Thursday, August 2, 2007

Where has he been?

Did his computer die?
Did he die?
Did he get mad and quit?
Did he run out of things to say already?
Who’s he anyway?
These may be things anyone who has visited this blog before has been wondering, if they bothered to think about it at all. It has been a month since I posted anything on this blog. I realize this is a cardinal sin for bloggers. For the record none of those things are true! Let me explain myself.
I love writing. I express myself most fully through writing. What’s more I like the give and take of public writing. For a number of years I wrote regular opinion columns in local daily newspapers; I even got paid for them. I loved it when something I wrote inspired an emotional “Letter to the Editor” or telephone call.
It never ceases to bring joy to me that someone takes the time to read and respond to something I write. For that reason, I have really come to enjoy the quick response time of blogging. Often you get feedback to a blog within hours of posting it—sometimes even in minutes.
So why haven’t I written anything in a month?
Certainly there has been no shortage of things to write about. I considered writing about the drought that is crushing farmers on the Delmarva Peninsula—but I didn’t. I wanted to write something following the very public death of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner—but I didn’t. I wanted to write something about the Stephen King-like discovery of the skeletal remains of four babies in the front yard of an Ocean City, Maryland, taxi driver—but I didn’t.
Why?
I find myself in something of the quandary that the Biblical writer Paul described when he said “The things I want to do, I don’t do and the things I don’t want to do, that’s what I do.” Lately, I find that my time and energy get devoured by things that are urgent but not necessarily important. Writer Charles Hummel called this the “Tyranny of the Urgent.” [I highly recommend his essay written in 1967 by that title; it’s more true today than ever.]
This leads to great frustration because the things that matter most are left undone while all my efforts are being spent on things that seem necessary but bring little joy.
I think this problem is not limited to bloggers or writers in general. I suspect many of us find this kind of frustration smoldering within. I can’t give you 3 or 5 easy steps to overcome it. I can tell you the first step is to recognize it is happening. You may find that this tyranny of the urgent is keeping you from spending more time with people you love, playing golf, reading the final installment of Harry Potter, or writing your own blog. In any case, recognize that you are missing out on what would bring you real joy.
Next, in the immortal words of Nike “Just Do It!” I had to find a quiet spot, open my computer, and start writing. It wasn’t enough for me to keep saying to myself “I wish I had time to write something” or “My schedule is keeping me from writing.” This is certainly not the best piece I have ever written but it’s better than anything I wrote in the last 30 days! The same will be true of time you spend with your loved one today or that round of golf you play tomorrow—it’ll be far better than nothing.
Let me know how your own battle with that terrible tyrant of the urgent goes. As for me, I am writing regularly again so I hope you’ll be back.

2 comments:

That's Elbert With An "E" said...

Glad to see you back. I had someone comment on my site that I should drive to Delmar and kick you in the shins. I didn't think that was a good idea! I can relate to the difficulty of writing. I've got several articles I've started for my blog and never finished. Looking forward to more from you. Blessings.

swampcritter2 said...

Bruce, I can't believe anyone would suggest kicking you in the shins. I am glad to see you're back at it. Next time you get flummoxed try something revolutionary, flip a coin. I'd bet Hummel never thought of that. When I read that particular quote from St.Paul about doing the things you don't want to do... Well it's a dead giveaway. He's telling us he was a married man. Glad you're back.