Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Maximum Capacity

“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life.
Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”
(The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes 2011)

            Writing a blog has become one of the most enjoyable and easiest parts of my life. For over 5 years, I have published myself, with little effort. Now, as I approach 500 postings, I carry on with the daily, and the weekly, and all roads of time in between. I have made a commitment to myself to try and reach others through my mistakes so that  they may somehow dream from my inspiration.  I have always been a writer. It is second nature for me to spill open the floodgates and relate from my experience. Putting words to my life has never been much of a challenge. It comes naturally to me, all this give and take and expression. The entire process has never been anything but an ease, a complete exercise in pleasure and personal gratification. At this relatively late stage of my life, the conveying of word to pen, then to paper (so to speak) is more than just a reward. It is my salvation, unconditionally cathartic and brings me much peace.
            I first became aware of my inclination back in public school. I may have gotten in trouble for my report on Adolf Hitler but I remember the praise I received from anyone who took the time to notice and actually read the report. I realized rather quickly just how hard it is to kill words once they had been put "out there."  I am not convinced that it was a conscious decision to follow this road. Throughout my formative years and into adulthood, I recognized this innate ability was within me. It was part of me, much like singing has always been. I did not need to sign on some dotted line confirming I am a writer. It just was. I just was. Years of higher learning did nothing but help me hone a pre-existing condition. For all my years of study, I discovered very little to assist in my craft. Structurally, I picked up a few things here and there but generally speaking, I had  already mastered the art.  

"A word is dead when it is said
Some say –
I say it just begins to live
That day."
(A Word is Dead, Emily Dickenson 1862)

            My professional life as a journalist and broadcaster helped to form my writing style but only from the position of application. I realized early on that if I wanted a career in the field, I had to adjust that style to suit each forum. If I wanted to make any real money, I had to adapt to each assignment, conform to each project. It was not okay to be subjective, even if your experience told you differently. Blogging and journalism are different sides of the same keyboard. Like any good blogger would, I had to learn to put my objective biases aside and subjectively deal with the matters before me. This was no newspaper or all news station that I was working for. I am my own editor and have complete control over all content. It did not take many postings for me to realize that blogging had few restrictions. One can do as one pleases and when one pleases. The only deadline we have we assign to ourselves. The only form of censorship is self-censorship. Blogging is not news reporting but it seeks to inform in much the same way. Journalism is swimming in a river while blogging is floating on the ocean.
            I took to the computer almost immediately after my mother died. Having primarily written for news media, it was a challenge at first to dive into blogging. For over a year, I wrote and posted, almost daily. It was a heavy commitment. Each week saw 5-7 blogs placed for all to see.  Each week (depending on the timeframe) was meant to be a tribute to those who had gone before me but that quickly changed. Initially, the beginning blogs were smaller, quicker and desperate for structure and style. The thing about writing is the more you write, the better you are supposed to be at the art. Like exercise, you have to work the muscle for it to function at maximum capacity. The more you apply yourself, the more favourable the outcome. The end result should always be met with your own approval. The words you use define you, regardless of the platform, content and style. It is the expression that should stand out. Unlike with news journalism, the facts are secondary. With blogging, the feelings matter the most.

"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards."
(Robert A. Heinlein, American writer)

            It's not what you write. It's how you write it. There is a conscious shaping which occurs throughout the writing process. We cut and paste, we edit, we scrutinize each word. It is our mission to relay information regardless of the content. We may write for the sheer joy of it. We may write professionally. We may even use the written word to effect change. The platform acts to convey the message in a way that is suitable to our writing style and expression. The type of medium we work within may either limit or expand our process. All writing is the same, the platform is all that varies. Inevitably, we find panache, our expression, a fashion all our own. We follow general structure and guidelines yet in all our work we must reveal (but only what we want to be seen).
            I only have three simple rules I use when writing. I learned them early on from an old school newsman. He taught journalism to first year media students. For the life of me, I can only remember his first name. I was instructed that I should call him Geoff.  I guess I never really used his surname. I am able to remember his three simple  rules (one should follow in writing) but I can't remember his bloody last name. I tried to look him up on the internet but it was a futile act. He probably died years ago.  His lasting effect did not go with him. All the thousands of dollars in tuition, and years of study, and it is the most basic course that left the lasting impression. Geoff set the standard for me. Had I left higher learning at the point I knew him, I would still be in the same place. These guidelines are a foundation that I try to follow.

1. Keep it simple, stupid
2. When in doubt, don't
3. It's all in the details

            All good things come to an end. It pretty much works for the bad things in that same way. Everything ends and we are left to begin all over again. Sometimes circumstance is the cause of the destruction. Often, random influences are an agent of futility. Sometimes things just are and there is nothing we can do about it. In  juxtaposition to the cause, we ignore the path we are supposed to follow. We end things hoping for renewal and not caring about consequence. In the end, there is nothing but to end. I say leave them wanting more. Moving on may be the very best option. It is by acknowledging that we have crossed the dotted line that we discover with every end comes a new beginning. In fact, more than not, to end is a good thing, the right thing, exactly how it is supposed to be. It's time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.
            I starting blogging with 'Borrowed Knowledge.' For over a year, I tried to publish each weekday. I grew exhausted and closed it with great relief. When I began posting 'Surviving God,' every Tuesday, for year after year, the effort bore much fruit. I had no idea the depth it would reach for and the commitment it would need. Like all good things this too must end. I am in no way abandoning the medium. I simply wish to focus less on one topic/theme and relate more generally speaking. I grow tired and restless of the same old centre and wish to more fully express myself. Rather than having the thesis of each blog somehow tie in with what it means to survive God, I can approach without any intellectual limitations from a point well taken.  I will conclude this blog with a final prologue, consisting of several individual blogs. Once all is said and done, I will introduce the new blog, one more suitable to my expectations. It is my hope that the reinvention will grant me maximum capacity.

"I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all." (American Hunger, Richard Wright 1977)