During October I thought that when I finished my book, I’d be chock-full-o’ blog posts. After all, when you get to the end of a long-term project, it makes you reflective. It’s like a New Year’s moment—you look back on what you’ve accomplished and see what it teaches you for the future. But I was wrong. I’m not full of posts. In fact, the opposite’s been true. Without the security of known work, I end up fidgety, distracting myself with 100 different ideas but settling on none.
One day I looked up a few Daily Show episodes on YouTube and ended up getting a liberal-political education, learning for the first time who Keith Olbermann was (a self-styled Edward R. Murrow-type commentator) and seeing too much of Bill O’Reilly, whose name I’d heard but never actually listened to before—not many people depend on the power of volume as he does. It sucked up an entire day, this continual video-linking. I spent the whole time simply absorbing, like an alien who’s wondering what all these human beings are up to.
Another day, I watched Richard Dawkins’ BBC4 2-part documentary, “The Root of All Evil?”, which takes pointed, if imprecise, aim at how religious thinking harms rational political dialogue and society. I found myself surprised by how openly he spoke of the dangers of religion—all the three main monotheistic ones, mind you—and then wondered why I was surprised. After centuries of religious leaders speaking openly of the dangers of secular thinking (and occasionally burning people for it), it’s long overdue. Dawkins isn’t the best when it comes to getting his point across, but he does make an effort. The documentary then led me to peruse the Richard Dawkins Foundation and other secular humanist sites.
I bring this up not to convince anyone of the fallacy of religiously inspired thought, but to point out that, very quickly, this endeavor had sucked up another entire day.
Of course, there’s been television. I make no secret of my admiration for some recent shows, and new ones have been added to the roster of must-sees. Prison Break, some old seasons of Spooks/MI5, very old episodes of The Sandbaggers, and those mainstays, Battlestar Galactica and Lost. Last night I watched my very first episode of The Wire, and have a feeling that this will be devouring an enormous amount of time in the coming weeks.
Which isn’t to say I haven’t been working as well. I’ve maintained my overall anti-social lifestyle, which actually leaves me time for writing. I’m working on an espionage screenplay, using the main character who will be in the spy novel that will come next. The work’s been slow going, because despite having written 3 screenplays in the last few years, the fact is that none of them have been up to par. A couple film agents have looked at them and sent them back, unimpressed. So I know that whatever I was doing before wasn’t right, and I have to move slowly through this, methodically, so that each page is more cinematic than literary (which, I think, was part of my original problem).
Put these things together, and at the end of each day, I’m completely exhausted. The worst thing is that I don’t have the attention span to sit down and simply read, because I’m overcome with the feeling I’m not working enough, and time is slipping away from me. It’s a kind of panic, a kind of awareness of mortality. It also detracts from my ability to focus thought long enough to come up with a tenable blog post. Which is why, today, you’ve been stuck reading this wandering non-narrative.
But I’ll get over it soon. “Work” is the one thing that, over the past five years, I’ve been able to depend on to keep my head screwed on right. With time, it eases the pains of doubt and the mania of indirection. It helps everything make sense again.
It should, and I hope soon, help me write a post that makes a little more sense…
(Originally posted at the Contemporary Nomad)