Monday, March 31, 2008

Why

Unlike the last two entries posted here, this one is of no real consequence. It does not attempt to analyze anything worldly and has no political overtones. Also unlike the past two entries, this one will not be cross-posted on my political blog, “Home of the Free.” Fair warning: If you are expecting to read what my views are regarding the presidential race, Iraq or anything else really important, you may as well stop now - today is not the day. However, if you are looking for general insights, a peak inside my head or just something to kill a few minutes… well then, you have come to the right place.

My first journalism professor turned me on to blogging. His wife, my second journalism professor, reinforced it. Not because she was a blogger herself (she is now, but that is not relevant to this piece), but because she explained one way in which her husband used his blog. Although I had already created my blog (this one, now more than two years old) before we met, her insights to this one aspect of her husband’s blogging helped me to crystallize why I was so enamored with the medium. It’s about exercise…

To become really good at anything, it takes practice. Although natural talent does come into play, Tiger Woods was not born with a putter in his hands. It took practice and lots of it to develop his skill. From other sports superstars like Michael Jordan and Joe Montana to artists such as Robert Frost, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jackson Pollock, Maya Lin and even Fred Astair - all had natural ability that was only realized through hours and hours of practice. If at all like me, much of it didn’t feel like work - they were in love with their work as I am with mine. Indeed, with very few exceptions, everything published here has been pro bono.

That first journalism professor used his blog to loosen up; to get his creative juices flowing; a veritable stretching of his literary muscles before he would get on with the real writing - the kind he got paid for. And often, so is the case with me. In 24 hours I will have five stories hitting deadline. So far I have not laid down a single character although the leads for each story have been dancing around in my head for a few days now. But until I started this piece, my fingers had not seen any sustained keyboard time in a couple of days. Not even close to long enough to get rusty, but it has been long enough that a little warm-up couldn’t hurt. This is my pre-game routine, if you will.

But I wouldn’t do even this if I did not enjoy writing. I get why musicians are constantly playing. Natural skill and practice, however, are only two of three the key elements. The last is desire for without it, practice feels like work making the use of any talent nothing more than toil. Writing used to be that for me… occasionally it still is but I find that by simply laying down some prose just to limber up, it becomes natural once again. I rediscover time and time again what I could not feel just a few short years ago. It is at once frustrating and freeing, agony and bliss; it can often feel impossible to start yet once begun will leave me begging for a moment to close.

And then I realize why I do what I do. It is so much more than any job has ever been.

8 comments:

kenju said...

Isn't it great that you made that discovery?! I think writing gets easier each time you do it. Exercise for the brain, no?

John "Yianni" Smyrni said...

Damn you Michael...

~Easy said...

That's it exactly.

Of course, my writing doesn't get any better...E_C_

LADY LUXIE said...

Hello Michael...I am just wondering what other things you have been
( doing ) before you discovered writing.

ps: I am referring to profession, craft, work.

Star said...

Hi. Michele sent me. Sometimes the hardest part of blogging for me is just getting started. For some reason I will put off signing in, but as soon as I start I feel much better for it. Just getting those thoughts out of my head and onto "paper" is a bit of a relief. THen I wonder why I procrastinated so.

butterfly girl said...

I understand the warm up process. I often post and then go to do the things that are calling (dishes usually) and then things are just pouring out of my head and I know if I tear myself from the task at hand I will spend too much time in front of the computer. So I think my blog is a way to jump start my brain but I leave it there. By the time I have a minute to set down again the flow is gone. I guess I should utilize this realization huh Thanks!

Ellen said...

and write you should.... after all, you are so darn good at it.

Snaggle Tooth said...

I really enjoy unstructured writing myself- n am really avoiding some unfun writing myself!
The sidetrack to the not-required is alluring for writers...