin!