While I was studying at Grove City College, there was an admittedly strange tradition during the week of final exams. One night during that week, at around 10pm, a group of students would gather at a predetermined location on campus for what was called ‘Primal Scream’. Those who participated would gather and simply shout for a minute or so before returning to the books or going to bed. It was a means to get out the frustration and angst of hours spent studying for exams and writing papers. Leave it up to Grove City College students to organize something called ‘Primal Scream’. When I think about it now, I see it as akin to an anarchist group hiring a board of directors. Regardless of its muddled form, I participated a few times. It was a good release of the frustrations that built up around finals time. Plus, it was fun to gather with a group and yell for no reason for a few minutes.
I recount this event because, though it’s been years since I graduated and was required to take a final exam, there is often welling up within me a comparable need to release a primal scream. This need comes from a problem with blogging/writing that I’ve discovered, at least for myself. I want so badly to express exactly my thoughts and feelings, but I am often so limited in my ability to get them out as they exist in me. Perhaps at some point in the future I’ll reach a moment in which I’ll perfectly be able to bare my soul, as it were. Until then, if I were to attempt such a feat, it would culminate in nothing more than an ungodly noise.
As it stands now, I have neither the experience nor the skill to follow in the lines of the great writers I read. As of this writing, I’m currently reading books by Hemingway and Kerouac, two great 20th century American authors. Although I’m frequently inspired and encouraged by their work, they also manage to give me further frustration because I’m nowhere near their ability. Granted, I don’t want to devolve too far into comparing myself to such iconic writers, but avoiding comparison entirely is difficult. At the very least, in these two I know I have good role models (when it comes to writing, that is).
Beyond unhelpful comparisons lie other issues. For example, I get distracted far too easily. Furthermore, writing is often very difficult for me, which probably causes a lot of the distraction. I only publish once per week because that’s honestly all I can muster at this point. Even then, it could be too much. I try to write every day, and I’m met with varying degree of success. Still, it’s a process. I pour a lot of myself into what I write because of the previously stated goal of wanting to write only that which is worth reading. That’s a promise I’ve made to myself and to my readers, and it’s a promise I fully intend to keep.
In order to keep a promise of such magnitude, though, it requires me to wrestle with myself and those aforementioned thoughts that I want so badly to convey. Unfortunately, I’m still a disastrously flawed vessel when it comes to articulating these thoughts precisely as they are in my mind. Moreover, the weekly format with which I post here doesn’t lend itself to a great deal of editing or review. I don’t have enough time away from the piece before I publish, so I’m unable to see it as objectively as necessary. This is especially true when I find myself on Saturday morning trying to sort through my half-baked musings to publish something that’s readable so as to meet the self-imposed deadline that’s quickly approaching.
(One could argue that this issue could easily be solved by having a good editor. I would agree. If you or someone you know would be willing to take the job with the promise of nothing more than my eternal gratitude, my contact information is listed below. I say this in jest, of course, but as the saying goes, there’s a lot of truth said in jest.)
Another part of the problem for me is that, when it comes to writing, I am a perfectionist. In fact, it takes me overcoming my natural tendencies before I’m finally able to click the ‘Publish’ button. This is even after I’ve read and reread a post an innumerable amount of times, editing as I go. Once I publish, aside from some necessary changes to updated links and the like, I’ve very purposely avoided going back to make changes to previous posts. If I did that, I’d be stuck in some Sisyphus-like loop. I’ll pass on that special kind of hell, thank you very much.
By nature, blogging is both good and bad for me as a writer. It’s good because it requires me to let go of pieces I’ve previously written. It keeps me on a regular schedule, even if that schedule is self-imposed. Most importantly, it gives me a platform to share my writing. The downside, though, is that I may not end up with a finished product about which I am totally satisfied. This was the case with last week’s post. I didn’t hate what I wrote, and I felt that it was important that I say what I did. That’s obviously why I sat down to write it in the first place. However, I can’t say that I was completely happy with the result, for the reasons I stated here.
Perhaps this could all be seen as a diatribe on the shortcomings of blogging, though that’s not accurate. Rather, this is more of an airing of my own personal struggles with the writing process. Neither is this by any means an attempt to exact sympathy or pity. Far from it. If anything, this piece is more for me than for anyone else. It’s a way for me to release some of the tension in my gray cells without actually resorting to a primal scream. It’s a call to action for myself to keep at it, to continue writing and honing my skills. That, I think, is ultimately what I need to do to alleviate this frustration.
Yet even in the midst of finding a remedy for this issue, I want to maintain the desire to reach deeper into myself to pull out that which is inside me. I never want to settle with any progress I make because there’s always room for improvement, in writing and beyond.
I admit that this might not be the most uplifting thing I’ve written. However, it is honest, which is why I wrote and published it. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about writing, and I fully expect that it won’t be the last. This in itself betrays how far short I fall from my intended goals with regard to writing. If I were perfectly able to say what I wanted to say, there would never be a need to attempt to say it more than once. Yet here I am, writing about writing once more with the disclaimer that I’ll likely do so again in the future.
For lack of anything better to say, stay tuned.
A pilgrimage is an intensely personal journey, but it is not one that a pilgrim undertakes alone. I don’t want to ‘talk’ into a vacuum. I want to hear other voices, too. What I’m trying to say is, I want feedback! Have I spoken something to you? Is there something you think I should know? Do you have a question about something I said? Please leave a comment below or contact me at Pilgrim.Brett@gmail.com
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