On Whether to Write

December 05, 2018

Last night we had our second meeting of the new discussions I’m holding, called Through a Glass Darkly. It went exceedingly well; I wrote at some length about what we discussed.

I’ve also hosted an internal debate about whether to continue writing publicly in December, and if so, the frequency at which I ought to post. November’s barrage, though not always great, led to six articles of reasonable interest, and I imagine there’s an inevitable ratio of chaff to wheat that mandates a minimum amount of writing. What I mean is that if I’m not writing all the time, it’s unlikely I’ll write anything worthwhile. And while I write every day for myself, what I write in a journal is not as polished as what I write for the consumption of a public, however potential, however small. I’ve spoken to someone else who wrote publicly every day for three years, and he reported that it massively increased his ability to have ideas.

Whether having ideas is my goal is another question; I would have said that improving writing quality was primary, possibly exclusive, though I wonder whether that goal isn’t inconsiderate to both ideas and to readers. In any case, I’m considering reducing the frequency to twice or thrice a week, at least for December, to see how it goes. I don’t think this can be too injurious, though I’m mildly wary of committing at all in December. California is normally placid, though for me not complacent, but I’ll have my family to be with, and wouldn’t like to add any undue stress, or to detract from our time together. Then again, it’s always lazier than London, and maybe I ought to make the most of the languor and hours, and put my mind at least partially to work.

I have mixed feelings about digital versus analogue as well. I’ve piled up notebooks over the years; they make me fear fire followed by tears. The digital word, ironically, is now more durable than its more concrete counterpart, but the public remnants are more embarrassing—and perhaps less poignant—than the private print, the secretive scrawl of the laboriously written word.

When I write longhand, I also write more verse. On the one hand, I love the liberty of metre’s strictures. On the other, there’s no demand for it now, little place for it today, unless, I suppose, one writes songs. Then one seems either to write for dozens of indistinguishable performers, or to be a singer songwriter of one’s own, and I am neither, none. Meanwhile poetry itself, insofar as I have seen, has lost not just the plot but the verse to boot, leaving it little life, and worsening the uncertain state of an anachronistic artform.

Bryan Kam

I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter, follow me on Mastodon, or see more here.