TWP - The Wall

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is more active on the Twitter than he has been here on his very own blog. This, if you are reading this, you know. On the Twitter (by the way, he is @maximumleader), he follows Bridget Phetasy. (She is @bridgetphetasy.) He really enjoys Bridget’s writing. She is a fascinating person. He would be reluctant to try to describe her simply. He will recommend that if you are interested in learning more about her, just go to her Twitter feed. She is open about herself - sometimes your Maximum Leader finds she is uncomfortably open about herself. Anyhow… Check her out. If you like what you read, consider becoming on of her patrons via Patreon. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure why he decided to follow Bridget on Patreon, but he did. He’s not regretted it at all. And that brings us to this post.

In late 2017, Bridget exhorted her followers to write. Your Maximum Leader decided his blog was moribund and decided to try to write more. He wrote a few posts that he titled “The Writing Project.” Well… They didn’t go all that well. A few days ago, Bridget started to offer writing prompts and asked that those who were inclined to do so try and write according the prompts. Your Maximum Leader, though he will be dropping the 3rd person shtick that you’ve all grown to know and love, is trying to do as he’s been exhorted to do…

The writing prompt was thus:

“Write an intention, a new way to look at the block or wall that’s keeping you from writing, or a plan to ignore it an move on. Maybe you have a description of a formidable wall, or a negative monologue, or maybe just random words scattered on the page. It doesn’t matter, as long as you write something, anything, for five minutes. Could your wall also be giving you privacy and protection? Or maybe you need to blast a hole in it or dynamite it to smithereens. It’s your wall; you decide how to handle it.”

This prompt came from Kicking In The Wall by Barbara Abercombie. Though the prompt calls for five minutes of writing, at Bridget’s exhortation, Your Maximum Leader will go for 15 or 25 minutes. As always, what he writes would be better served by having an editor. Here we go:

What is (or was) it that effectively ended my regular blogging? I used to write about anything that popped into my mind. Then nothing? What the hell happened?

The easy answer would be life. Family with growing kids. Marriage. Work. You know (or perhaps you don’t) the regular stuff. But upon reflection it might have been a combination of three things. Those things are (in no particular order): Twitter, Self-confidence, and laziness. Allow me to expound on this…

I use Twitter. That gawd-awful shithole of a social media site. It was billed as “micro-blogging” at one point. Rather than the format in front of your eyes right this moment, Twitter was better. It was short and fast. 140 characters or less and your idea was out there. Shouted (or whispered in my case) into the ether for anyone to consume. It was instantaneous gratification. It was (and is) easy to do from your computer, from your phone, from a table. You name it, it is easy to use Twitter. How fricken hard can 140 (and now upgraded to 240) characters be? Not hard at all is the answer. And anyone can “like” your post. Or they can respond to your post. Or they can retweet your post to others. Twitter is an easy way to communicate the most basic short idea that you can have. You just put it all out there. A tweet takes almost no time. It take almost no effort. It demands almost no reflection. It just satisfies an urge. And it satisfies an urge in the worst way possible. You have an idea. You formulate that idea into a sentence. You type the sentence. You tweet it out. Once the tweet is sent, you feel like you have actually done something. You have shared an idea. You have created. The problem is that you have really just thrown some crap into the ether and hope that someone reads it. Thanks to all the algorithms that Twitter uses you can’t really be sure that anyone actually did see it (without getting some feedback on the tweet). But, you “feel” like you have done something. Also, if you read something on Twitter that strikes your fancy, you can hit that heart-shaped “Like” button. That, too, feels like really doing something. I “liked” that other person’s thought. I’ve co-opted that thought as something I “like” so in some small way you can lay claim to it. Even better, you can retweet something someone else tweets. You can even add your own comment to something you retweet. That is even more fulfilling. You are taking someone else’s thought and amplifying it in your own way. All these things feel like creation, and to some extent they are. But they are a cheap and easy type of creation that doesn’t require a train of thought. It doesn’t really require the discipline of writing lots of words together in a way that someone else could read and understand. In my mind, Twitter became a substitute for writing here. So this place languished. It just happened organically. As long as I have Twitter, I don’t think I’ll blog here like I used to. That does make me a little sad. It also leads to the second point…

I wonder about my self-confidence sometimes. By this I mean, who wants to read this shite (as my Scottish ancestors might have said)? What difference or point is there to adding another voice to the cacophony of voices? What on earth could I have to say that would amount to anything in this crazy world. I don’t know where this lacking of confidence may have come from. It isn’t apparent in the writing here from 2003 to 2015. But it is there now. Perhaps it is the times we are living through. What the hell is going on in the world? I called myself a “conservative Republican” from 1981 until about 2008. From 2008 until 2017 I started calling myself a “conservative.” Now I’m not sure how even to label myself. What am I trying to conserve? I flirted with “conservatarian” for a time. That odd term that is a hybrid of “conservative” and “libertarian.” It fits in a lot of ways. I think I am both a social and economic conservative. But I recognise that we live in a pluralistic society where civil people can agree to disagree. That is the root of my “libertarian” streak. I like freedom. I like liberty. I want you to like both of them as well. I want us to have as much of both as possible. But I also believe that the nature of mankind is generally bad and that we need restrictions on liberty. We need a society of laws. I would like as few laws as needed to have an ordered society in which we can all just get along. But sadly, this broad description of my own philosophy seems to run against the current trends on what we currently refer to as the “right” and the “left.” Both sides seem to enjoy namecalling, “sick burns” on social media, tribalism, and living in their own echo chambers. Both sides also are so gleefully and unabashedly hypocritical in their politics that it has finally gotten to me. I say finally because I’ve known politics make people hypocrites for my whole life. But I could put it aside to advance my side. Now it just upsets me. And there is the root of why this causes me not to write. I don’t want to participate in what passes for debate now. It isn’t debate. It isn’t discourse. I don’t know what it is really. It disappoints me and leads to a feeling that what I have to say is meaningless and without much value. If you don’t think what you might write has value, there isn’t much purpose in committing the words in your head to the ether for anyone to read…

The last point is one most people can wrap their heads around easily. It is easier not to write than it is to write. It is a lot easier for me to sit down in my comfy leather chair with a extra nice bourbon on the side table next to me than it is for me to write. I can sit in my chair and watch a game (mostly hockey and baseball) on TV. Or watch a stupid television show. Or perhaps read a book. It is easier to do any of those things than it is to write. I can justify my laziness as “relaxing” after a “hard day of life.” But it is just lazy. I used to enjoy writing. When I do it, I still enjoy it. But it is a shit-ton easier to sit and have a drink and not write.

So what is the plan? I don’t know. I suppose the past two weeks of writing (including this effort) is a start. It is just trying to re-establish the discipline of writing. In a way, this writing exercise is just another deflection. By writing about why I don’t write anymore I am just putting an apology out there. (And apology in the Aristotelian sense of course.) The wall keeping me from writing is not as wall so much as it is a mirror. A mirror showing me myself as not-a-person-that-writes. There is no way out of that except by not looking in that mirror and deciding to write. I could get rid of Twitter, but I don’t know that I’m going to. I could cut back. Cut back to just a few people on Twitter that I enjoy actually interacting with. Get rid of all the news and political stuff. But the platform creeps into everything. You can’t actually reduce your intake of Twitter. It is an all or nothing thing. You’re an addict or you are in recovery (or you were lucky enough to never experiment with Twitter in the first place).

I’m not sure where any of this leaves me… Except to figure out how to write more…

Carry on.

1 Comment »
Bill--The Metropolitan said:

I ceased blog writing because I wasn’t saying anything new in my blog. I now continue writing but in book format.



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