writing….a mile at a time

by Matt MooneyMay 19, 2010

Cal Poly Library
Creative Commons License photo credit: Reading In Public

As I have recently been writing more often, I have taken note of what the process requires of me.  For those who love to write, I think it’s a little like someone who says they love to exercise.
(I am left only guessing with this parallel to a love affair with physical activity because I do not fall into the camp of cheerful runners- cannot understand it actually- but see in my wife that this camp does exist, even if I am not of it.)

Like running, writing is sort of a love-hate type of deal.  And this is new to me, because for the greater part of the last four years, I only loved writing.  When my writing consisted solely of blogging about what I was thinking or feeling at that particular moment, I walked away having wrestled with something on my mind- and feeling better for it.  This process has grown my affection for writing, as I have come to a place where I now type in order to uncover what I think or feel.  I am much more honest and able to articulate my position through pecking keys than through any other process I have undertaken.

But these days, while writing is still something that I absolutely enjoy- in fact having no equal for the experience that it provides for me, the hate part of the equation has emerged as I sit down to work on a pre-determined subject, not my fleeting thought of the moment.  Thus, writing, for me, is becoming a discipline.  Now, I know that may seem as if the balloon of the art and pleasure has been popped, but I do not think that is actually the case.  Rather, the discipline of writing is like any other discipline in that it now competes for my attention with other desires and distractions, but beauty and lessons lie on the other side of pursuit.

Here’s a sort of top 10 things that writing has taught me:

1.)  Writing forces pockets of stillness and quiet that I unwittingly crave but often fail to manage.  Scripture teaches to “be still and know that I am God.”  And while I cannot confuse my time focused on Him with time telling stories; for me, the two practices seem to feed one another.

2.)  While I set a high bar for things I am involved in, I rarely put significant weight on the opinions of others.  Now, a tinge of this is merely woven into my DNA, while the other part is my conviction.  However, the accompanying downfall with this outlook can be that no undertaking has much risk- because at the end of the day, I want to pour myself into all I do, but if it does not come to fruition as hoped for, then fine.

However, writing, for me, is risky and I hate it.  When the point is to convey a message from one person to another, you cannot dismiss the others quite as easily.  And this is a precarious balance of any content creator- to tell stories in a non-formulaic way that still resonate with someone.  Not sure that makes any sense to anyone but me, but there’s something there.

3.) The list of reasons to not get something done is always longer than the list of reasons why you should do it.  Back to discipline I guess.

4.) Although often thought of otherwise (see #2), I am extremely insecure- not convinced that any great work could include me (please see this more as a reality than a plea for you to tell me otherwise).  It is this reality that keeps the list of “reasons not to act” burgeoning.

5.)  Everyone wants to be a writer until it comes time to put words on a page; this merely speaks to the mirage of sexy that surrounds writing.  The oft heard notion “if I could only get paid to write”, pretty much insures one will never be a writer.

Well, if you have been around here long, you know I never make it to ten- maybe more later.  Is there anything in your life that you want to pursue but haven’t?  It could be a monstrous idea or a tiny undertaking that no one would even really know.

Maybe it’s really not the right time or season or whatever; or maybe you, like me, prefer fantasies to disciplines.

2 Comments

  1. James on May 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    One thing I always wanted to do, and now have done, is blog. I resonate with a lot of what you say about writing.

    Being a fairly laid back person, if I don’t wind up doing something that I’ve “always wanted to do,” I don’t worry about it and surmise to myself I didn’t really want to do it all that badly anyway. 🙂

  2. MM on June 10, 2010 at 9:53 am

    My first love as a child was art. Painting, drawing, designing furniture and floorplans of homes for my dolls, designing clothes. Even art history fascinated me. As a child, we had little money for toys or nice clothes. But dad always had money for crayons or pads of paper or nice paints or at one point, an art teacher to tutor me. I remember him telling me to get into computer art back in the early 80’s before there was such a thing as graphic designers as we know them today. He introduced me to the Koala Pad and Koala Paint if anyone remembers that. I soooo regret not listening to him. I’m nearing my 40’s and have spent nearly 20 years in corporate America in jobs I hate, but pay well. I have two small children now and would love nothing more than to go to part-time art/design school and stay at home with the kids. But I feel like it’s too late. I have health insurance, a steady paycheck, a tiny commute. My life is “safe” in a number of ways and is pretty disciplined, but I’m hungry for more. Starving really. I have no creative outlet right now and I feel that little girl in me isn’t even screaming anymore. She’s just shriveling away. But the idea of doing something like go back to school is completely overwhelming and terrifying. If I were single, it’d be a no-brainer. But I’m not. Having two little ones rely on me for food and shelter is a huge motivator to just stay the course of the life I’ve created for myself, no matter how bad I hate it.

    So I’m struggling with this line between taking a leap of faith and just being stupid. At some point, the pain of being where I’m at will be greater than the fear of making the wrong choice. I guess the change will come at that point. Scary stuff.

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Cal Poly Library
Creative Commons License photo credit: Reading In Public

As I have recently been writing more often, I have taken note of what the process requires of me.  For those who love to write, I think it’s a little like someone who says they love to exercise.
(I am left only guessing with this parallel to a love affair with physical activity because I do not fall into the camp of cheerful runners- cannot understand it actually- but see in my wife that this camp does exist, even if I am not of it.)

Like running, writing is sort of a love-hate type of deal.  And this is new to me, because for the greater part of the last four years, I only loved writing.  When my writing consisted solely of blogging about what I was thinking or feeling at that particular moment, I walked away having wrestled with something on my mind- and feeling better for it.  This process has grown my affection for writing, as I have come to a place where I now type in order to uncover what I think or feel.  I am much more honest and able to articulate my position through pecking keys than through any other process I have undertaken.

But these days, while writing is still something that I absolutely enjoy- in fact having no equal for the experience that it provides for me, the hate part of the equation has emerged as I sit down to work on a pre-determined subject, not my fleeting thought of the moment.  Thus, writing, for me, is becoming a discipline.  Now, I know that may seem as if the balloon of the art and pleasure has been popped, but I do not think that is actually the case.  Rather, the discipline of writing is like any other discipline in that it now competes for my attention with other desires and distractions, but beauty and lessons lie on the other side of pursuit.

Here’s a sort of top 10 things that writing has taught me:

1.)  Writing forces pockets of stillness and quiet that I unwittingly crave but often fail to manage.  Scripture teaches to “be still and know that I am God.”  And while I cannot confuse my time focused on Him with time telling stories; for me, the two practices seem to feed one another.

2.)  While I set a high bar for things I am involved in, I rarely put significant weight on the opinions of others.  Now, a tinge of this is merely woven into my DNA, while the other part is my conviction.  However, the accompanying downfall with this outlook can be that no undertaking has much risk- because at the end of the day, I want to pour myself into all I do, but if it does not come to fruition as hoped for, then fine.

However, writing, for me, is risky and I hate it.  When the point is to convey a message from one person to another, you cannot dismiss the others quite as easily.  And this is a precarious balance of any content creator- to tell stories in a non-formulaic way that still resonate with someone.  Not sure that makes any sense to anyone but me, but there’s something there.

3.) The list of reasons to not get something done is always longer than the list of reasons why you should do it.  Back to discipline I guess.

4.) Although often thought of otherwise (see #2), I am extremely insecure- not convinced that any great work could include me (please see this more as a reality than a plea for you to tell me otherwise).  It is this reality that keeps the list of “reasons not to act” burgeoning.

5.)  Everyone wants to be a writer until it comes time to put words on a page; this merely speaks to the mirage of sexy that surrounds writing.  The oft heard notion “if I could only get paid to write”, pretty much insures one will never be a writer.

Well, if you have been around here long, you know I never make it to ten- maybe more later.  Is there anything in your life that you want to pursue but haven’t?  It could be a monstrous idea or a tiny undertaking that no one would even really know.

Maybe it’s really not the right time or season or whatever; or maybe you, like me, prefer fantasies to disciplines.

2 Comments

  1. James on May 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    One thing I always wanted to do, and now have done, is blog. I resonate with a lot of what you say about writing.

    Being a fairly laid back person, if I don’t wind up doing something that I’ve “always wanted to do,” I don’t worry about it and surmise to myself I didn’t really want to do it all that badly anyway. 🙂

  2. MM on June 10, 2010 at 9:53 am

    My first love as a child was art. Painting, drawing, designing furniture and floorplans of homes for my dolls, designing clothes. Even art history fascinated me. As a child, we had little money for toys or nice clothes. But dad always had money for crayons or pads of paper or nice paints or at one point, an art teacher to tutor me. I remember him telling me to get into computer art back in the early 80’s before there was such a thing as graphic designers as we know them today. He introduced me to the Koala Pad and Koala Paint if anyone remembers that. I soooo regret not listening to him. I’m nearing my 40’s and have spent nearly 20 years in corporate America in jobs I hate, but pay well. I have two small children now and would love nothing more than to go to part-time art/design school and stay at home with the kids. But I feel like it’s too late. I have health insurance, a steady paycheck, a tiny commute. My life is “safe” in a number of ways and is pretty disciplined, but I’m hungry for more. Starving really. I have no creative outlet right now and I feel that little girl in me isn’t even screaming anymore. She’s just shriveling away. But the idea of doing something like go back to school is completely overwhelming and terrifying. If I were single, it’d be a no-brainer. But I’m not. Having two little ones rely on me for food and shelter is a huge motivator to just stay the course of the life I’ve created for myself, no matter how bad I hate it.

    So I’m struggling with this line between taking a leap of faith and just being stupid. At some point, the pain of being where I’m at will be greater than the fear of making the wrong choice. I guess the change will come at that point. Scary stuff.

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