Good morning. A major goal of mine this year is to publish much more here. I am working on some longer-form content, both fiction and non-fiction, that I think you will like, but I am certain that I’m delaying too much and it’s burning me up.
I want to get content in your hands. I feel like I owe you for your expressions of enjoyment and support, and for every week that passes without pushing publish, I feel like I am letting you down. I take this very seriously.
Moreover I am bottled up. I am over-thinking things. After the success (if I can say so) of my first few pieces, especially my fiction, I’ve been building the next thing up too much. I have been a life-long reader but in many ways I am a new fiction writer. In order to get to the next stage of my development as a writer in terms of where I want to be, both in endurance and sophistication, I need to put the reps in. Rather than sit down and write a novel and be absent for a year, I’m going to push volume, OK? Lots of short little posts. 100 pots. Scenes, character sketches, funny little jokes in 5 minute literary form, ephemera.
I think this will result in a better experience for you as a reader, and a better practice for me. I have so many things to share with you: moods, fleeting thoughts, murmurs of expression, entire worlds of existence bottled up and drunk down in a bottle of wine. Let’s get started with one little vignette about the American war in Iraq.
These stories were related to me by others, or maybe they were invented by me, a pastiche of fact and fiction.
A friend of mine was a soldier deployed to Iraq in the aughts. One of his platoon’s missions was to escort State Department officials once a month to a fish farm several miles outside of Baghdad. The way it would work is that a State Dept. official would helicopter out from BIAP, hang around base for a few days, then they would truck out to the fish farm and pull security in the dust while the American and Iraqi officials would go inside and drink tea.
This mission was a great favorite with the soldiers because the particular State Department official assigned to the project was a young woman in her late twenties. She would come to their base in her “outside the wire” outfit: aviator sunglasses, khakis and the iconic tight polo shirt that had earned her her moniker. In front of her the guys would try to stay buttoned up but sometimes she’d be a little wicked and try to puncture this attitude of professionalism; teasing the LT about his haircut or playing music from her phone while waiting to LD. She wasn’t self-serious, she was pretty. She was fun.
So this touch of feminine lightness combined with the wonderful hilarity of a fish farm in the Iraqi desert gave the whole mission a festive air that made the dust and boredom worth it. The dust is important, because there was nothing else. The fish farm was entirely notional, a series of shallow-scraped trenches interrupting the monotonous expanse of hard-packed Iraqi earth and scrub that stretched from horizon to horizon.
Every month they would go visit, and every month the owners of the fish farm, a tribe distinguished by being the blessed recipients of the fabled suitcases full of cash, would serve tea and discuss, prevaricate and complain about: the need for earthmoving equipment, the inability to source gravel, the unreliability of local labor, the disappearance of the project’s lead engineer, and et cetera. Every month Tits McGee would listen and promise they were working on sending more equipment and more funds, a source of bottomless entertainment for everyone involved. “What excuse did they use this time?”
Some time later it became known to them that part of her diligences also involved visiting the company commander’s CHU all night, in the late evenings before and after each escort mission, which finally answered many questions about the State Department’s interest in the whole matter.
Bite-sized tasks is the way to go. Once you have a tempo, you realize you are writing more and more words a day, of better quality, without really trying.
kek, enjoyed this.
Something that ZeroHPLovecraft said, which I think is useful, is to remember there is both:
1.) performance anxiety — nervousness before releasing something ready
2.) analysis paralysis — second-guessing, self-inflicted delays due to the inherent complexity of any large or meaningful project, which leads to a lack of clarity. This becomes especially acute when you have overlapping, or conflicting aesthetic design principles. Now you are being delayed by making case-by-case judgments on which design principles should be prioritized to override the other aspirations.
Especially writing as a side hobby, working as a passion project, it takes a long time to create a long work, and the work is done in bits and pieces, so it can be slow and tentative.
Always I love reading your work, the clarity and passion and brilliance of your vision.