May 27, 2014

9 Months later: what's up with that?

I haven't written anything for this blog for nine months. And I haven't written much else during that time. Maybe some emails. A few things for a course on memoir that I took. Time to get going again? I hope so, because I like writing. But I hate it, too.

Maybe hate is too strong a word. Maybe it's just frustrating because I suffer from could-be-betteritis. Could-be-betteritis is a disease characterized by the belief that whatever one does, it could be better. Duh. Of course it could be better. And by itself could-be-betteritis is not a problem. But when coupled with other conditions, it turns deadly.

For example: this. What I just wrote. What I am writing, now. It could be better. Of course. It could also be finished. But it won't be finished if keep making it better, which is what I'm doing, even as I'm writing this. 

I go back and change a word. The version that I had just a minute ago described 'should-be-better-itis' as the name of the accompanying condition that turns it deadly. But that's not it. It's not that it should be better. I'm beyond that particular 'should.' 

And it is getting better. If you could see this as it's evolving on the page you'd agree. More to the point, I look back, and I agree: I've made it better. I've also made it longer, more complete, so better in that way. So where's the problem?

There are two problems. Or at least two. The first: I don't seem to be able to say "it's good enough." It's good, but it's not good enough. And what's good enough?

According to memory someone asked Henry Ford III, "How much money is enough money?" His answer: "Just a little bit more." So what's good enough? "Just a little bit better."

The second problem is that there comes a time when I can't tell whether I'm making it better or I'm just making it different. And I don't seem to care. I just keep working on it, revising it, until all the energy is gone. Most things that I start to write eventually find themselves in the purgatory of drafts. There they wait. If they were living beings they might hope to ascend to publication. If so, they hope in vain.

But they don't find themselves in purgatory, do they? I put them there. And that's not a nice thing to do. I'm not nice to my writing. 

Take this guy, right here, the one that I am writing. Its purpose was to express some ideas about my writing. And it's done that. And its purpose was to be published. Or that was my original purpose for it. Now a new purpose has become dominant: it's "to be better than it is." Impossible, of course. So let's get back to the original purpose: to be published.

So, little blog post, you're not going to blog draft purgatory. You're not going to be much better than you are right now. You're going to be published.