Saturday, November 22, 2008

Getting Started

I have barely moved for more than six hours. From this “institutional” couch in the basement of the CSUS library, to the printer and back again, it has been my entire existence from late morning, all afternoon and now into the early evening. I am taking a break. The reading, the culling, the discarding, the organizing and even a little bit of the writing that will comprise one of two papers has moved significantly forward and yet the cold reality is there remains far more to do than has been done. Nevertheless, it has been a very productive day. Tomorrow promises more of the same.

Actually, tonight does as well; it will just be in the more comfortable (and distracting) environment that is my home. Soon I’ll be on my way to a little food, a little rest and not enough relaxation. After socializing briefly with a few friends later on, it’s back home and back to the grind. It will be a long two or three weeks, but at least I have moved large mountains of research today. The light, though still dim, is getting brighter. I doubt very much anyone will hear me complaining about the lengthy break between semesters this year.

When I got to the library this morning, I had little to no motivation. I didn’t want to read (not the stuff I have to anyway) and I didn’t want to write (again, not the stuff I have to). I opened my MacBook Pro and went to my blog, checked in on my bank account and… stalled. Finally I decided to write what I would advise someone else who was having trouble getting started, something I have recently advised a friend going through what I am now. The words rolled around in my head, they began to take their places on the unwritten page... They started to talk to me.

The format I would have used was clear and direct. The theme of the piece started to haunt me. I heard what I was writing and it applied directly to me:

Just start writing…

Just like that? Well, yes and no. For some, for myself many times, "just start writing" means start writing something, anything. But not this time - that old familiar mantra wasn’t prodding me to write just anything and it wasn’t prodding me to write this stuff, as much as I tried to spin it that way. This time, there was something specific and I knew it. I just didn’t know where to start.

Just start writing…

There it was again, as clear as ever. I closed FireFox, closed my email and opened up a Word document and I just started to write. It was not flowing well at all, but I kept writing. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I kept writing. After a potential abstract was cobbled together, I was granted a little bit of clarity and the next several hours were not spent writing at all. Ok, that’s not exactly true, but I don’t exactly count documenting my references in APA format writing. But it is a key and integral part of the process, a time-consuming but necessary component that is no more inclined to write itself than anything else is.

My reward is now this. Writing the stuff I like to write. Learning, sometimes lessons over again, from being a self-aware being. Language separates us from every other known living thing. Words are ours and ours alone. Putting them together in an order that makes any sense at all is not only not easy, it is virtually impossible. Yet we, as a species, do it in our sleep. And then sometimes the words just won’t come.

Just start writing…


awareness said...

when they flow, it is such a high.... when they don't but finally do....they take a different flight, but one that is somehow more rewarding. Maybe its because the effort makes the goal feel so much more meaningful.

barbie2be said...

i hate when i have the pressure of knowing it has to be written. i usually wait until the last minute and then do a poor job of it. :(

michele sent me over to say hi!

Anonymous said...

Ah, the glory of quilting. It applies in my own method because when I don't know where to start, I find "starting in the middle" (parallel to how to begin cleaning the messiest room of the house) works well. Then, from there, in whichever direction flows best, the segments to be pieced together on another day in which "where to start?" -hits.

You've begun. :)