1. The lesson I keep learning, over and over again: I can’t be meticulous enough. Of course it helps to have help. Recent blog entries have made me wish for an editor. Someone to make sure I wasn’t being repetitive or going too far off-topic. Someone to make sure every sentence had value.
However, the central problem with meticulousness isn’t with writing. It’s with reading and thinking.
The notes I’ve been collecting on Beyond Good and Evil are approaching the level I’d like. There’s lots of “cross reference with this previous passage” and “why does he use this word?” and “how did we get to this point in the argument?” I’m working through the aphorisms. I’m writing at least a page per aphorism for myself.
And yet there are lots of things I’ve read – lots for which I’m accountable right now – that need to be sorted through this way. What I’ve been reading recently is about how very good scholars work. There are notebooks upon notebooks and only a very few ideas are used to generate arguments and scholarship. I have the same in terms of numbers of notebooks, but I wonder if it’s enough to create something good. I get the feeling if I’m ultra-meticulous I’ll make something that has a chance of lasting. I want to try for that sort of perfection, where writing, reading and thinking are all beautifully merged. It won’t get more readers. But it’ll make me feel in command of an art, a craft: the articulation of musings that may provide fertile ground for self-reflection.
2. Things in Dallas are going well. I’m having fun, reading a lot, writing a lot. Food is great and I can’t complain about the company. I was thinking earlier that what I really wanted was way more success sooner, but now I’m not so sure. The above problem vexes me. A bit more discipline and my writing and thought can be that much better. I’m disgusted with myself for not realizing this and holding myself accountable sooner. Then again, part of me believes I had to produce badly for a time to realize more fully what it means to produce well.
I’ll count tomorrow a success if I read carefully and write carefully. Whether that happens online, well, that’s another story.