What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Busses. I spent more of the week than I want to admit thinking about busses. One of the “other duties as assigned” that landed on my desk years ago for reasons that still defy logic, is facilitating a couple of charter busses to haul people from the office down to DC for an annual trade show every fall. It’s a boondoggle that was happily suspended due to the Great Plague for the last two years. It’s back with a vengeance for 2022, though, so now I’m in a great paper chase to figure out what hoops must be cleared to reserve, pay for, and fill up a couple of busses for people who are mostly interested in walking the exhibit floor and filling their bags up with cheap giveaway swag. 

2. Duplicate names. I do my best when it comes to naming posts not to repeat myself. After 3,715 posts, though, some dupes slip through. It makes me absolutely buggy when I catch the site address reading something like jeffreytharp.com/duplicate-name-2. If I’d have had any idea that I’d be almost 4,000 posts deep all these years later, I’d have probably kept better track of titles as I went along, but it seems that ship has probably sailed. I’m certainly not going to go back and try to track it all at this late date. Just know, when you see a duplicate name it’s just a small thing that makes me want to burn down the whole internet. 

3. Reality avoidance. So, we have stubbornly high inflation, two quarter decline in gross domestic product, and a midterm election barely three months away. The president has released a statement saying, in part “we are on the right path.” It’s hard to imagine a more tone-deaf thing to say minutes after the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases their quarterly report indicating that we’re now in an economic environment that’s commonly called recessionary. In 1988, George H.W. Bush got throttled at the polls because he was out of touch with the domestic economy. In 1980, Jimmy Carter was turned out of office largely on the back of high inflation and negligible economic growth. I get that most people like to forget history, but if I’m a Democrat running in a competitive race in 2022, I’m scared to death that my party’s leaders are determined to avoid reality.

Letting go…

So, because it’s the thing that’s preoccupied the bulk of this long weekend, it seems that I can’t quite get my mind off the impending availability of Retribution. We’re in that interminable stretch where the retail giants are doing their thing. I have absolutely no control over how that process works itself out… and since a writer, at least an independent, has absolute control over every other step of the process, I’m finding this moment of “letting go” an absolute agony.

I’m not lunatic enough to think this little offering of mine is going to sell a million copies or really change the world in any appreciable way. It’s one small story out of hundreds (thousands?) that gets self published online every day of the year. The only difference is that this one is mine. That doesn’t make a lick of difference to the world, of course, but it makes all the difference in the world to me. That’s not surprising since this story has been living completely in my head for the last six months. I never really thought of myself as the “creative type,” at least until I sat down at the keyboard and realized creativity isn’t just paint on canvas or chisels and stone. I’ve heard that kind of self-discovery is a good thing.

For the first time so far in 2014 I’m sitting here without an active project in front of me demanding time and attention. Being “done” is a good feeling. It’s a happy place. It’s fulfilling in a way that’s rather hard to articulate. It’s also full of a gut wrenching fear that about whether what you’ve done is good enough; whether it’s going to pass muster with the dozen or so family and friends who you might be able to convince to give it a read.

So there’s your Sunday morning sample of what it’s like being inside my head. When you add that to the daily requirements of dealing with an unrelenting tide of stupid people, I’d say it leaves little doubt about why I end every day completely exhausted.

Routine…

From what I’ve been able to gather from my, admittedly, limited experience, writing is as much a force of habit as anything. Whether it’s blogging, the great American novel, or a run of the mill short story, the only secret I’ve discovered is that the the only way to get words on the page is to sit down and hammer at the keyboard as part of your routine. I’m sure there are methods that work for others, but that’s what works for me. Well, it’s what works all-work-and-no-playfor me until it doesn’t work. If I can be frank, the since Thanksgiving, I’ve had an appalling track record of sitting down and making any more than a cursory effort.

It might not show so much here, but my daily world count is in the pits after months and months of hitting at least 1000 words a day. I don’t know if it’s just the lull between the holidays, some kind of creativity burn out, running out of things to say, or just too much time doing other stuff, but whatever switch turns on when you’re really hitting your stride is nowhere to be found at the moment. That’s not to say that the juice couldn’t magically start flowing tomorrow, but for now it’s missing without a trace.

Tonight I’m going to struggle to get to half of my usual word count. If I happen to hit 600 words, that’s practically a cause for celebration. I’ve often thought that the best writers, the prolific ones, must be creatures of habit – that the must have some kind of internal disipline to churn out words even when they’re not feeling it. The more I write, and the more seriously I take it as a craft, I learn that no two days at the keyboard are alike. There are high points and there are slumps. I know that if I stay with it long enough, I’m going to find my swing again… but for now, I’m going to just try being pleased that I’m hitting 500 words instead of 300 on a regular basis.

Repeating myself…

This is my 709th post, not including the two years worth of material I lost when MySpace when the way of the dodo bird. After more than 700 posts, across six years, two blogging platforms, and in excess of 15,000 page views I worry sometimes that I’m repeating myself. Part of that stems from just not being all that creative and part of it is that as an adult productive member of society most of days tend to be pretty similar – which means I have a tendency to have the same experiences over and over again. I mean when you spend five days a week doing some variation of get up, drive to work, work, drive home, make dinner, go to bed there’s an upward limit of how many new experiences you’re going to have.

That of course is a little troublesome when you make your bones trying to write things that people will find interesting. Honestly, I never thought I’d still be blogging this far along. If I did, I would have been anal retentive enough to build some kind of index so I could try not to repeat myself too often. Since I didn’t do that and we’re too far along to start now, you’re just going to be stuck with whatever random idea happens to pop into my head on any given day… and when I repeat myself just smile and nod the same way you would when your great aunt Fanny tells you the same story for the 273rd time. I’ll do my best to self edit that sort of thing, but won’t make any promises. Since my routine isn’t apt to change any time in the near future, you’re pretty much stuck with it, so don’t go complaining now that you’ve been warned.