I have days of questioning – some self-doubting, not distrusting self or motives, but questioning the quality and resonance of that which I produce. Pondering, when is it, exactly, that I do my best work?
By that, I mean ‘when do I do my best writing?’
In most other work, I believe I do my best when I am well rested, well prepared, focused, and have only one thing on my plate, in my mind, at one time.
Rarely do I have days when all those elements are present, when I feel that fresh, both physically and mentally available, for writing. Interruptions by others (ringing phones, appointments, a schedule) are those which I allow or ignore. But disruptions I cause or allow – the responsibility finger only points at me: I am the accused, convicted, and responsible for that.
What I find, however, is that most of what I write which I consider good work, my better work, and my more effective work (measured by how I feel about it, and in part by reactions from readers who tell me that piece connected with them) – is when I’m bags under eyes-droopy fatigued. I don’t have time, I don’t have quiet, and I’m exhausted. Who wants to write in that mind-frame?
I wonder if I’m alone v. in-tune with other writers on this, about the when and how of writing well.
Quite the opposite to regular work, of daily business writing when experience has painfully taught that haste or emotions can mess up communications – here I’m just DRAFTING for the page.
I never have to feel rushed, nothing I write ever has to see the light of day. Until I share my words with anyone. Just me, for me.
I don’t think many other things in life allow self-indulgence quite this way. It’s not like aimlessly walking a beach on a vacation day.
I was working late the other night – at my desk, a movie playing on the neighboring screen; it was the Elton John biopic Rocketman. I missed a lot of the action because I was focused on my work, but what came tumbling out of that flick for me, what I was hearing, was a realization that unrequited love and unexplored pain of his life, and of his writing partner’s life, came out so clearly in their music.
Its power was far beyond musical talent on a piano, it’s power was his process, his relentless reckless life, repeatedly brought back from the brink – learning he could write, sing, perform, and be popular when sober, him learning he could exhibit his talent and his angst while clear-headed. In terms of the music, I clearly prefer the real thing to that actor who played him in the movie, but I really appreciated the message.
Not sure that was the message I needed to draw from that movie that night, but it is the one takeaway that lasted till the next morning so I could write this down while the feelings were fresh, and while I was still exhausted.
You dare to be silly in the time of Covid, Mark? I love a good tuna melt but my own personal apex of isolation culinary creation involved a frittata. And who doesn’t enjoy a good frittata? And saying “frittata”. Frittata, RH, Calgary, AB
Haha...love it!, SF, Lethbridge, AB
Good column today, AN, Calgary, AB
I don’t care for tuna, yet this was delicious!, GB, Waukesha, WI
Thanks Mark. Whether we’re stuck inside or not, we always need some good news and funny and silly, LH, Lethbridge, AB
Yesterday, in spite of stupidity from a President was filled with Joy. A good friend has started a new treatment for Alzheimer's which has given him some of his wonderful and humorous personality back. So that is what I am holding onto!! Keep up the amazing work. Thank you, KK, Calgary, AB
Keep writing; add, as you say, share some good news, DW, Oyen, AB
I needed silly so much this morning. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your letter is the first thing I read each day. I don’t know how I found you but I’m sure glad I did. I look forward to your next ’just for fun’ post. Calgarians do crisis well, LF, Calgary, Alberta