publishing

Writing: Do Not Go Gentle . . .

You ever want to not be done with something you’re creating? Ever held on to a project until the last minute when it was finally wrenched from your sweating hands?

project anxietyI know I have.

I had a very strange childhood in many ways, but there were some blips of normalcy here and there. One of them was a visit to the amusement park now known as Six Flags California. I had anticipated it so much and for so long that when we drove into the parking lot, I burst into tears. I sensed there was no way it could live up to my breathless expectations. I also knew in a only few hours it would be over. I’d need to let go at some point. My mother and father needed to wrestle me out of the car and frogmarch me through the gates to enjoy the roller-coasters.

I also was pretty sure they were going to fight, they being unable to even approximate  — even for a few hours during a special occasion — a “normal” family. And I was right.

Anyway, I look back on that moment every time I get close to finishing something. I also remember it before I start anything new. I fear at some point it will need to be over, and that fear almost stops me from beginning.

If it’s something I am creating on my own, there’s another factor: I know it’s never going to be good enough by my own standards. Saying something is “finished” means simply that YOU are finished. Nothing’s ever really finished. Nothing’s perfect. Saying so is a bit of an affront to God, really. There’s always more to be said — more to be done.

Yeah, this is how I justify procrastination. I’m really, really good at it, too.

I ran across this article on Twitter: End of Book Depression Solved! My immediate thought: “What the hell does that mean?” But, the title worked on me. I read the article.

It describes this post-partum depression common to so many creators. We don’t want the project to be over. We know it’s not going to really be “done.” We know we’d be lying in some way if we ever said so. Or perhaps we fear that if we comfortably meet a deadline, we’ll feel that we were sandbagging — holding back in some way. If there’s still time on the clock, we weren’t really giving it our all . The ideal approach is to keep screwing with it — tinkering, optimizing, correcting, honing — right up until we simply must move on. The article offers some satiric tips on dealing with this “book depression.” I don’t think I’d recommend any of them. They sound a lot like what kept me from finishing Diamond-T for 22 years or so.

The creative mind never goes gentle into that good night. I’m sure better writers than I say “Shiiiiiii . . . did I really . . .? Sometimes, they say this in public — even though they really shouldn’t. The customer doesn’t need to know everything about how that delicious sausage is made.

So what can you take from this? Only this: nothing is ever done. We just call it at some point and hope it works. And hope that we’ve done something of substance, or beautiful, even. And there’s something wonderfully human in this hope. It enables us to live. We live on hope.

And yes, I think Eye of the Diamond-T is something like that: Something substantial; perhaps something beautiful. I hope you enjoy it.

But, is it “done?” I dunno. Is life ever “done?”

Hey Critics: In the Future, Book Judges YOU!

A Dutch artist comes up with an idea that just might help the world: A book that won’t open unless you appear to be in the right frame of mind to read it.

You won't be able to read the unemployment report today, Mr. President.

You won’t be able to read the unemployment report today, Mr. President.

“To open the book you must align your face within the cover’s robot visage. A camera at the top of the cover captures your facial position, and Nxt software processes the abstracted data to determine your emotional state. If you’re overly expressive (a smile or scowl, for instance) the screen behind the cover will blink red. A neutral facial position will turn the screen green and send an audio signal to an Arduino board that will pop the metal lock open.” — from Wired

Think of other uses for this technology: You could put an “emotionality lock” on your phone to keep you from calling your ex- during a breakup. Trying to post to Facebook when you’re feeling snide or angry? Bad idea (usually). Hey! There’s an app for that. Maybe you shouldn’t be driving angry. DON’T DRIVE ANGRY!  Don’t worry: technology’s got you covered. Chill out.

The utopian in me says that we should make books, phones, cars, and even toasters operate only if the users are smiling. We could use a lot more smiles in the world. This would help.

Yes? No? You don’t like that idea? I can tell. I can see you frowning.

book-cover-

Eye of the Diamond-T is a book with a cover that won’t judge you. At least the current edition won’t. Get more info HERE.