Recent absence

amccoll.com is only a few months old and I’m already writing an apology for not posting updates. But this is not to give excuses or ‘manage expectations’. Writing a blog is doing everything I hoped it would. It’s made me more thoughtful and reflective, given me a creative outlet, improved my typing and web design, been a space to focus on myself and my place in the world and given me a sense of concrete achievement. I have no intention to stop now. It is simply that in the past month I’ve only found the time to escape other duties, sit down and put in several hours writing on a couple of occasions.

Writing

Because I’m interested in writing as a process of researching, exploring and expressing my ideas, rather than in producing a particular article, I don’t find I can get anything much useful done in a 30 minute or 1 hour block. I need to turn my phone to silent, fill up my glass of water, and let my mind go on a focused journey.

On those occasions this last month, I still harboured latent anxieties about other jobs needing to be done, so couldn’t get over the initial dissonance I face when coming back to a partially complete piece of work. It’s like finishing school on Friday afternoon, switching off for the next 48 hours, then trying to approach homework on Sunday evening. There’s this hump of extra work that needs to be put in first – getting your head in the right space, reconnecting with the subject and fetching your existing knowledge. To use a scientific term there’s an ‘activation energy’ – a threshold of input energy – that needs to be passed before I can re-enter the flow state and feel the inevitable pay-off from the writing process.

Creative activation energy

As a result I started two new articles, and greedily gave each over 1000 words, before needing to end my writing session. My encouraging note to you then, avid readers, is that there are a couple of posts already moderately close to completion, and I’ll be publishing them within the next fortnight.

Post length

I also feel the need to apologise for the overwhelming length of my posts, in particular the one I have just published about house prices. I tend to use recent news or events to springboard my thoughts, but focus is inevitably drawn back to an issue I feel underlies the whole argument. This can create quite a sprawling article that although not exactly lacking focus, requires the determined attention of the reader to navigate. Truly, apologies for this. I am working on it.

Although I have only recently started recording my thoughts, I’ve had them to some extent or another for years. I want to document some core ideas so that later on I can write shorter notes to current events along the lines of ‘look how this follows what I wrote two years ago’, or indeed ‘I thought it was like that but in fact it’s turned out like this’.

Finally, I have both been quite indoctrinated by my degree into writing 2000 word essays with a clear introduction, three main points, conclusion structure, and absolutely loathe lazy opinion writing. Far too much of the written word is just a white male spouting garbage he thought up in his basement, rationalising with tangential sources added after the event, and relying liberally on ‘common sense’ to make his argument.

I never want to be caught doing this.

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