Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tautologies

A professor once told me that the difference between a writer and someone who wants to become a writer is that a writer writes.

It was an odd day for a class. There was an assignment due which nobody, including myself, had actually bothered with. The professor had walked  in, looked around at the half of us who'd come in on time, asked us to raise hands to see how many of us had actually done the work, blinked, called us a bunch of assholes, and pointed out the room was kinda cramped. We walked across the hallway and then he played us Jacques Brel songs on his guitar for the rest of the class.

From where we were sitting, we could watch late-comers scurry into the old room, look confused, hear the singing and then wander over to where we were. His classes were often like that. He was--and apparently still is--pretty awesome that way. Then he pushed the deadline back a day or two.

He delivered that nugget of advice right after a song about capitalists and greed, and right before he launched into the next, some catchy bit of 60's-cool extremely-French fluff. It was like something out of the Dead Poet's society, one of those cool-professor moments which usually never works out well. Arnie could pull those moments off effortlessly.

Whenever the subject of doing something comes up I always come back to Arnie's tautology. A lot of the universe and how people behave seems to boil down to nonsensically-basic nuggets like that. Writer's write, for example.

You can talk about something all you want, but at the end of the day if you don't buckle down and actually do something, you're not what you're talking about. You're something else, somebody who talks about doing something, which is rather silly on the face of it.

It's easy to do, especially these days. There's a glut of information out there, way too much of it to digest. You can spend all day seeping your gray matter in it until you are saturated with info about whatever you're trying to do, using it as a sort of procrastination. You can, without leaving the comfort of your computer chair, talk with any number of people who are also not actually doing the things they're talking about doing.

It takes you to an odd place eventually. You find yourself with four thousand dollars worth of biking equipment which you wind up using maybe once a month. You know the names of at least a baker's dozen types of yoga, hundreds of postures, have a class membership, but never actually find the time to use them. You have a shelf of writers' books and dozens of blogs bookmarked about writing, but haven't written more than an eighth of your Great American Novel about the ins and outs of the online furry fetishist community.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to getting your ass in the chair and fucking doing what you're talking about. The barrier to entry of acquiring information these days makes it far too easy to procrastinate by telling yourself you're "sharpening your tools" or "acquiring information" or "looking at pictures of naked ladies" or...wait, no that's something else.

You need to go on something like an information diet, say "that's enough" and draw the line somewhere. Does this mean you should completely cut off all sources of information? Fuck no, that's like bringing a spoon to a shovel fight. You just have to realize there's a point where talk becomes talk and just jump in and start doing things.

And now I want to go find Jacques Brel songs. Thanks, random urge to talk about Arnie's Law.

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