For years, everyday I have sat down and hammered out a few words. Sometimes those words are purely for myself and other times they are posted online. Honestly, most of my online writing is for myself. Really only my efforts to publish academic papers should be considered truly public facing words. Contributions to the broader academy that comprises the written tradition of academic thought are about giving back to that tradition. They are about making a contribution that moves things forward. Maybe recently the mass proliferation of academic publications has made it harder and harder for those contributions to be heard and shared. Perhaps the echo of academic thought has grown smaller in recent years. More and more it is the echo of popular culture on social media that effectively brings people together at scale. Even historically most academic publications had a small, but highly dedicated following of intellectuals that were interested in having and keeping a shared understanding of the world around them based on keeping tabs on the rich tradition of what was published within the academy.
Right now sitting next to me on my desk a copy of the Public Administration Review (PAR) needs to be read from cover to cover. For better or sometimes for the worse, the one academic journal that I have consistently read over the last 20 years is PAR. Sitting right on top of that journal are copies of Wired magazine and Data Science From Scratch by Grus. Those three publications probably reasonably encapsulate my current academic trajectory. Maybe that can help inform my daily writing cadence going forward. More likely than not, I will continue to generate highly functional journal entries and occasionally sit down to write long form articles. During the moments where being reasonable seems easy I might acknowledge that more of my time needs to be spent writing academic articles, but that is always easier to dream about than to actually muddle through. Hammering the keyboard to produce some prose is almost always going to be about either what has my attention at the moment or what I’m passionate about. It is a rare confluence of events where stream of consciousness writing ends up being academically publishable.
My computer setup includes a digital to analog converter that runs out to my Audioengine speakers. That includes a right and a left A5+ speaker. The same setup has an analog type switch that goes out to my record player. That means that any time I decide to spin up a record and listen in analog mode the sound on my computer is turned off. Maybe that is something that pauses the alerts and any other sounds that might be happening, but it also lets me focus in and really listen to the music and work on whatever needs my attention without interruption. Right now I’m listening to a Jimi Hendrix album called “Both sides of the sky” that was released last year.
Today I reverted to writing in my desktop version of Microsoft Word. Additionally, today was a day where it seemed like a good idea to shave my beard (well technically it was yesterday, but for dramatic purposes I’ll go with it). Your right that is a double whammy. Not only did I revert to writing in a desktop application, but also, I’m doing this writing today without a beard. That may or may not make a difference, but it changed my mood and how I relate with the world. Seriously, it has been over a year since the last time the wind hit my face directly. From time to time I can feel the cold hitting my face. That is a real thing and it is somewhat unsettling. Maybe that is enough to get going and to get writing at a higher clip. Sometimes getting outside of your comfort zone can help ramp up the words.
Sunlight was just showing up on the horizon. Daybreak was about to happen and the clouds were holding back the sunrise for just a few more moments. It was a magical time of day. A world of different possible futures existed at that moment. Driving behind a windshield enclosed in a car it was like watching a painting. Things never really felt fully tangible during the morning commute. It happened every day. These things happened every day all over the country. Maybe this one was going to be the best ever or it might just be another in a long string of things that happened. Every little bit of color that appeared on the horizon took a second to process. It was something that should be magical, but it was just going to be gone. These things never lasted very long. Most of the time it happened without any appreciation or anybody documenting it for posterity. In some ways the moment was fleeting without purpose or necessity. Maybe this round of daybreak would be more impactful. Today just might be the day where things happened. It just might be the day where things turned around from promising to perfection.
Somebody in the distance was shouting, “next.” Maybe they were just shouting something that sounded like that word. It was really had to tell, but it was enough to make me wonder exactly what was going to be next. The day started off with a drive to work and from there it was mostly the same thing with different people every day. Sometimes you appreciate the routine and sometimes you start thinking that maybe more would be better. The idea of more remains powerful to some extent. Opening the door to what might be possible is highly dangerous in terms of potential disappointment. Imagination quickly can outpace the possible. Sometimes the things that are happen in your routine are good enough. They are not just past perfect or anything, but they are good enough to make a go out of it. That is the real questionable part of planning to move on and do something else. It really does discount the value of the things that are happening now. Comparing a vision of a perfect possible future to the contemporaneous value of the now means knowing the moment and the possible. Boiling it down to just that thought could be enough to help figure some things out. It might be a good roadmap for that type of consideration or it could just be a distraction from plunging forward with a single minded purpose that gets things done.
Most of the drive was now over and the sunrise still stood off to the side now. Turning down this road was enough to put the morning light show off to the side of the car. It was out of my main field of view. Maybe that was an analogy for something that should be apparent or maybe it was literally what happens when you turn down this road. Roads are build in a variety of directions and some of them go directions other than East or West. Parking would be easy enough at this hour. Maybe that first deep breath outside the confines of car would be full of the smell of fresh cut grass. It could be of something else entirely. Maybe some standing water from that ditch had built up a smell of some type over night. Either way at this point the sunrise no longer seemed to be drawing my attention. All of my thoughts were focused on that first breath. Pretty much the entire day now rested on the positive or negative value of that moment. Sure that might seem like a reach, but it was about to happen. It was about to happen with one good pull on the car door handle…
Writing on my 34 inch monitor is not working very well for me today. That just might be an understatement. It is not working at all. Maybe getting back to basics and writing using my ASUS Flip C101P Chromebook will fix things. Perhaps having a screen that large is just making it hard to focus on the written word. This screen is about 10.1 inches with a resolution of only 1280×800. So far it seems to be working. Writing is happening. It is happening in a slow and somewhat stunted way, but it is starting to happen with a greater degree of depth and frequency. At some point during the course of this 30 minute writing session or typing on this keyboard my plan is to stop thinking and just open my mind the world being created. That pretty much means that today is going to veer off in the direction of a short story. Writing a whole novel (autocorrect had level instead of novel; that made me chuckle) seems so far away from where my thoughts are today, but maybe just maybe waxing philosophical about the snowflakes falling outside will inspire some type of short story. It will inspire some type of prose that could string together something into something interesting.
My fountain pen was at the ready. Now the keyboard has become my writing tool of choice. Outside my window it went from a bit of morning rain to dropping some very large snowflakes today. We shoveled the driveway twice today. The snowflakes are still falling and might continue doing that until late tonight. My thoughts for the briefest moment drifted to the idea of writing a novel about the concept or more boldly put bewildering process of being grown-up. It happens, but it is one of those things that make shows up without any fanfare and never really drifts away. It only brings more and more rules with it to form up a foundation of acceptable things. Distorted by my vision of the way things were being grown-up remains something that generally is hard to do. That just might be the central thesis of the rest of the words that would be written in this novel. As a premise it is not the worst way to start writing about things. Some things keep changing and a lot of things just sort of remain the same day after day.