Rendered Fat Content


Abraham Delfos: Oude man, schrijvend in boek
[Old Man, Writing In Book]

"I do not yet know how I'll know when I'm finished."

As I prepare a manuscript for publication, I notice a CreepingFormality entering the effort. I began as I begin most things, naive and hope-filled. I will end this effort a little wiser and even a little more knowledgeable: more domesticated. The wild streak that fueled my first steps will have been tamed into a kind of compliance, for certain principles and practices have been replacing my feral enthusiasm with deeper understanding. I've already incorporated my earlier stage discoveries into more consistent practice. No longer simply hunting and pecking, I have been watching myself gain circumspection. No longer merely writing, I'm learning to avoid do-overs. This, despite the sure understanding that one tends to get whatever one attempt to avoid.

I sense a more profound responsibility to my broadening audience as I prepare postings for formal publication.
I can no longer permit my signature inadvertent typos to persist past the final edits. I revisit earlier decisions, especially the ones I made while entranced with the initial concept of a piece. Then, I can write automatically, which seems essential to extract the story, but short-lived if I seek coherence. My sentences could have been shorter. My thoughts, a tad more direct. My point, more explicit. The differences between the first posting and the final publication edit seem as great as those between a casually jotted note to a friend and a legal document submitted to the court. I might reasonably expect the note to be generously interpreted, while the legal document will likely be interpreted more literally, whatever that might mean.

I have prided myself upon my informality, my inability to do the same things once. The CreepingFormality might be an overreaction to the sense of history publication implies. I long ago lost the notion that I produce flawless prose out the ends of my two-and-a-half typing fingertips. I know my shortcomings as well as my short-goings. I second-guess myself while hoping to retain my voice. I hope to remain as authentic as I originally intended, though the differences between where I started and where I'm going remain fuzzy and out of focus. I work with diligence, due as well as forced, still hoping to produce an improvement over my first draft approximations of perfection, even if not even then perfect.

I began this experiment as a young man. I seem sure to complete it old. The differences between young and old seem well-represented by this work—the notions grounded by experience. The lessons learned, then forgotten, only to be learned again, more painfully, the second, third, and fourth times through. The fallibility implicit in creating anything comes into ever sharper focus. I confessed yesterday to feeling as though I was becoming an IncompleteIdiot. CreepingFormality might be how I finally manage to produce completion, where I graduate into a more complete idiocy or settled formality. I carry a greater sense of history and feel the pressures of my pasts resolving into successive "final" drafts. I do not yet know how I'll know when I'm finished.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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