Tons of shit. 


And my own bad habits.

Among those bad habits is not getting enough sleep so I gotta turn in but I wanted to post this as a starter post which will ferment a while and then I’ll finish it later.

My friend Juan’s posted an article about writing, and mostly about not writing, which is the flip side of writing, it’s bigger meaner older brother. It’s here.

I like it and relate to it.

A couple thoughts off the top of my head, about my own writing (in the sense of ‘what I write’ and in the sense of the activity, of doing writing). I rarely like what I write and I rarely feel comfortable putting stuff out. Writing has gotten less uncomfortable and intimidating and scary over time but only somewhat, and I’ve found new discomforts in it too (like being uncomfortable with recognition as Juan talks about, or feeling like a fake, or feeling unauthorized, or feeling like I talk too much, or feeling like I repeat myself, or feeling like I write a ton but improve only a little, or feeling like I’m spending time I don’t have). What’s improved dramatically though is how I manage/respond to those feelings. They used to shut me down altogether, writing-wise. Now I write despite them, much more easily. The writing still often doesn’t feel good, to do or to put out, but I write anyway. I think about exercise here. I rock climb despite a pretty serious fear of heights, which is part of what makes it fun (the nervous energy is a kick, a rush) and part of what makes it satisfying (defeating this phobia, even though it always comes back the next time I climb, makes me feel good about myself). And I run, even though the first mile or so usually sucks. Writing’s kind of like those for me. Sometimes writing is like climbing, when I’m working out an idea. I like the puzzle quality (with both climbing and writing). Sometimes it’s more like running, where I make myself do it anyway. Sometimes it flips from one to the other, I can start to like it if I get up some momentum, other times I stop liking it and I have to make myself finish stuff (whatever I may be good at as a writer, this thing of actually finishing stuff and being careful about the craft of writing is not high on my list of strengths).

Concretely I’ve figured out about myself that I am basically negatively motivated. Achieving things is rarely motivational, though sometimes it is (like with running, sometimes, when I’m doing it regularly and am trying for a new goal – speaking of which, I ran for 72 minutes the other day, which is the longest I’ve ever run in my whole life, which is cool). What’s always motivational, though, is fear. Fear of punishment, embarassment, letting people down. So most of what I get done is based on avoiding those negative things. So deadlines help me a lot. I hadn’t written much for a while but then I wrote this column for the Industrial Worker because the editor is a friend and asked me to bang something out in short time and I had the time for once. So I did. It was pretty good actually, IMHO. From responses to it, I felt like I hadn’t quite gotten my points right, and I had new questions, so I wrote a follow up that I like too. So deadlines and committing to other people has been huge for me. There are other examples of this for me as a writer. That helps me write even when I don’t want to and it doesn’t feel fun.

More later, maybe. I want to talk about why I think getting more people to write is important in lefty and especially IWW circles. (For me this has become a big part of – which, by the way, we’re getting a collection of writings from the site published. My friend Scott did a ton of work to get it published and I’m excited for that. I’m also proud to say that I helped solicit a lot of the blog posts that ended up in the book and coaxed people to actually do that writing. That makes me feel good. I like a music metaphor for this – if we’re a band, I want to be the kind of band that makes lots of people start bands, much more than I want to be a really impressive band musically or whatever. I’ve heard this said about the Velvet Underground, that maybe only 5000 people saw them play, but probly all 5000 of those people started bands. That’s way better than playing to 5,000,000 people only five of whom start bands, IMHO. Shit now I want to start a band.)