Friday, January 13, 2012

What I Learned

Last night at writers' group I was lavished with love and attention. I'm not talking about your Motel-6, pull off the road late at night on your way to South Carolina love and attention; I'm talking about your George Cinq walk through the front door famous, important and unannounced love and attention.

It's one thing when your mom takes time to listen to you and ask you questions; it's another when the people listening are experts who really know topic. A little voice inside my head kept saying, "OK, too much time for you. I said, 'too... much... time... for... YOU.' Are you REALLY going to eat the last of the fried ocra? What about everyone else?"

Jenny, Wil, Susan and Iris, thank you. Y'all are so much more than I deserve.

After group, Iris and I talked.

All night long, I processed.

Here's what I learned about me.

Why do I write every morning?
The first thing that comes to mind is ridiculously simple; I write every morning because I said I would. It seems so pedestrian and uninspired, but when I dig down to the bottom of my stack of motivations, it's the one supporting all the others. There are days that I don't particularly feel like writing. There are days when allocating time to writing is going to cost me big-time. There are days I can't wait to write. There are days I don't write. Still, the core of it is simple: I told Iris I'd write every day unless someone else had already done so, and I do.

It's not the only motivation; it's simply the common thread.

A side-effect of writing nearly every day (verus every day) is being able to see an unanticipated side-effect of writing: I feel stronger, clearer and more focused on the days that I write. A secondary reason is: I write because it feels good to write.

Writing for whom?
Last night Will pointed out that there's always someone for whom you're writing. It can be someone particular or a synthesized aggregate of everyone who ever... or the world court hearing your case. Will asked me, "So, who do you write for? Who do you picture as you write?"

A lot of mornings I'm keenly aware of the who part. I write for my dad. I write for Scott. I write for Jonathan. I write for Mark K. I write for people who don't understand autism; I write for people who do.

There are mornings when I'm more aware of method and technique. I write with Will and Jenny in mind. I try to hear their feedback and guidance. I take time to read what I've written and to rework it. I take time to enjoy the craft.

Other mornings, it's not so clear. I write to clarify and understand. There's something about translating vague thought into prose that helps. On those mornings, my awareness is different. I write to me.

Who and Why?
I realize that the who is intimately related to the why. There's part of me that would like to be a great writer. There's part of me that would like to write things that people find helpful or uplifting. I'd like to do both, but if time forces a choice then the latter trumps the former.

I don't always know if what I write is useful to anyone. It's really nice when someone tells me that they found a post useful. I just have this sense of common threads woven among us and that the more different you are, the less likely you are to find them. If you're way down the tails of the bell curve, it's nice just to see that someone else thinks like you do.

I'd probably write even if I were the only one ever to read what I'd written. (Sometimes I'm pretty sure that I am). If nothing else, I'll be able to look back a few years from now and say to myself, "What the heck was I thinking when I wrote that?"

Unruly Child
Another thing I learned last night is that I'm an unruly child of the universe. Unruly children hold the belief that it ain't necessarily so. We always look for the flaw in the defenses, the hint that dictate handed down from above may have loopholes.

My daughter Joy was an unruly child always looking to see if you really meant it when you said, "No." At three, my grandson Jack is keenly aware of whether or not someone has what it takes to back up his ultimatums. My dad developed unruly childishness later in life.

Of all of us, I'm the most incorrigible. I know that in statistics there is no such thing as 100% probability. Therefore, even if the experience of all mankind were to say thus and such, I'd maintain this indefatigable belief that it ain't necessarily so.

Illogical
Another thing that I learned is that I've come so far in my efforts to appear logical and left-brained, that people think I am. I never thought I'd pull it off.

I don't think like most people. I don't think like almost all engineers. I don't work through problems step-by-step, figuring out the answers. I just see them.

When I wrote music as a kid, I didn't learn theory and composition and how to build up arrangements. I just heard the parts and learned how to write them down.

It's the same with software. I see what I want to do and start typing.

However, there's a problem with that if you're working with engineers. They want you to explain what you're doing and why it's going to work. So I learned to translate my visual intuition into logical prose. Over time I got faster and better at it to the point that I can do it in real time. It sounds as though I'm building a logical argument when in fact I'm just deconstructing what I see and reconstructing it in prose.

I hadn't realized how good I'd got at it.

There's More
I've got so much more processing to do.

Will, Susan, Iris and Jenny,
thank you, thank you, thank you!

Happy Friday,
Teflon

1 comment:

  1. Awesome and then some! Thanks for sharing yourself with us and particularly with me. FYI I read all of your posts and secretly wish everyone else would slack off so I could get more. No offense, everyone else, I love and read all of your posts too and am enriched, entertained and enlivened by you. It's just that Mark's my favorite.

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