It’s been eight months since I last posted here, and over those months I’ve become ever more comfortable with not writing, here or anywhere else. That change raises some questions for me: why do I write at all? what value is there in what I write?
But it also sets off an alarm. Comfort is one of my tripwires, since it’s all too easy to drift further downward into laziness. And my usual response (when I’m being good, anyway) is to counter it with a discipline, a practice that challenges my natural inclination.
There was a time when, through long and steady practice, I had taken my writing from discipline to habit to trait. Right now the trait is at best dormant—things come to me which in the past I would have written down, but I let them pass on. I don’t think it’s a major loss. It’s a good reminder of exactly how consequential my writing is ever likely to be, namely not so much.
I don’t mind being a writer who chooses not to write—but I don’t want my non-writing to be from a lack of skill. Once I heard Robert Fripp, guitarist and leader of the band King Crimson, talk about how songwriting credits on live improvisations were assigned based on contributions by band members. And Fripp said that for one particular performance, drummer Bill Bruford received a credit for sitting there unmoving with his arms crossed—because it was exactly the right thing for him to do during that improvisation. Now, I could have done the same thing as Bruford during that performance, not being a drummer at all. But I wouldn’t have deserved a credit.
So to reassure myself that my non-writing is from wise choice rather than atrophied abilities, I’m going to commit to a daily practice of posting something to this blog. I don’t know how long I’ll continue with it. And I don’t know what I’ll write about. In fact, this very post touches on two of my least favorite topics, (1) writing a blog, and (2) what I intend to do. But even that is freeing in a way. Part of my constipation is surely due to fretting too much about the value of what I write. Time for some five-finger exercises to loosen up.