The Summer Notebook Dilemma, or Why I Don’t Write That Much, Either

Should I be doing this or sitting down to that writing task? Hmmmm... tough decision.

Should I be doing this or sitting down to that writing task? Hmmmm… tough decision.

Here’s the biggest problem with the summer notebook thing: you have to write, unless your voice-to-text feature has the patience to listen and faithfully record your thoughts for a solid half hour or so.

If you’re unschooled in the art of writing, you might call your own reluctance to write by the name of laziness or procrastination. Maybe I say this only to make myself feel better about my own reticence, but I don’t think it’s necessarily laziness or procrastination that makes us avoid the notebook and the keyboard, or makes you sit at the computer fully intending to open Word while you open youtube instead.

Prior to committing my fingertips to keys for this post, I found it easier to make a list of the posts I intended to write rather than to jump in and write one. And as I write words while avoiding thinking about the words I’m going to write. But in this warm-up, in this Hamletesque space between thought and action, I hear a couple of writers speaking comforting words about my plight. Even though Hemingway put a bug in my ear first, I’m going to let Conrad speak from Heart of Darkness:

“No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don’t like work – no man does – but I like what is in the work – the chance to find yourself. Your own reality – for yourself, not for others – what no other man can ever know. they can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.

Ironic moment disclosure – the “work” I have been referring to is dragging out my iPad to find the particular quotes from the New Yorker and from Moby Dick that will be the dialoguing partner in the posts I’m trying not to write. But as I started (mis)quoting Conrad, I became extremely self-conscious about the nagging error in my sequencing of the words, and was thus forced to pull ou the iPad to look up the exact quote. It irritates me to no end that I will undermine my purpose of writing about not writing  because my discomfort with not being right is so strong.

The other quote is easier to remember, and it’s about the nature of the work that is writing, and that is Hemingway’s “I hate writing. I love having written, but I hate writing.”

All this priming of the pump, to quote Peter Elbow (I’m a quote machine today, baby!) seems to have gotten me started, so I will interrupt my empathetic post about why I’m finding it difficult to write about Moby Dick (not knowing what to write about is part of the problem, or not thinking I can sound smart enough in whatever it is I write), I’m going to take on one of the nice surprises I found when I made the time to get caught up on the many back issues of the New Yorker that I neglected while we were all doing that school thing.

News Break: It was at this point in the writing that I started the post I’m going to post tomorrow.


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