Today I wanted to reflect on my writing a tiny bit, since I see it as part of this project of virtue that I am trying to engage in, even as it is simultaneously seeking to describe that same project.
I didn’t originally plan for this blog to focus on virtue, though so far that has definitely been the central theme for most of my posts. The goal, rather, was discovery.
I wanted to learn what I would write about when I gave myself permission to write about anything, in a space where anyone could look in, and built up a habit of writing (twice a week so far, though the frequency might change in the future, either to more often or to slightly less often).
It didn’t go quite as planned. I turned on the tap, but before the ideas could start flowing freely, there was some material which had clogged up the end of the pipe which needed to come out first.
I had a backlog of ideas for things that I once wanted to write, or that I wanted to want to write.
They weren’t necessarily written down, or if they were, it wasn’t because they were written down that I had to write them up.
Rather, it was that they were somehow hanging over me mentally. When I thought about writing something, they were the first thing that came to mind, even if they were the things that I actually am interested in writing about, and I somehow couldn’t write anything else until I had given them voice.
So I turned on the faucet and watched at first as sediment came out, and continued to watch as the outflowing began to seem more pure and clear.
That’s not to say that the earlier writings were worse than the later, or less true to me, or anything like that. I was still the one writing them and finding the words to express them.
Rather, what I mean is that with reference to the goal of discovering how I write and what I want to write about, my own sense is that the later writings are more helpful to me.
After the first few months of writing this blog, then, I look back and find that it has been helpful for two things, one expected and intended, and the other a surprise.
What has fulfilled (and exceeded!) my expectations is the way that blogging has helped me see what I am interested to write about. I know that much of what I write is pretty unpolished and artless, given that as a stay at home dad with a number of hobbies these entries are often pretty rushed and poorly thought through. Still, it’s helped clarify for me what I am able to write about with confidence and with some competence. It is also helpful for showing me the gaps in between the things I’ve gravitated toward writing about, areas for further elaboration and exploration.
The unexpected benefit is the one I have spent most of this entry reflecting on: the clearing out of expectations and plans and assumptions which were more of an obstacle to my goals as a writer, even though they were accumulated over the course of years spent thinking about the desire to write.
I have no particular plans for the future of this blog, but I have a couple guesses about where it might go.
For the time being, I’ll keep writing whatever comes into my head to write, seeking to sustain and strengthen my writing habit, and in the process build up a body of writing for which I might someday find a use.
In the meantime I will wait for motivation to strike, and then at that point I’ll probably move in one of a couple directions.
I might try to look back through old posts and consciously try to fill in ambiguities and form the connections between different thoughts to make these writings more coherent and full.
Or I may try to bend my output toward some specific goal. I might pick a theme or an author or a question and begin focusing on that with the goal of bringing it together into a single directed piece of writing.
But it’s also possible that neither development will happen anytime soon and that’s okay with me too. For the foreseeable future, just keeping the habit going instead of letting it lapse is all the success I need. As long as the habit exists, the possibilities of where it could go are practically limitless.