Tag Archives: writing

Diaries

I told myself, and I wrote here, that I was going to blog more, about a month ago, and nothing much has come of it. For a while now I’ve been trying to write five hundred words each day, which sometimes is fiction and sometimes essays which end up as blog posts, either here or on mikelynch.org, but which is mostly a diary.

There have been other times when I’ve been going through troubles that I’ve written regularly. After a spell of frantic and introspective journal-keeping after getting divorced in 2003, I went off it, because it didn’t seem to help with my depression and in some ways made it worse. I felt like I was just rolling around in my problems and not doing anything about them. The ritual of putting pen to paper was comforting, but the actual writing wasn’t amounting to anything, and it meant that the most creative activity which I did was also concentrating on all the reasons why I was sad. I’ve still got an envelope somewhere containing a thick wad of foolscap which I sealed away when I decided to stop keeping that journal. I haven’t ever been tempted to open it.

My daily writing now has felt more productive, even if it’s not that much more worth reading. Every now I’ll go back over it — the fact that I’m doing it on a laptop rather than a notepad makes this easier — and it’s sometimes embarrassing to see me write down the same insight, something I’ve figured out in therapy or while running that struck me as particularly helpful or wise, months apart, often using almost the same words, with no self-awareness that I’d already been over that ground. Maybe the lesson here is that keeping a diary is more useful if one re-reads it, so that things don’t get lost.

There’s another reason for this kind of delayed stutter, and that’s fear. Mostly, the repetitions I’m thinking of are writing about, or writing around, something which I need to tell someone or do with someone, and which I’m afraid of. Writing about it is, in a way, a delaying tactic. Instead of getting up the courage to have a difficult conversation, I can write five hundred words about it. It is a useful way to put my thoughts in order, but it’s also a sop: I get the satisfaction of having done something, and ticked off a daily self-care task, without the danger of actually doing the thing which I’m afraid of doing.

I do, eventually, mostly, get around to doing these things, and I shouldn’t be hard on myself about the slow and repetitive nature of the process. There’s far more repetition in my head, where I worry about these things and have imaginary versions of the conversations which I’m delaying. By turning them into something that’s a little more concrete — even if it’s the evanescent form of a text file on a laptop — I make them more real, something I’m less likely, even if only marginally, to forget about or put off.

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Materiality: FAKE

DD4_layersI’ve got two short articles in MATERIALITY: FAKE, now online at Pinknantucket Press:

An uncanny valley in reverse is a brief illustrated attempt to explain the computational underpinning of deepdreams for a lay audience.

Vermiculation, on the use of fake rustic textures in classical architecture and its colonial domestic descendants.

Mindlessness

She was tall and fresh, with dark, young, expressionless eyes, and well-drawn brows, and the immature softness and mindlessness of the sensuous Celtic type.

I propose a literary parlour game: for an author you dislike, find a sentence that most economically exhibits the qualities for which you dislike them. The game takes its title from the above passage from D. H. Lawrence’s “Samson and Delilah”, the presence of which only slightly mars NYRB Classic’s edition of Randall Jarrell’s Book of StoriesThe passage seems to me to epitomise Lawrence’s worst qualities – stylistic clumsiness, judgemental pomposity, and a tendency to erupt into nineteenth-century race nonsense at the slightest provocation.

Geek Mook

Geek Mook!

Geek Mook was launched last Friday – it’s an anthology of stories, articles and artwork, including my short piece on code comments as a literary genre.