Getting into the groove – It has now been about six weeks since I officially launched this site, and this is now my seventh journal entry. I would say that things haven’t gone according to plan, but that would imply that I had a definite, detailed plan before I started all of this. The fact of the matter is that the only specifics I had were things that I didn’t want to do—for example, I didn’t want to start a “blog” that merely linked to the latest fad making its way around the Internet or contained short, uninteresting posts.
Focusing on the negative—on what you don’t want to do—is a sure way to guarantee that you will get nowhere, and fast. The only real way forward is to have a goal, a purpose. When I look back, though, I realize that I didn’t have any concrete goals when I first launched this site. As I explained in my first entry, my motivation for launching this site was a very real need to start writing again, but even that was just a lashing out against a void I felt in my life.
If I were to put words to the vague goal I had in mind when Liminality went live, it would be something along these lines: to write well-considered, coherent essays on a variety of topics that interest me. I even have a text file sitting around that lists ideas I have come up with for the journal, and this was intended to be a pool from which I could choose when it came time to write an entry.
Of course, figuring out when it is “time to write an entry” has proven to be more difficult than I first imagined. I had first thought that I would write maybe two entries a week, but I soon realized that this was not going to be possible, especially not with my schedule the way it is these days. I reconsidered, and I decided that roughly once a week was more realistic.
I must admit, though, that I’m a deadline person. This is the way I am used to working: presentations, papers, translations... these all must be completed by very specific deadlines, and it is these deadlines that allow me to allocate my time. I started approaching my journal in the same way—“Well, let’s see, my last entry was written on Saturday, so I should try to write something on Friday, and then maybe finish it up on Saturday if necessary.”
The idea was that I would pick a topic from my “idea list” and then dash off a witty and intelligent work of art. In fact, of the seven entries so far (including this one), only one of them has been taken from my idea list (as to whether they have been witty and intelligent, let’s just say that I hope they’ve been coherent). This should have told me that something was not right, but I was instead encouraged that I was coming up with new ideas and would have the idea list to fall back on if necessary.
My last entry shattered any idea I might have had about my journal being a nice, neat construct that I could control at will. I wrote because I couldn’t speak, because I didn’t know how to say what was inside me, but I knew that if I started writing it would all come out in the end. I didn’t write because there was a deadline, or because I felt that it was “time to write an entry.” I wrote because I needed to write, just like I needed to launch this site and start writing again.
In the week since I wrote that entry, I have thought about what this journal means to me. The fact that I turned to my journal first opened my eyes to the very visceral relationship my soul has with my writing and thus with this journal. I have been dwelling on my idea list because I think it really says a lot about the way I have been approaching things. I have now realized that I have only used one idea from the list because they don’t stay fresh for long. It is the immediacy of the thoughts and feelings that give journal entries their life; removed from the events that originally inspired them, my “ideas” become just that and no more—mere ideas, without any life or energy.
There is another aspect to my idea list, and something I should have realized sooner. When it comes right down to it, my idea list is a safety net. In a word, I am afraid that a day may come when I will have nothing to write about. This seems like a pretty irrational fear for someone who claims that writing is like breathing. Or maybe not—aren’t our worst fears that of losing what is most dear to us? In the deepest, darkest recesses of my soul, where nightmares fester and breed, there lies a fear that the well will dry up, that breath will be cut off, and that life will be extinguished.
I am trying to find my pace, get into my groove, get into a rhythm—whatever you want to call it. In the finest tradition of meta-analysis (in which every English major is trained, whether they realize it or not) I am writing a journal entry about writing journal entries. Although I may not have started this site with any clear goals in mind, I’m starting to learn as I go along what it is that I have created—and am still creating—here. Having gone through this nice little exercise in self-analysis, I think I also know a little more about what’s going on in my head when it comes to writing journal entries.
Am I any closer to a clearly defined goal for this site? No—in fact, I think I may be even further away from a goal. Perhaps what I need to do is stop worrying so much about where this journal is going and relax and see where it might take me. Then again, maybe that is the goal I have been looking for all along. I think I’m starting to hear the music now. And I think there might even be a groove in there somewhere.