I often think of Steven Covey’s reminder to take time to “sharpen the saw.”
Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes on exercise for physical renewal, prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to the society for spiritual renewal.
I’ve been feeling quite “stretched” over the past year, trying to accommodate duties to family, job and community, in addition to writing and trying to recharge, which I best do by taking time to play music. The problem is that by trying to attend to all of these aspects of my life, I don’t attend to any of the adequately, or so it seems. On top of that, the issues that I want to write about tend to be complex, or that is the way I tend to see them. Therefore, most of the writing I try to do begs for serious research and time-consuming writing. Looking back over the past year, at least as a general rule, I see that I haven’t adequately taken the time to write about the topics that interest me in way that adds much of value to the conversation.Too much of my blogging consist of citing to trackbacks while making an observation or two.
In the meantime, I have various growing outlines with many dozens of topics that I’m contemplating and developing. I’m excited about some of these ideas because I have some original approaches to some of them. I’d love to write about them, and I will. But I find that I’m not able to deal with them well, at least until now. I often made the judgment that it’s better to not write at all on many topics rather than to throw words around sloppily. The bottom line is that I’ve been writing somewhat less than I have in the past, despite my dream of writing more and doing it better.
This time “away” has been good for me. My mind seems more focused, at least to me inside my own head. This is the essence of Covey’s admonition to “sharpen the saw.” I feel more at peace when I am more selective, despite my unrealistic urge to live multiple simultaneous lives pursuing everything that interests me.
I think I’m about to get into a better writing spot soon, thanks to this new approach of being more selective. I’m definitely not “burned out.” I’m quite interested in writing better and adding something worthy to all of the world-wide chatter. My hope for this blog is found in the About Page: “This blog will focus on using current events as a springboard to higher-level discussions about human animals and the human condition.” This is where I need to focus–not on the day to day events, but on merely noting these fascinating (and oftentimes distressful) occurrences and using them as fodder for making deeper sense of the world.
Part of my optimism for more better writing stems from the completion of an enormously distracting task. My aging home computer had been slowing gradually and then dramatically due to mal-ware and likely other technical issues. I’ve probably spend 40 hours over the past 3 months trying to make my PC fast again, and I recently gave up. I bought a new PC, and just spent another 12 hours transferring data to the new drive as well as installing and validating the many programs I use. As of today, that task is done–everything is humming. To given an example of how bad things got, MSWord now opens in about a second. Last week, it took about 3-5 minutes to open. I used 4 virus/malware/spyware removal programs. I defragged and diagnosed my drive. I cleaned out unneeded software. I failed to figure out how to remove the damned Babylon malway, despite many approaches. The slow speed and perhaps viruses screwed up my software to my scanner, which led to a 6 hour diversion (fixed when I bought the new computer and reinstalled the software. My data has always been safe, in that I have multiple levels of backup in multiple locations.
As to my old PC, I wiped it’s memory clean, and put to use in a bedroom, where it still runs unimpressively yet adequately.
With these technical problems behind me and my new focus, I’m looking forward to doing some serious writing in the coming days, and making some new videos in the coming months.
I’m hoping that, from now on, my hours sitting in front of my computer will be spent writing rather than tweaking and fixing.
I agree with this observation by Glenn Greenwald:
The highest compliment one can give a writer is not to say that one wholeheartedly agrees with his observations, but that he provoked — really, forced — difficult thinking about consequential matters and internal questioning of one’s own assumptions, often without quick or clear resolution.
Where do you go if you want to write a story using characters from existing books and TV shows, or even borrowing real people? My 13-year old daughter told me about two popular places: Fan Fiction and Archive of Our Own.
A quick tour of either of these sites will amaze you. You will find hundreds of thousands of stories written by regular folks based on pre-existing characters. Sometimes the store is 100 words long, and other times its 100,000 words. Varying quality, of course, and invitations for feedback.
I had no idea that there were such places.
What else can be said about National Geographic’s photos that hasn’t already been said? Check out the National Geographic Homepage for photography for many jaw-dropping photos, including this photo of Camel Thorn Trees, Namibia.
How often do you cross paths with a parent who is attempting to make his or her children in the parent’s image and likeness? I see it on a regular basis. The prototypical case is the parent who didn’t make it to the Broadway stage who tries to turn his/her child into a Broadway performer. You often see parents who demand athletic excellence from their kids, often (it seems) in an effort to compensate for the parent’s failed strivings to make it big in sports. This style of parenting reaches every high-earning or high-prestige profession. Or maybe it’s not to make up for the parents own failings as much as it is an attempt to create a trophy child so that, at cocktail parties, the parent can nonchalantly drop a few hints about his or her child’s (sometimes admittedly spectacular) accomplishments.
This afternoon, a friend sent me a perfect antidote for this mindset. It’s a poem by Kahlil Gibran, titled “On Children.”
Upon reading it, I was reminded of the following quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “What does your conscience say? — ‘You should become the person you are’.”
I don’t write horror stories, but I did find this summary of Steven King’s advice on how to write useful.