Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quoting others can create the illusion of wisdom

I'm returning from a brief hiatus during which my computer was at times broken, at times just in pieces. A friend helped out, and I learned some things about how computer hardware works. This of course doesn't mean that I'd be able to perform maintenance myself; as a point of fact, I'm simultaneously confident that I learned some things yet have no idea what those things actually are. Something very similar happened when I read this essay by a scholar self-professed to be disdainful of creative writing programs. Being confused, naturally I forwarded it to my mentor, who is not a "technician incapable of abstract thought" which is what he refers to stereotypical doctors of literature, but a creative writer, like myself (I think?). Not that I learned much of anything from hearing his own subjective view. Or maybe I learned that no one is objective in the matter, which I realized is what I was looking for. The same friend who worked on my computer waxed philosophical, saying "the more we become [ensconced] in a particular tradition, the more we come to its defense."

In other news, I pushed myself to work on the sci-fi short story, whose deadline is the 30th, despite not having my computer. I even stayed late at work. I secured a couple readers to look over it for me before I send it off, which is beginning to look like one of those down-to-the-wire submissions. I wasn't able to summon my usual productivity but I conjured some, so I was happy about that, managing to get halfway through the first draft. Making the transition from the meaty outline I contrived and actually putting literal details to paper helped me make some discoveries about the characters and the setting and the story. Sadly, I came away slightly worried that the effort is going to be too... busy. Detail is something I used to get criticism about, that I had too much, useless amounts of the stuff. I'm not really afraid that I've fallen back on that specific old habit, but as I've followed the story's path, there are passages here and there that seem unnecessary. It could also be that I wanted the story to be about one thing, and it's taking longer than usual to get to that point, so it makes me wonder why it takes so long, and the importance of all those details that precede it. But, "when it comes down to it," and "at the end of the day," it's my story and I have the final say about how it reads before I send it out. There's never been a mold for such things, but for some reason I find myself less able to just do the work.

And with the approaching end of September comes the beginning of October, and the final three months of the year. I haven't completely forgotten about my resolutions made at the year's beginning (only one of which I've failed to keep up with... I think). Whether to apply for graduate school comes to mind, applications due at the beginning of the year, which means it would be better to get them mailed at the end of this year. Which means that I have an even shorter clock to pay for, register to take, and perform the GRE. And I had also planned on not only being done with my sci-fi novel, but having already sent it out. And it's not inconceivable. I think I'm experiencing one of those stints of time that older people feel, where they turn around and squint after their vanishing years, a little wistfully confused. It still feels a bit to me like August.

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