Random Notes

The public notebook of writer and essayist Scott Nesbitt

Every writer eventually winds up with that piece of writing. You finish or come close to finishing something, but it's not quite right. It didn't turn out the way you expected it to. The piece doesn't sing. It doesn't soar. The core, the heart, of that piece of writing is there but the rest of it doesn't really work.

When that happens, you have a difficult choice to make: do you salvage that piece of writing or do you abandon it? Here's some advice that can help you make the decision.

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Some interesting posts I've discovered in these parts over the last while:

Confession time: in the recent past, there was a period of about two years during which I lost a lot of confidence in my writing and my ability as a writer.

I won't bore you with the details, but during that 24 month period I wasn't happy with a lot of my work. That, in turn, put a huge dent in my productivity and in my plans.

While I've regained a lot of my my confidence, there are still a few steps I need to take. I'd like to share with you what I did, and what I'm still doing, to get that confidence back. It might help you if you're in a situation like this.

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It's quiet. An almost overwhelming lack of noise. Something I haven't experienced since the Northeast blackout back in 2003. It's a quiet that I'm finding both comforting and disconcerting.

I live near the centre of Auckland, near a fairly busy intersection. Normally, even just before 7:00 in the morning, there's more noise. Cars. Buses people. Today? The occasional car. An empty bus. A few folks out for an early morning walk or run.

The daily rhythms that I'm used to are gone. Gone is the comfort that I found in those rhythms. Gone is the flow and energy I took from them.

This is the new normal. For how long is anyone's guess.

I wonder if this silence, this emptiness will become the heartbeat of the city. I wonder what will happen when everything goes back to some semblance of normal.

Interesting times.

Some interesting posts I've discovered in these parts over the last while:

Thoughts around the idea of place has been rattling around my brain for the last little while. That's sparked several questions, like:

  • What does place mean to me?
  • What makes a place special or important or repellent?
  • How does a place shape or influence you, and in what ways?
  • When does a place have its greatest impact on you?

And with those questions have come a ball of half-formed ideas and concepts and thoughts. Exploring all of that should be interesting.

Confession time: I don't read as much as I used to. There are a lot of reasons for that, ones which used to stress me out. Now, not so much.

As I've gotten older (and, I hope, a tiny bit wiser), I've been able to adapt my reading habits to my shrinking amounts of time and energy. While my reading schedule probably isn't optimal (and it's definitely not perfect), it seems to be working.

During the week, I structure my reading around whatever dead time I have during the day. That includes the daily commute and lunch time. As for what I read during that time, it's usually longer-form articles and the various email newsletters I subscribe to — thank goodness for read-it-later apps like wallabag. The former, for the most part, go into my curation project called The Monday Kickoff, so that reading does double duty.

When I get home after however many hours at The Day JobTM, I'm out of consume mode and into create mode. Evenings are when I write. The limited time and energy I have makes me stay away from reading just about anything.

But what about books? Those come on the weekends. I try to read at least two chapters of whatever book I'm digging into Saturday and Sunday; often one chapter on Friday evening.

By doing that, I don't get through many books in a year. At most, maybe 15 or 16. That number depends on the length and depth of the books. Not reading all that many books, especially when you hear about people reading three or four or five times that many in 12 months, doesn't bother me. Reading isn't a race. It isn't about bragging rights. Reading is about enjoyment. It's about learning. It's about challenging yourself with new ideas. You can do that just as well with one book as you can with 10.

The only thing I'm not doing enough of is taking notes about what I'm reading, whether it's an article or a book. Which is strange, seeing as how I have at least one notebook handy at all times. Maybe that's something to work on in 2020.

Someone reading a book, slowly

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Think about the life that you want to lead. Think about how that life is defined. Is it:

One where you're in thrall of your computer, smartphone, and tablet?

One where you rely on gadgets to perform even the simplest of tasks?

One where you feel compelled to be constantly connected?

One that's ruled by assembly line productivity?

One that's governed by seemingly endless to-do lists and checklists?

One in which complexity wins out?

One where stress and anxiety are the norm?

OR is it:

A life that's simple and balanced?

One where you have time to work and play and relax?

One where you can focus on work that matters?

One where your choice of operating system, mobile device, or software doesn't have any bearing on your goals?

One where productivity isn't a race or a contest?

One where you aren't compelled to obsessively and endlessly tweet or check in?

One where you live in the moment instead of logging it?

Which life would you rather lead? And what would you need to do to make that life yours?

There are bands out there that you just can't get into. But every so often, one of those bands puts out a song that hooks you and reels you in.

For me, one of those bands is Hawkwind. One of those songs is “Silver Machine”. A song fronted by Lemmy. Yes, that Lemmy. The one who founded Motörhead.

I admit it: I'm something of a fan of Lemmy. His rendition of “Enter Sandman” still sends chills down my spine that Metallica's original never did. And while Motörhead is probably the tamest metal I listen to, I've always enjoyed his work with that group. Anyway, someone who can put the world parallelogram into a song's lyrics deserves a tip of the hat.

On “Silver Machine”, we get a Lemmy whose voice has yet to be shredded by a constant stream of Marlboros and shots of Jack. We get a Lemmy who's showing that he can carry the weight of a song on the shoulders that support his Rickenbacker bass. We get a Lemmy who sounds like he's having a lot of fun. The he was able to do the vocals in one take is a testament to Lemmy's abilities.

The song itself isn't great. It's good, don't get me wrong, but “Silver Machine” doesn't quite rank up there with the best songs of its era. That said, “Silver Machine” is a good listen. It's joyous. It has a great flow. It's a song that just works. It's a song you can listen to over and over again, and never get bored with it.

A record on a turntable

Photo by Anton Hooijdonk from Pexels

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