When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.
You make the path boldly and follow it fearfully. You go where the path leads. At the end of the path, you find a box canyon. You hammer out reports, dispatch bulletins.
The writing has changed, in your hands, and in a twinkling, from an expression of your notions to an epistemological tool. The new place interests you because it is not clear. You attend. In your humility, you lay down the words carefully, watching all the angles. Now the earlier writing looks soft and careless. Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.
So, the holidays got in the way of working, as they normally do. I’ve pretty much done nothing but eat and visit for the past two weeks, as one does on the holidays. So, discipline, yeah, I have none. So much for blogging on Wednesdays. That’s obviously something that I should have started after New Years.
I’ve read, in the glut of “how to keep your new years resolutions” things that have been showing up in the past week or so that it is better start one habit at a time, in order to be more likely to actually succeed in building and maintaining it. This is probably good advice, but sometimes I feel like I have so many bad habits that need breaking, and so many things I need to start changing about my life, that I want to start them all now. Probably a bad idea. So, today, I decided that I need to work on developing a habit of drawing. Yes, I’m an artist, and I don’t really draw, or, don’t consider myself very good at it. Mostly, I’m just out of practice, because I don’t do it nearly enough. So today I recycled a lot of paper. Because it’s all about practice, and I’m more likely to open my sketchbook and do something if opening it doesn’t make me feel inadequate by forcing me to look at skills-that-are-crap-when-I’m-rusty. And, really, after a few hours of warming up, I’m not too bad at this drawing thing, and practice will definitely help. So, here’s to creating new habits, like drawing every day, and here’s to tools to help you do it. Like pixelovely’s Figure Drawing Training Tool, which is damn useful for practice.
And to remind me that sometimes process isn’t everything, and doesn’t need to show (so I’m allowed to toss/burn/recycle/feed-to-the-cat my bad drawings) here’s a quote from Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life” (italics mine):