not a clever man

It might seem to the outside observer, who only keeps track of me through this blog — and I do believe there are a few — that the last couple weeks have seen me sitting around doing nothing but play Star Trek Online (which I do every night, no YOU’RE the one with the problem) and eat vegan bonbons. The thing is, though, I’ve been very busy. I have a new dayjob that includes a hellish daily commute, which is a problem that will solve itself once I can telecommute, and my drastically increased income has brought along with it a greater proportion of my home life’s responsibilities, the combination of which occupies the bulk of my time. While I do carve out time for writing, thinking about writing, and doing research for writing, there’s an unseen factor that some may not take into consideration: many of my projects fail before they even see the end of a first draft.

It’s not just because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and also a bit of a magpie in terms of attention span. There’s also the fact that I can start a project, get well into it, then realize that it’s a bad idea. I set out towards a goal and get lost along the way. I end up in a bad place. I look back upon my work and say to myself “I am not a clever man.”

This is an over-simplification, of course. Having the wherewithal to exercise self-awareness to the point of realizing the flaws in one’s own work indicates a base level of cleverness. But I digress.

This failure rate is due in part to ill-defined scope — I have an idea and can visualize key moments but there’s no connective tissue or narrative flow — and an over-abundance of self-interest — characters and situations that resonate too much with people and events from the real world. While we write what we know, to write based on experiences to the point that direct parallels can be drawn feels, to me, a bit self-indulgent. It’s cathartic, sure, but not everybody is interested in seeing me work out my problems in publicly available prose.

So, into the bin it goes. Either I turn to a new page in my writing notebook, or I leave the draft to sit incomplete and ignored somewhere on the cloud before I eventually mine it for ideas in a better story, or just delete it entirely. This can also happen mid-project: there’s a reason I haven’t recorded a vlog in a while. The format wasn’t great and my delivery needed tons of work. I also wasn’t terribly confident and, as mentioned above, a little self-indulgent. Not my cleverest work.

Still, you can’t get a gem without hacking it out of rock. Alchemy happens with fire, patience, and destruction of imperfections. You have to dice your veggies before you add them to the scramble. So on and so forth.

I’m still here, still working, still being awesome.

Despite my failures.

On Fridays I write 500 words.