Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Annie Dillard

I'm reading "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard for a class on literacy. On one hand I think that this woman is crazy. She talks about some of the things which involved her during her times writing. The book is filled with anecdotes about her writing process. Essentially she establishes that writing is a process of goofing off interspersed with times of productivity. Maybe this is why authors always seem to be bi-polar to me. I spent a lot of time distancing myself from this author. Reading the stories of the bizarre things that happened to her while she was writing, I wanted to be away from that mentality. I wanted to be the voice of reason calling in the wilderness... Instead I find that I am more like the voice of wilderness calling from the land of reason.

I realize this because I am a graduate student. I am compelled to do what I need to do. Compelled might not be a strong enough word. There is always a gnawing agony in the back of my mind forcing me to push forward in my studies. I'm not usually this determined about things. I usually following things strongly for a week or two, then put them aside and relax my vigor. This is why I am mediocre at chess and computer programming. (Oddly enough, all my long-term obsessions rely on caffeine: Coffee and Tea.)

I have a ritual of avoidance that I follow before I do any real work on things that I need to accomplish. I play with my son, chase the cat and stare at the coffee pot for at least an hour or two before sitting down at my computer do do anything meaningful. The slightest gesture from my wife, be it a cough or a blink, can completely break my concentration and pull me from the world of academia.

On the other hand, when I start writing, my life becomes closed off. I wrote 2000 words of my intellectual autobiography in a half and hour. (I was supposed to be doing statistics.)

I am supposed to be doing statistics now.