Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Movement for the Sake of Movement

I've been tinkering off and on this whole summer trying to find a glint of something writable. From old plot lines to recent dreams, I've sketched out the beginnings of a few too many rabbit trails to flesh out in the short time between now and August first. Allthesame (one word) with nothing to show for my efforts except missing out on a few cold and rainy summer days, I'm calling it quits on writing anything of significance this summer.

It's less like giving up than giving in. I just want to play these few days I have left of the Anti-School and enjoy the company of those I've missed this last year in my whirlwind of medical education. I'm still going to write - I'll probably blog more often - but as for the great unamerican novel I've been working on, I'm gonna leave that to someone with more time and fewer pressing ambitions.

The picture to the right is one I stole from my friend, Matt's website (shhh don't tell him). I think more than anything else, shots like this encourage me to stick with my own personal brand of playful uncommitted writing and leave the rest to the pros.

Lemmi splain:

For years I've considered myself a photographer, an artist let's say, with an eye and a talent for great candid shots. I've never bought a little digital point-and-shooter because I've felt like that would undermine my ability and be somehow beneath me. I took (stole) this photo from one of Matt's many albums - this one being 400 shots deep. I could never take (capture) this shot the way Matt has here (and in every one of his other 399 photos in the album). I'm just not that good. Matt has a talent and a commitment to photography and puts his lens to good use at every opportunity. I on the other hand never take pictures because my old Cannon SLR is awkward, bulky and costs a fortune to develop. What I should do - what I'm going to do - is put the ol' girl out to pasture and invest in a pocket sized, teeny bopper, fast action, digital Swiss Army Knife. Maybe then I won't be so stressed about the art and I'll just take pictures.

For me, writing has always been good for a short burst of self-importance and escapism. It helps me focus my thoughts, create something tangible and disseminate ideas screaming to get out of my brain. It's play, pure and simple. At Gordon, a psych professor told me the definition of play is "movement for the sake of movement."

I like that.

This summer, writing became movement for the sake of something far more tangible than just movement and thus more stifling and confining - more like work than play. I found that in my attempts to take myself seriously I lost the playful edginess that makes my writing worth reading.

--//Strike that//--

I found that in my attempts to take myself seriously I lost the playful edginess that makes my writing worth writing. And therein lies the tragedy.

I started this post with just the photo of the bike on the wire, thinking it would be the makings of a great story. I even titled the page "The Makings of a Story." In the end we didn't go there. We didn't have to. It's this freedom that makes writing worth writing for me - this writing for writing's sake.

While I have enjoyed reading some of my newer, serious projects more than old blogger entries, I enjoyed writing those point-and-shoot snapshots of life much much more. I do hope one day to pen the great unamerican novel. I hope to dazzle the world with hitherto unimagined literary grace, but

I can wait.

Today, today is more important.


  1. I've had some of the same blocks when it comes to writing this summer. It seems like all my most substanstive ideas come to me when I'm away from my notebook and float away as soon as I get to write them down. Oh well, slow and steady right?

  2. Hey, nice photo! I am flattered that you admired my shots. I don't really plan any of it out much, it's a very intuitive by-the-seat-of-the-pants thing for me--once I have learned the tools, that is. But people is one thing I've rarely been able to apply that to (a few exceptions burried deep within my flickr stream... if you've never been there, that's where my best photography is: Candid shots are the only kind worth shooting, in my opinion, but I'm often just too reluctant to draw attention to myself to get in there and get them. An inhibition you usually are unhindered by! So when you borrowed my camera last fall at a school event, you fired off a LOT of excellent shots of people that I wished I could get. The photos may have needed some technical help to "pop", but you got the subject down, man.

    So what I'm saying is, I think a small digital point-and-shoot that is inconspicuous, portable, and makes everything look decent without much planning or post-processing on your part is a PERFECT camera for you, and I can't wait to see what it produces.

    It's actually inspiring me to pick up my little Canon compact (which I took the photo you "stole" on, actually) and make much better use of it now that I have several thousand shutter clicks on the SLR under my belt.

  3. Hey, you're back!
    This is you, very essentially you. Whom I love.

  4. Steadily slow for me I think. Thanks, all, for the comments.

    I think my favorite aspect of this shot is the very subtle "No Bicycles" sign in the lower right hand corner. Brilliant!