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Sunday, September 13, 2009
"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
I’ve always taken to heart E.L. Doctorow’s meditation on writing, which suggests that we don’t necessarily have to know exactly where we’re going to get there in the end -- and if the journey is indeed the destination, then we’re likely on right path whether we know it or not, with something new (if not necessarily good) right around the next corner.
This serves pretty well as a guiding principle for writing, which for me has always represented a stumble into the unknown. I’ve started many a post without any solid idea where it should go, how it will end, or exactly what I’m trying to say. More often than not, the ideas and words seem to materialize from the mist -- sometimes one at a time, sometimes all in a rush – and only when it’s finally done do I begin to understand what it’s really about.
I think the same principle applies to real life, and suspect that’s pretty much what most of us do anyway. Plans? Sure, we all make plans for the future, but even those who attempt to chart the course of their lives all the way into retirement (and beyond...) are only imagining a fantasy reality somewhere out there in the impenetrable murk. There's nothing wrong with such carefully constructed plans, but nobody knows what blind curves and thousand-foot drop-offs lie on the road ahead. Plans are fine as a general idea, but a rigid adherence to those plans can lead you right over the edge and into the abyss. Flexibility is important in every aspect of life.
It's all part of the deal – you don’t really find out what lies ahead until you get there, and at that point you just have to wing it.
One year ago marked the first anniversary of this blog’s launch. Now, as then, I have no idea where it’s going: I’m just pushing on into the clammy gray mist, following those twin beams of light and hoping for the best. Having noted that first year with an explanation of how it all came about, I won’t bore you with a re-hash. I’ll add only this: if you’re new to this space, it might be helpful to read the very first post, which lays out where this blog comes from, and what I’m trying to do here.
Whether the second year was any more successful in meeting those ephemeral goals is hard to say. “Blood, Sweat, and Tedium” remains – as always – a work in progress, navigating that foggy road at night. I’ve repeated myself a few times, and doubtless will again as the future unfolds, but in an effort to avoid that (and my tendency to whine about how hard this type of work can be), I’ve begun to push the envelope in my definition of suitable blog material. Judging by the underwhelming response to some of these efforts, it’s clear that such experiments don’t always work. That’s okay -- you don’t have to like what you find here; hell, you don’t even have to read it. This blog is one grain of sand on the infinite beach of the Internet, a single tiny voice bleating into the solar wind. If it doesn’t grab your interest or attention, there’s a vast array of other choices at your disposal, and they’re all just a click away.
Much like baseball, blogging seems to be an endeavor rooted more in failure than success, so if I pop up, ground out, or flail at an unhittable strike three more often than any of us would like, such is the nature of this beast -- and my own learning curve. I do my best to write interesting, engaging posts, and when I fall short, it’s not for lack of effort. In the words of Chief Dan George (Little Big Man), “Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
To the handful of you who have been here from the beginning (and who occasionally take the time to let me know what you think), thanks for hanging in. To everyone else, welcome aboard. I never expected this accidental blog to still be going after two full years, and have no idea what the third year will bring. But that doesn’t really matter anymore -- it is what it is, so I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing and try not to look any further down the road than the next post out there in that impenetrable fog.
I hope you’ve been enjoying this as much as I have. Thanks for coming along for the ride.