Saturday, August 8, 2009

hello my name is thorn

my new vacation home

There's a passage in William Zinsser's book On Writing Well that encourages the writer to abandon the idea of being the best. I would directly quote the paragraph, but I had to give the book back to the library before incurring large fines. I'm trying something new where I actually adhere to due dates instead of assuming some far-off date and then being unable to put books on hold because I owe the library a small fortune.

Basically, Zinsser emphasizes the reality that there will always be someone out there who is better than you, so you can't get stuck on the idea of being best or you will never start whatever it is you want to be supreme ruler of. (look at that preposition left to fend for itself) I have a severe case of bestitis with a long list of comorbid conditions, such as negativitis, procrastinationitis, insecuritis, aloofitis. I'm here to tell you the combination is truly paralyzing. As many of you have noticed, my blog posting has slowed to a trickle. We're talking desert cactus proportions here. And do you know why? No, it's not because I've devoted my spare time to feeding the elderly or revitalizing parks. I'm stewing in a decoction of neuroses, turning up the burner by reading other blogs (or magazines or books or newspaper articles) that I deem far superior to anything I could ever produce.

Even as I type this, I'm thinking, "okay, how can I make this the best pathetic post ever."

Pursuing the best is making me a very stagnant person. I can't make decisions because I want to make the best one. I can't write posts because I know they won't be the best in the cloud. I can't post pictures to flickr because they're not in the best (i.e. retouched) condition yet. I can't decide on the best career path. I can't I can't I can't.

Enough with the bullshit. Or rather, the best shit. I don't let bestness get in the way of certain things, like swimming or running or cooking. Just the other day I had a horrible workout at the YMCA. It felt like I was trying to swim through molasses with limbs made of terry cloth. But I slogged from one end of my lane to the other, intent on reaching a goal of 25 minutes, and I left knowing that I would look forward to the next time. What's the difference between swimming and writing? Why can't I write a mediocre post, click publish and try again next time? There is no good reason to put writing (among other things) on the once-chance-to-get-this-right pedestal.

So, welcome to the recreational lane of blogging, where I attempt to doggy paddle and flutter kick my way from one end of the screen to the other. Goggles not required.

the wrap around

*the sand castle picture is from a contest that I stumbled upon last weekend at Rehobeth Beach

5 comments:

Steve said...

Wow, that dude has a TAN.

I don't think I ever even entertained the thought of being the best -- perhaps because I know it's so far from reality -- and hence, no pressure. Of course, the flip side is that sometimes I don't try very hard and write a crappy entry. Where, oh where, is the in-between space?

Desembarazarme said...

Funny enough, I have the same ailment (who infected whom?), but I kinda strive to write as well as you do. We'll never be pleased, will we? And it's even worse when it comes to my envy and competitiveness with the intern at yoga (yes, I'm competitive in yoga).

And I <3 Zinsser and that book. It was a textbook I didn't sell back after a writers' workshop course.

Dave and Jo said...

Now I thought the sandcastle was a very profound photographic link to the blog post's message....maybe I'm reading too deep, but for me perfection is an illusion, and the tomatoes are always riper in your neighbors garden...whether those are the proverbial tomatoes of your friends who are harvesting wild organic blueberries in Maine, your wife who is an exceptionally talented writer, or your friends who are living in gorgeous Brooklyn...

Dave and Jo said...

Now I thought the sandcastle was a very profound photographic link to the blog post's message....maybe I'm reading too deep, but for me perfection is an illusion, and the tomatoes are always riper in your neighbors garden...whether those are the proverbial tomatoes of your friends who are harvesting wild organic blueberries in Maine, your wife who is an exceptionally talented writer, or your friends who are living in gorgeous Brooklyn...

Rebecca said...

I really like and identify with this post. Also, I haven't seen you in like months.