Friday, March 25, 2011

How to Dismantle a Vicious Circle

A few weeks ago, I had the luxury of experiencing uninterrupted reading time. In two days, I devoured a novel-length interview with Bono conducted over a few years in the "Atomic Bomb"-era by French journalist Michka Assayas. I could write multiple posts about what was said in that book, as well as in the Hitchcock biography I read after that, but the line that comes to mind today is this: Bono said he's never understood writer's block. "Just start with how you feel right now."

How do I feel right now? Like I miss doing this. I used to write BBS more often. I used to take pride in how many posts I could create in a month. I used to look at my viewership stats (never a big following, but loyal). I used to love thinking of ideas and then putting the effort into writing them in some semi-thoughtful (yet still mercifully brief) kind of way. Now I get to it maybe once a month. Why?

It seems to be the Vicious Circle of Practicality. The writing that I enjoy the most ("compressed essays," not "blogs") pays absolutely nothing and is, I've heard, the least popular genre in the bookstore, after poetry. A minute spent BBSing is a minute not spent billing. So what? Well, "billing" financed the trip to Mexico that allowed me to sit on the beach with a gin and tonic and have the uninterrupted reading time in the first place.

I need to bill, so I can take a vacation, so I can relax, so I can read, so I can clear my head, so I can think of new ideas, so I can bill more, so I can take a vacation ...

I'm not sure about this model anymore. I'm going back to fundamentals. I've always maintained that writing is thinking. The two are inseparable. You can't be a good writer without being a good thinker. When I stop writing, I stop thinking. Writing helps me think. Thinking helps me write. This is a virtuous, not vicious, circle.

And hey, if I ever start to think that "compressays" don't pay the bills, I can remember that they do at least help me avoid the psychiatry bill.

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