I don’t usually announce (or even pick) a New Years Resolution, but this year I came up with one that suits me well. While most people choose to do something (and let’s be honest — it’s usually an attempt to work out more), I will be restricting myself from doing something. What’s the something? Writing really long posts on this blog. It’s not that I intend to write less; it’s that I want to redirect my efforts into different types of writing — namely essays and short stories. And since I’m working full time right now, I only have so much time and mental energy for this sort of thing.
I’ll probably being much as I did before, but only the shorter work will appear here. In other words, any time an article goes beyond 600 words, I’ll post it as an essay on Supraterranean or attempt to publish it elsewhere. That’ll make this more of a blog and less of a column (currently most posts run around 1,000-1,400 words!).
Part of why I’m in a proactive mood is because I saw Hugh MacLeod’s online preview for his book Ignore Everybody in today’s Daily Rumpus email from Stephen Elliott. The book’s (more explanatory) subtitle is, “And 39 Other Keys to Creativity” — so it seems to be less a celebration of the solitary life than a modern guide to the creative life. I wasn’t familiar with MacLeod before, but I’m suddenly a fan of both his wisdom and his business card sketches (he explains those at the link). Just to list a few points:
- “Good ideas come with a heavy burden. Which is why so few people have them. So few people can handle it.”
- “The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.”
- “Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort, and stamina.”
- “I would find that extra hour or two in the day that belongs to nobody else but me, and I would make it productive. Put the hours in, do it for long enough and magical, life-transforming things happen eventually. Sure, that means less time watching TV, internet surfing, going out or whatever.”
- “Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain.”
- “The price of being a sheep is BOREDOM. The price of being a wolf is LONELINESS. Choose one or the other with great care.”
It only gets better, but I’m nearing my 600-word limit, so you’ll have to read it yourself. MacLeod definitely has a way of putting this kind of thing into perspective with clarity and brevity. A lot of it reminds me of the creative “lone wolves” that I incessantly yap about on here, most notably Henry Miller (and also Camus’s work The Myth of Sisyphus). MacLeod’s sketches are great as well. It’s a less chaotic take on Ralph Steadman’s style, and some of the squiggly blobs are a much more skilled version of my own random notebook doodles during past classes.
I don’t know if I’ll buy the book though. MacLeod claims that his website offers “the first 25%” of the text (yay for alternative publishing models!), but the available selection doesn’t seem very long — at least, not a quarter of a book. Anyway, have a look at his website and let me know what you think. That’s the other part of this New Year’s deal: I’d really like to see more comments on here, to let me know that you’re involved.