I haven’t made the time this year for goal setting. Not personal goal setting anyway – work requires it, so I’ve already turned those in. But there are certain goals floating around in my head, just waiting for the right precipitate so they can coalesce.
One of the things I’ve neglected in the long creative drought that ensued following Arizonageddon at the end of 2010 is my writing. I didn’t have a single thing published in 2011. I barely touched the blog. I failed at NaNoWriMo (though I was moving into a new house, so perhaps that’s a valid excuse.) It was a good year in some respects, but a bad year for getting personal agendas accomplished.
2012 is going to be better, because it simply has to be. If I’m a writer (which the preponderance of evidence suggests that I may very well be) then I have to, in fact, write.
I came across some interesting quotes from Hemingway today. On writing, he says,
First, there must be talent, much talent. Talent such as Kipling had. Then there must be discipline. The discipline of Flaubert. Then there must be the conception of what it can be and an absolute conscience as unchanging as the standard meter in Paris, to prevent faking. Then the writer must be intelligent and disinterested and above all he must survive. Try to get all these things in one person and have him come through all the influences that press on a writer. The hardest thing, because time is so short, is for him to survive and get his work done.
And that’s not enough. Hemingway identifies the silver bullet:
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.
Now, working backwards, I can state with confidence that I have a built-in, shockproof shit detector. Surviving, per se, is less of strong suit for me, but it’s within the realm of possibility. Intelligence isn’t really a problem (for all that it’s worth) but disinterest likely is. Who creates art because they’re disinterested? We’re all compensating for some insufficiency, perceived or actual. We want the validation of not only our loved ones, but total strangers. If possible, we want the validation of a paying audience. Surely, if someone is willing to put down hard-earned cash for the work of our pen, it must be worth something.
As for conscience? I have one, but it’s never served me particularly well as a writer. It tends, more often than not, to vomit up moralistic tripe as I’m attempting to work and therefore just gets in the way.
Discipline? I know the meaning of that word about as well as I could name the works of Flaubert himself (Which is to say not at all. Wasn’t he some sort of impressionist? I’m so poorly-cultured.)
Talent? Yes, I think I can say so without engaging in embellishment, though for what it’s worth, it’s a rather unrefined talent. And it’s all the worse for wear due to the lack of any sort of exercise in the last couple of years. The writing muscle is no different than a bicep or a quadricep. It get gets flabby and unsightly if it’s never used. Let’s face it – Twitter killed the blogio-star. Micro-blogging has been the death of a lot of longer-form writing from undiscovered or otherwise unappreciated talent. It’s easier, it’s lazier, and it gets the endorphins pumping just the same. (For heaven’s sake, I have a higher Klout score than the CEO of Klout, whatever that means.)
The point of all of this is that I need to hone in and get back to basics. To that end, a 2012 goal for me, as a writer, is to write something every day. I can’t overstate how simple this sounds and how difficult it is. I have five kids and a fairly demanding day job. I am burned out. But I also am suffering from the deep dissatisfaction that comes with not creating, not doing the things that are at your core. Writers write not necessarily because they want to, but because they have to. And I’ve managed to tune that out.
So watch this space. I won’t only be writing here – I have some stories and personal items to work on – but writing every day this year is only going to happen if I have an outlet. And even if it’s only a few sentences, a paragraph or two, something is better than nothing. Of course, I’ve been known to make pie crust promises on this topic before. I highly recommend that you don’t trust me on this.
I’m sure there’s an applicable Japanese sword proverb or something about constantly perfecting or slicing cleanly through bone or some such, but I don’t have time to Google one. My kids are calling, and I need to read them a bedtime story.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.