Rendered Fat Content


Léon Spilliaert: Self-Portrait Before the Mirror (1908)
"This Authoring's convoluted business …"

Looking back through my accumulated Authoring stories, I discover that I almost two months ago posted one entitled Cogitating which considered the long contemplative periods Authoring also entails. Today, I want to take the noun form of that same idea and explore where that might lead me, though I already know that, being a noun form, it won't contain much action or acting. As a budding codger as well as an Author, I perform much of my magic via Cogitation, by which I mean by apparently doing nothing. I excuse myself by explaining that I'm considering, thinking, figuring out, though I'm clearly not any sort of action figure while so engaged, if, indeed, I can even fairly describe myself as engaged during those times. I have gratefully not resorted to watching daytime television—how could I live with myself then?—but to any outside observer, (how did YOU get in here, anyway?) I might easily appear to be simply, perhaps profoundly slacking, and I might be slacking. The evidence that my Cogitation might bear fruit remains firmly in the grasp of the future tense during these lengthy periods. Cogitation accomplishes nothing, and without evident elegance, either.

I could probably pass for a retiree, if I would only allow myself to retire, but I remain tenaciously engaged even when, even if, I seem awfully disengaged.
In my defense, weak though it probably appears, I conjure up stories about my many prior successes, most accomplished after lengthy apparent idle periods where perhaps the Gordian knot before me was quietly untying itself before I physically engaged. If puzzles amount to ninety percent confusion, I imagine my Cogitation resolving some of that fog before I lay my hands on the problem or the challenge or whatever I'm facing down. I suspect that my Cogitation somehow breaks the resistant will of my target such that it quickly surrenders when I finally approach. Indeed, this has been my experience. The knots before me do seem easier to untangle after I've subjected them to a period of focused indifference, once I've idled myself with some strategic distance. Or so my story to myself insists.

My Authoring, too, has—and I apologize for this—largely remained a rather tacit endeavor, not fairly characterized by physical accomplishments. Who cares what the mental or emotional advances might have been? We want to see tick boxes checked, deliverables filed, actual correspondence, results, not reports of shadows fiddling around in the dark. I might be able to believe that I make progress by less than evident means, that my apparently passive engagement today, later saves me immeasurable time, but I present unfalsifiable speculation as if that qualified as evidence. It doesn't. Cogitation seems another faith-based behavior, justified by nothing but itself, which, of course, fails to amount to proof for anyone else, or even somedays, myself. One day, though, one day, I tell myself, maybe not today and probably not tomorrow, but one day, one day soon, I will quickly zoom to the finish, though I will have already foreclosed on any possibility of setting any new land speed record for crossing finish lines first.

Still, my internal experience will have been that I simplified that final surge by over-thinking it into submission. The result, when it finally appears, will usually seem easier than I ever imagined it being. Then, I will have no way of determining if it would have been easily dispatched without the lengthy Cogitation or if I had been the beneficiary of that lengthy stall. I will come to believe that the Cogitation made all the difference, an assertion eternally unfalsifiable, which might also even be accurate. By then, of course, it will not matter. I suspect that I tend to get stuck in Cogitation, that I exit only with undue hesitation, and that I might shortcut a lengthy lag time by bucking up a little sooner, but this suspicion remains unfalsifiable, too, so … what the Who?


I had sincerely hoped when I last checked in, that by this Friday, I might find myself briskly moving forward, but I remain apparently stalled, the only progress I have to report amounts to a growing suspicion that I'm gaining on my vision and can sense, if not precisely see, a resolution impending. I suspect that one morning, perhaps even later today, I'll just pick up the final few pieces of this Authoring puzzle and finally construct the picture. What's holding up and what's continuous process won't be discernible until after. Authoring seems to be one of the class of things that only come into being in rear view mirrors. Before, it's aspiring combined with, if you're me, plenty of Cogitation. After, it's a past credential and not a present occupation. There might not be an ounce of occupation in it.

I began my writing week discovering Authoring's requisite audacity, it's
Authdacity. "To do it properly means that you must seem to be doing it all wrong …"

I realized that while I am engaging in Authoring work, I haven't abandoned my real job, writing, which I engage in by
TimeShifting. "Authoring's almost all afterthought, working with cold inspiration, packaging and distribution, not creation."

I confessed to wanting to have written a paradigm-shifting book in
Paradigming. " … it remains paradoxical that anyone, artist, statesman, or milkman, could ever create a new paradigm. Paradigming's for dreaming rather than for realization."

I next sensed that a grand realization was about to pounce on me in
Spark, the most popular posting this period. "It seems that everything I attempt to accomplish involves holding a mystery, an unresolved and unresolvable question for the longest time, trying my patience, and that the resolution inevitably just visits, almost in spite of whatever I insisted I was doing to resolve the question."

I admitted to hosting voices in my head in
ThatVoice. "The budding Author in me has been listening, for I suspect that there's another voice slightly meta to my writer's one which might be whispering the plot for Authoring and its outcome."

I next indulged in what might have appeared to have been a lame excuse for my Cogitation in
TimeLagging. "The final product will just have to include a few hesitant tool marks as well as a few more decisive ones."

I ended my writing week by considering the under-appreciated importance of asking and responding to the
WrongQuestion. "Now, to be courageous or foolhardy enough to choose to not simply answer that WrongQuestion with an overly reactive wrong-headed answer, that's Authoring in practice!"

Upon reflection, I might have spent my writing week in something other than deep, dark Cogitation. I sense real progress, if only in deepening my understanding and appreciation of what I'm actually doing when Authoring. May I retain that audacious sense of what I'm attempting while TimeShifting, knowing that I pursue the absolutely unrealizable while still experiencing genuinely sparking insights and listening for and not just to that voice in my head, while time seems to lag and I manage to cleverly reframe another wrong question in lieu of falling victim to merely attempting to answer it. This Authoring's convoluted business, one probably worthy of considerable Cogitation. Like I said above, I'm no action figure. Thanks for tuning in, anyway!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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