On showing your work

09 April 2016

Growing up, writing was never difficult for me. It was entertainment and refuge both, and it came easily. Maybe sometimes too easily. It was a vastly preferable alternative to many other activities, such as, well, mostly anything else.

As a grown-up, writing takes energy and discipline. At least, it does to keep it interesting to me. My needs in terms of entertainment and refuge have grown along with me, and added to their tribe other needs like problem-solving, expression and communication. Now, I have to work at it. I have to make time and exercise the muscles, and keep doing it, or I too easily lose it.

As an entire industry of fitness tracking is eager to tell you, the best way to create an urgency of discipline is to practice it in public. Which is why, dear reader, I first began flinging these missives at you. I enjoy writing, yes. But I also want to get better at it. I have things to say that outreach my abilities. Some days, this space that I’ve created is a wonderful receptacle, where I effortlessly place all the thoughts that have bubbled up, seemingly of their own accord. And other days, it feels very much like I’m a kid again, in front of the chalkboard trying to work out a math problem without knowing what I was doing and with an entire, unsympathetic audience behind me.

Years ago, I would have found some way of avoiding solving the problem. After a year and a half of regular essays in this newsletter, I’ve run out of all the easy ideas and my muscles are stretched and sore. It’s good, it’s growth. But it’s not always riveting reading.

Some days, I’ll deliver to you words clear and bright and strong, and some days you’ll get some messy, half-worked long division. I hope that you know that the fact I still offer it, as is, honestly, tells you something important, and that that something is the thing I’m still working on understanding how to say.

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