Inconvenience & Intention

"...intention trumps convenience" (53)
"...the inconvenience might prove useful." (65)
— Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

I'm typing this in Writer: The Internet Typewriter, a distraction free editor that requires me to remember codes to set formatting and hyperlinking when I post these things to the blog. It's wildly inconvenient compared to the ease of Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but I use it anyway. Part of the motivation is that it is distraction free. I'm typing plain text onto a blank canvas. There are no menus, there is no grammar check, there isn't any good sharing system (though the guy who develops it may add that last "feature"). It's just a way to put words on the screen the same way a typewriter puts words on paper. The only difference is that I can use backspace, delete, copy, paste, and undo. That Writer is distraction free is the big draw for most users. I'm more into the inconvenience.

Using something intentionally inconvenient sounds like lunacy. Maybe it can be, but in this case it puts the focus on intention and in that way the inconvenience proves very useful indeed. Because I can't format anything in this editor and since I have to remember markdown codes and symbols in order to have things format correctly on the blog, I am much more intentional about the writing and about prioritizing clarity over anything else. There is work that can be done without such focus but writing as well as I can demands it. Convenience too often subverts that kind of focus.

I only have a minute left to write. The ziti is about to come out of the oven. I took some time with that too. Boiled pasta, grated cheese, made some sauce, mixed and poured all that in a baking dish. I could have grabbed some already made from Wegmans but I like the inconvenience. It's useful and tastes pretty damn good.

Let's Just See What Happens

Keep going. Don't quit five minutes before the miracle.

The first part of that is the title of Austin Kleon's new book. The second part is my paraphrase of a Dani Shapiro idea. I like both thoughts and how they fit together to inform what I'm doing and trying to do.

Last night's sticky note, a reminder to myself and a start my morning pages, says: The slow work. Just keep doing it and believe in the worth of what I am writing. It's easy to forget that the tiny thing I do today adds to whatever I did yesterday and will be followed by what I do tomorrow. I forget that, especially when I want to be published and successful in this writing thing. Successful? Isn't this successful? Does making money equate with success? If money is success, I may be out of luck. A friend wrote me that "Trying to earn anything from memoir is...well, possible. But it helps if you were raised by religious fanatics in Idaho and wound up with a degree from Cambridge." My degrees are from Onondaga Community College, SUNY Oswego, and Radford University. I grew up in Syracuse. My parents were not fanatics about much of anything. I'm so screwed.

What I'm doing now, writing on this blog, sending out an essay or two, earns me no money and likely won't for a while. I have very few followers on the Twitter account I set up only for writing and connecting with writers. I have just over fifty people subscribed to the blog. These are the facts of my networking efforts. But that is less than half the picture.

I have been writing every single day. A lot of writing. It adds up. The effect is cumulative.

Just now I went out and shoveled the driveway and sidewalks for the second time today. The snow is still falling. I may go out later and clear it again. Then tomorrow morning there will be more snow and I will clear that. The snow will keep coming until it isn't coming any more and we see and feel spring. Each time I clear the driveway is one more push to keep things orderly, to keep going, knowing that the miracle of spring is only minutes away if I squint at my watch just right.