This is not the post you’re looking for. My internet just turned off. I was in the middle of a big client deadline – I hate when that happens.
But hey, I got a little cleaning done – I haven’t done a lot since this deadline was looming – so that was a good thing, right? It was a nice diversion; I almost went outside or read one of the many books piling up on my table. I have a lot of reading to do. I’m also posting this from my tethered iPhone, which I hope doesn’t push me over my data limit for the month. I know, I know: #firstworldproblems
There’s a struggle-saturated stigma that surrounds creative work, and I’m not sure why; perhaps we spend too much time talking about how creative work is hard. Every job is hard.
So there I was, sitting on the floor, reaching for one of those books, my keys, or my vacuum (I hadn’t decided) when I remembered my keyboard.
You remember my keyboard. I use it every day to code websites, check email, write notes down for writing projects I haven’t started, etc. That one. It’s a good little keyboard (Apple, wired, full-size) and serves me well, all things considered. (@NPR) As per my routine, I haven’t used that keyboard for writing in a while, just working and talking to people. Yes, it’s all writing, but I’m talking about the kind of stuff that you’re reading now. The kind of stuff that I’m not sure I should be posting on my website, because I only like to publish Really Super Amazing Great Stuff™. (Also, did I mention I was tethered?)
I haven’t published much RSAGS™ as of late, because I’ve neglected the time of day when I should be making the clackity noise.
I write all day long, in a variety of contexts. I have notebooks of various sizes spread throughout my apartment, one tucked away in my car, at least two in my backpack, and a small one that I carry around for emergencies. (Read: Every time I’m out of the house.) These notebooks have a variety of information in them, from Bible commentaries to would-be future RSAGS™ if I would ever sit down and make the clackity noise. I’ve written about my notebook(s) in the past, because they really do play a big part in my daily life. Apparently I used to love sub-categories as well, which didn’t help with the writing one bit.
I’m glad I didn’t, though, because I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to write. I’ve been trying to make the clackity noise every night for the last week, which hasn’t ended well. I keep pushing it off to read a book or do this sleep thing that some of my fellow humans like to do.
Translated: I’ve been pushing it off for reasons that will always be there.
I’ve learned that my job is to just sit down and start making the clackity noise. If I make the clackity noise long enough every day, the “writing” seems to take care of itself. On the other hand, if there’s no clackity noise, no writing. No little stories. The stories may be in there, alongside who knows what else, but there’s no way to know. You must make the noise.
Maybe just try it. You don’t even have to show anyone. Make the clackity noise until a little story falls out. Just a little bit and just for a little while. Just until you notice one tiny, dumb, pointless story that the keyboard wanted you to remember.
There are days when I wonder why I feel like there needs to be a big reason to do something. It would seem that I’m always searching for a deep, meaningful, etherial purpose to just sit down and make stuff. The reason you make things is because you have to, not because you have some great reason. That’s not always enough, though. Sometimes you have to decide that the need to purge your brain onto paper supersedes stuff like snoozing or snacking. There will always be great reasons not to do something, but if the desire to do something persists, you might want to pay some attention before it consumes you.
None of this feels useful, but I’m going to go ahead and post it anyway. At this point I’m monologuing internally about why I need to write more, which serves my need to do both when I can’t work on a stressful client deadline. Writing helps; it takes away the itch, the ache. I’m not sure why it does, nor do I care. I still need to get the client work done and I’d like to have some cell data left for the rest of the billing cycle. What kills me about all of this is knowing that I may switch this post to “Draft” after a week. There may not be an archive of this one, because I’ll feel like it’s too horrible to leave exposed.
The internet affords us a great opportunity: we can remove the pieces of ourselves that we don’t like. When the service goes down, however, I stop to wonder which of those pieces should remain. Which ones should I leave exposed, assuming I could never come back and look at them again? Would I ever release anything if I knew there was no editing allowed? What if everything you said could never be taken back, what if every post was embedded in someone’s mind because they listened when you spoke?
Would that really be so horrible? Kinda sounds like life offline, actually. I hope that the fear of people seeing my work (before I have a chance to take it down) doesn’t stop me from making the clackity noise anytime soon. I don’t intend to write like this very often, but I’d like to keep this one just the same. It’s proof that my fingers still know their way around the keyboard (you remember, my Apple unit) even if those keys somehow magically change places every time I sit down to write instead of code, email, etc. Even though I believe polish is one of the most important things in creative work, it’s also really tough to keep moving your hands if you have to stay in the lines every time.
Dropbox is telling me that my internet is still off, so I’m going to grab my vacuum and go outside. (Just checking to see if you’re awake.) Thanks for reading – I’d like to work on this whole polish thing. For now, today, I made the clackity noise.