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"If I burn myself out now, I might be right on time."

In my relative youth, I tried to learn how to parcel out my efforts, lest the old well run dry. The well never once ran dry, but I remained cautious of over-doing, understanding somehow that excess might bring a bill greater than I was prepared to pay. I avoided becoming a burn-out, one of those geezers mumbling into his beard, his penny spent on some youthful excess or another. I wouldn't push myself to write, for instance, but favored the old 'let it come' approach, figuring I could rely upon inspiration to fuel my progress. I used to write a song a month, or try to. Now, I meet songwriters taking a challenge to write a song a day for a month, and they do it. I can say that not every song produced in this way achieves the quality one might hope for any tune, but it's nonetheless quite an accomplishment. I can't see myself agreeing to so engage, though.

It's true that I write at least a short essay every day, but I don't think of myself as necessarily going for volume.
As I've tried to explain in earlier essays, I believe that each day brings something unique and my writing seems to be my way of challenging myself to simply notice some unique something each day. Some days, a thousand words seems like a wholly unrealistic objective, and even seven hundred seems far beyond my reach, at least at first. Years ago, I received some advice from a fellow writer. He suggested that any day I didn't feel like writing, I might allow myself fifteen minutes to prove my point, that I could sit down and dedicate myself to writing nothing extraordinary for all of fifteen minutes. If unproductive by the end of that time, I could consider letting myself off the hook. I'd tried.

The curious part of this advice is that once engaged, I rarely noticed fifteen minutes' passage. An hour or so later, I might think to check the time. By that time, I'd be nearly finished with a piece I had no idea had been lurking in there to be hooked, netted, and landed. I'm learning that the territory I so closely guarded in my relative youth might well be Bottomless. I need not worry overmuch about over fishing the danged place. Anywhere I might choose to throw in a line might well yield a catch, and one all the more surprising because I couldn't over-anticipate hooking it and hardly claim credit for landing it, either.

I do fuss, though, still. Some days. I wake up feeling buried beneath expectations. Today, I knew I needed to write two Birthday Poems, one already a few days overdue, and I wondered where the spark of inspiration might emerge from. I needn't have worried, I guess, because I managed to pull two serviceable ones out of the pond before noon, with time to spare. I could have, I speculate, continued to write additional poems until suppertime, though I knew I had other obligations today, too. The fussing seems to be the problem. I inhabit a perfect market where supply always expands to match demand. I suppose I don't always demand enough of myself, given the apparent infinite supply.

I'm trying on the notion of bottomlessness. I imagine the dimensions of my own imagination, but I suppose I lack sufficient imagination to accurately assess its size. I might reasonably assume that it's bottomless, essentially infinite. Any other assumption seems a self-limiting belief, and other than my old concern about burning out before my time, I'm now well past the age where I could credibly claim to suffer from premature burnout. If I burn myself out now, I might be right on time.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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