The problem with having writing on a computer – more specifically, writing a blog, is that it is way too easy to start tinkering.
There, at the top of the screen as I write, is a tab shouting "Design". Writing is hard, I’m easily distracted, and this tab holds out a promising invitation – yea, life would be so much better if I could just get that shade of blue for my banner – you know, the one that happens in the evening sky that makes everything so clear and your heart ache. Now that, I think, would communicate something meaningful.
Next to this tab is one shouting "configure", calling to my nerd soul, a promise of some as-of-yet unfound setting that will make this the coolest blog ever (though I am way past the age where anything I do could, or should, be labeled ‘cool’). And off I go, techman on the loose, wandering through tip pages and tracking down obscure template tags.
Or that tab with my bookmarks, promising something inspiring. Off I go visiting my haunts to see what’s up, maybe write about something aside from my self here, practice commentary, I think, become a respected … well, something grandiose here. And, hours later it is past time for lunch, past time for bed, and my brain is too fogged from this aimless journey to write anything at all.
Good writing stems from honest connection, I believe, and after traipsing about for hours, well, I’ve read a lot of interesting stuff, but don’t feel connected to anything. Lease of all my own life, which is where all good connection starts.
Thinking about this mind fog today, why I never get to writing, I realized it felt familiar. It felt like the fog that seems to settle over me when I go to the video store. When I am walking down the street with Carl, and I say "You hungry" and he says "Yea, where do you want to go?"
These situations, my mind goes blank. I haven’t the faintest idea what I want to watch. All those carefully noted flicks, really, I was interested when Zack was talking about them, was listening when Dale, said "You have to see … " But it evaporates. I wander around, all the covers start to look the same. Nothing comes to mind but grey wool.
And, well, don’t get me started about restaurants. There are probably a hundred restaurants in the area, at least twenty within a block of the street, and we wind up at Ken’s Pizza, same as always. Despite the fact that just yesterday, I had walked past (really, I did, I can’t remember the name, but I do remember thinking, honestly) that new restaurant, and though "I’d like to try this place" and consciously made a note to bring it up next time the dreaded "Where do you want to go?" question came up.
It is so bad the kids groan when I say "I don’t feel like cooking tonight, how ’bout we go out to eat?" While they love to go out, they are sick of Ken’s (and, I might note, having watched "Super Size Me" twice apiece in the midst of adolescent righteousness, they won’t go to McDonalds or that ilk).
Grey wool. Where am I when that happens? How the hell am I going to write from here if all there is is this cloud of fluffy dirty-white stuff?
I could try to rig the blog so every time I hit post, I go into full screen mode. ("Hey", the geek awakens, "I think I saw something about that on slash dot").
I think the key is connection. Conscious connection with something real. Something in my body is a good place to start, it is real, and has the advantage of being always available. Something simple like maybe my breathing.
Where have I heard this before? Maybe those Zen folks are right …