A few weeks back I noted the ending of one of my projects: the Random-Quote-of-the-Day blog and random quote of the day itself. This was due to its nature of consuming too much of my time and, like the ending of most relationships, I just didn't feel the passion anymore. Well, I am here to announce the resurrection of that project.
Now, before all two readers of this blog get upset and begin to call me a hypocrite and begin to say that I'm reneging on my word... or before they begin to genuflect in front of their keyboards and laptops to my reversal of thought and resurrection of my digital innovation and brilliance (Hey, if a man can't fantasize in an insanely self-aggrandizing fashion on his blog, where can he?), this will be a modified project.
Some certain events have recently transpired which led me to realize that a few of the quotes I had accumulated but not used, were very apropos given recent situations. I decided that instead of announcing to the world my problems and travails, it would be easier to take the higher road and also to take the more positive/cryptic road by posting motivational and inspiring quotes for myself to use. It has worked. I also realized that although I enjoyed the extra time by no longer holding myself captive to my rigid structure for finding the quotes and then photos, songs, or film clips that corresponded to the chosen quote of the day, I also missed to a certain extent quoting an inspirational or ridiculous phrase. That said, I do not want this endeavor to become a time suck.
Therefore, I announce a resurrection of the blog with a few amendments:
-- I will not be posting one every day. I may sometimes go a week without posting something.
-- I will no longer accompany each quote with a song, photo, or film clip, unless that quote comes from a song or a film and I am able to find the clip without much fuss.
That's really it for the amendments.
As always, thank you and enjoy.
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Judging by the title, I'm sure you can figure out that this entry is about a parting about a goodbye of some sorts. And I would call you correct, and give you $100 for saying so... but I don't have that money, so I'm not going to give it away.
In my last post, I mentioned this blog is dedicated to my writing life and the writing life in general. The writing life, however, can be expanded to cover the creative life. And so it is with a relieved heart and mind that I am here to bid adieu to one of my own creative projects: the random-quote-of-the-day blog.
I began the random-quote-of-the-day website at the end of November of 2009 during a period of personal re-evaluation and reclamation. I had come to the realization a few months prior that I had a very difficult time starting and sustaining a project. In my undergrad days, outside of my room was a cork board. I began to post quotes that I found interesting or ridiculous. If friends drunkenly screamed something the night before that I found especially amusing, it made the list. I would usually have a couple of quotes posted on the board and replace them every two or three days or so. One day, while changing a quote, a group of students stopped and waited to see what it was I was posting. I looked at them strangely, and they said they were waiting to see what today's was, and that they routinely would read what was on there. I had walked by a couple of people reading the board a few times as I walked back to my room. It was at this moment that I realized that a small gesture, if done often enough, becomes noticeable and can change others' viewpoints, if just momentarily. Even if you don't intend it to, something you produce can influence and inspire someone else. When I realized that I had not sustained a project for a long, long time, I decided to start the quote of the day again, as it gave me pleasure in undergrad, and it also spoke to other people unwittingly.
For years I have collected quotes or passages from books and lyrics from certain songs that I find particularly poignant, moving, or silly. When I began the project I had a certain buildup of quotes to choose from, and every so often, depending on the topic I was thinking about at the time (forgiveness, motivation, life, running, writing, love) I would stockpile some more quotes. As part of this endeavor, I wanted to do more than just posting a simple line. I wanted to find a song or a scene from a film, or an inspiring picture or something that would connect to the quote itself. (For examples, take a look at the site itself: random-quote-of-the-day.blogspot.com
As I have become more invested in creating the site, I have tried to never reproduce the same quote (that I have not done), and I have also tried to not reuse any of the same corresponding materials: songs, scene clips, photos, images, etc., regardless of their appropriate connection to the quote at hand.
Producing the quote made me feel like I was producing something, it made me feel I was sustaining a project. And I became borderline obsessed in ensuring that I never missed a day. (I believe since late November I have missed maybe 6 days total.) In February I began to wonder how long should I sustain this, because producing a different one daily for an indeterminate amount of time I imagined would get tedious and would lose its appeal. I decided to stop when I knew it was time, when it felt right. This lack of specificity, this lack of deadline did not feel right to me; I needed a deadline; I needed a date. I decided upon a year: that seemed like a good round number in which to dedicate oneself to a project; I would continue with the quote of the day until November of 2010. I decided upon a specific deadline as my reasoning was that if I stopped with the project at an arbitrary day, then I would just prove the point I was trying to disprove by creating and daily updating the site: namely, that I couldn't sustain a project.
However, as time wore on, the project began to wear on me. I had proven to myself that I could sustain a project. Much of the mindset and personal malaise I was feeling at the time of the onset of the website had left; I had begun to reclaim and even establish a sense of self; I had an invigorated sense of confidence I had never had before, partially as a result of dedicating myself daily to something but also due to many other personal factors. I began to see the quote as a burden.
I have felt for about a month or so now that the random-quote-of-the-day blog has run its course, and yet, like a codependent relationship, I have continued to plug away at something I feel no passion towards, just an arbitrary and self-perpetuated sense of obligation.
As such, as mentioned above, it is with a sense of relief and shed burdens that I announce that today's quote-of-the-day installment (September 23, 2010) will be the last one posted on the blog. I may occasionally post an thoughtful, inspiring, or Muppetational line on my Facebook page, but it will not be the daily foray and requirement I have deemed it. For those who have obtained any form of comfort, inspiration, or altering of thoughts because of something I have posted, I am very touched and grateful that I was able to contribute to someone else's well-being. However, it is just time to end.
I will do something, I also thought I would not do, and for the first time, merge the two sites I maintain, posting what I had planned months ago as being the final quote on this blog entry. I will also post this entry on the quote of the day blog as well.
As always, thanks.
These, then, are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create that fact. – William James, Is Life Worth Living
Say We'll Meet Again - Lindsey Buckingham
Just say we?ll meet again
When the sunset spell is gone in the wind
Please say we?ll meet againEveryone sees a tear in the seam
But talks about the weather
Everyone pays a price for these dreams
So why not dream these dreams together
Just say we?ll meet again
When the sunset spell is gone in the wind
Please say we?ll meet again
That was a dream, that was a time
But nothing lasts forever
Sooner or later we all must go blind
But we can dream these dreams together
Just say we?ll meet again
When the sunset spell is gone in the wind
Please say we?ll meet again
For a long time I have wanted to write an essay regarding what goes on through one's head while they are running. The structure of the essay would mirror the patterns of one's thoughts while running: in other words, the essay would be as scattered, fragmented, and stream-of-conscious as the thoughts that pass through one's head during a normal day.
I have also for a while now wanted to write a long experimental essay that would take place over the course of time, in which individuals would be free to jump in at any point, an essay that would take into account the concept of time and participation, in which the ending was not written as people are reading it, as it is published. A serial experimental essay. I realized the running essay would be the perfect venue for this type of structure and real-time experiment.
Given the recent passing of David Markson, and how his distinctive latter-day style was equally fragmented, seemingly arbitrary, and random
as the firing of synapses in our brains, it seems fitting that I start this now. This essay will be an ode to Markson and will include many of the thoughts that flow through my own head while running. It will be self-reflexive, random, arbitrary; it will include longer sections of research concerning the physiological changes that happens while we run, what chemicals our body releases and how it affects our muscles and our moods; it will contain many grammatical errors as I will be publishing it in real-time. (I will go back and edit each entry, and possibly rearrange the order of each section.) It will also make no sense to anyone who happens to read just one sentence every so often, which, I suppose, is also part of the intent.
Overall, the intent of the essay is to show how running and writing are inter-related, to explore their reciprocal, symbiotic relationship: how the activities themselves resemble the stream-of-consciousness style, and how the two can best be described and experienced only during the actual doing of the activity. Both are performed, for the most part, in solitude. (Even with the inclusion of runner's groups or a running partner, or the invention of writers groups, running and writing are ultimately a solitary activities.) A writer is happiest when he is writing, not when the product is finished. A runner is happiest when he is running, not when he sees his time and distance after the run.
Also, in an effort at maintaining another continuous project, I will attempt to include at least one new section per day, even if that section is one random sentence. This introduction does not count as a section of the essay.
I hope you all enjoy this project. As always, any feedback is well-appreciated.
A friend texted me recently, asking, "Have you ever written something and say 'Wow! That's cool'"
I responded, "Yes, I have. 95% of what I write is junk or average. But that other 5% is why I keep writing."
The percentage of these moments compared to the amount of time spent writing is drastically small (as noted in my response to my friend), but these are the moments that make us continue to write, paint, create music, sculpt, act, whatever our creative outlets happen to be.
This exchange made me wonder about the best writing moments I have had. Some of these did not result in my best work, those perfectly crystalline phrases that make you want to scream, "Hey Everybody!! I just wrote an amazing line. Everyone needs to read this! Or listen to me read them the line," causing you to then run downstairs to find your spouse or significant other and tell them the line, but then remember that they just had a hard day at work and are sitting on the sofa wrist-deep in a carton of ice cream so you move on to your kids, but they'll just look at you as if you had three heads, and the context of the brilliant line might not be appropriate for them, or maybe they're not around, off playing with their friends, or at dance or band practice, or off with their own significant others and so you run outside, run up the street stumbling across pedestrians, mailmen, dogs, and you try to read them the line, looking for affirmation of your brilliance, but they also probably don't understand the import of what you wrote, and at this point your focus has shifted to finding people and not on the words themselves but you need to tell someone so you decide upon the only place where people would appreciate this: the library! And you sprint into the library only to find that they don't like screaming in there, so you might as well go back to your typewriter, sheaf of paper, computer and continue writing.
Those types of lines were not created in these greatest writing moments. Instead these are the moments of creativity where you feel this is what you should be doing, where you immerse yourself into the flow of creativity, when your mind and will merge into one intention: to create. They are also not in any discernible order.
1. During my senior year of undergrad, I was taking two courses--Sports in Literature, Children's/Young Adult Literature--with the same professor. The final paper for each class required us to write a story within each genre. I asked if I could consolidate the assignments and write one story for both classes.
On a Friday night, both my roommates away for the weekend, I stayed in and decided to write the paper. I lay on my bed tossing a ball in the air, each errant throw bouncing off the wall, sometimes falling behind the bed as I lunged, missing the catch, juggling ideas for how to write a story that could fit within the sports literature and the adolescent literature genres, and make it something I would enjoy writing. Then I had it!
I wrote for four hours straight on my electronic word processor: it allowed 6500 character spaces before the draft had to be printed and deleted. I printed out nearly five pages of single-spaced brilliance (everything you write between the ages 0f 18 and 21 is brilliant!) and continued with the story. About an hour later I stopped writing mid-sentence, stumped on one word, the perfect word for that thought, that sentence. I took advantage of this momentary mental respite to make dinner. While I stirred the boiling water, the word came to me. I went to my room and continued typing until I remembered the boiling water on the stove. What had been a full pot of boiling water was now less than an inch, smoke evaporating into the stove lights. I turned the water off and finished the story.
I submitted this as a first and only draft. About a week later, I saw my professor. He asked me why I did not submit this story for the campus-wide writing contest. The deadline for the contest had already passed before I wrote the story, I told him. "I was the primary judge for that contest. This would have won hands down." "I didn't know that," I said. "And the deadline had already gone by." "I would have allowed it." "Oh. Thank you. I didn't know."
I have since revisited this piece and had it reviewed at a workshop a few years back. I will one day revisit it again, incorporating some of the suggestions made in that workshop. However much this story may improve, the finished version will not match the flurry of creativity I felt that Friday night in my apartment when I wrote the first draft.
2. About a year ago I was sitting in my apartment and realized I needed to get out of the house and write. My environment was becoming distracting. Each time I would start writing I would look to my right at the books on my bookshelf that needed to be read; I would minimize my word document and check my email accounts obsessively; I would internally lament that of the 800+ CDs I had on the left wall, none seemed to provide the proper writing soundtrack. I needed to manufacture accountability, and my comforts and hobbies were trapping me, preventing me from being accountable to my writing and myself.
I went to the library. I was working on a story in which one of the plots regards the nature of luck and superstition. Specifically, I was working on a scene where the main character, after purchasing what he hopes will be a couple of bags of lucky marbles at a toy store as a boy, gives up on all superstition and lucky trinkets and baubles. I found a table upstairs and began writing. Upon finishing the scene, I looked to the bookshelves to my left. There on the metal shelves stood books on toys, crafts, hobbies, games, including a few on marbles. I hadn't noticed them when I entered the room: I had just seen an empty table in a quiet section of the library. Subconsciously, I must have noticed and my surroundings made their way into my story.
3. A month after the serendipitous marble scene, I went to New York City for a few days for research. I needed to roam the streets of the city for a novella that took place here.
I went to the New York Public Library, one of the favorite places on all of the planet. (The reasoning for my love of the NYPL will be a future post: if I listed my reasons now it would detract from this post.) I found one of the open study rooms. Surrounded by walls of old law books, ceiling painted like a Sistine Chapel, I plugged in my laptop and began writing. With scores of students, teachers, researchers, tour groups milling about, poring over books and laptops I found an accountability in my anonymity. If any of these people did not see me writing, then why was I here? Over the course of a few days, I created a scene in the novella that has since required very little revision, a defining moment in the description of a character, where the character's grip on her piety and faith is so tight and unyielding it threatens to undermine and destroy all her other relationships.
The novella has a little ways to go before it's complete, but at that moment in the NYPL something clicked within me in the writing of that one scene.
I have had other "Eureka!" moments in writing but these are the ones that particularly stand out. Without this inspiration, the finished product will never have a chance of becoming reality.
Now that I have shared some of my greatest moments of writing inspiration, I throw this question out to you: what have been some of your greatest writing or creative moments? You don't need to be a writer. You could be a cook, a painter, a graphic designer, a maker of scrapbooks, seamstress, horse rider, baseball player, geologist. Feel free to share.