Rendered Fat Content


William Hogarth: The Sleeping Congregation (1728)

" … one must just keep going."

Try as I might, and I have been diligently trying, I cannot yet imagine the final form for anything I've been preparing for Publishing. I feel I have exclusively been FirstDrafting rather than final editing, though I suppose that I have been final editing. The feelings of finality have yet to kick in. I'm picking and poking at the manuscript and have not yet stumbled upon any central unifying theme. I acknowledge that central unifying themes tend to emerge rather than get engineered into anything, regardless of how cleverly anyone might attempt to engineer one. The period between initial idea and that theme's emergence might seem infinite when one finds oneself in the middle of an effort. Still, the sense that I'm merely scratching at some surface rather than anchoring my effort in bedrock unsettles this scribbler.

This middle space seems vast and trackless.
Oh, I have my list of unedited stories. They stretch beyond every horizon from here, with the sure and certain knowledge that however much progress I achieve will leave me with just an infinitesimally smaller infinity of remaining stories still stretching beyond every perspective. I try to focus my attention on just what I currently have in my hands, to not project too awfully far into any imagined future, but living and working solely within the present hardly sparks my inspiration. I ache to understand what I cannot yet understand. I hand myself another draft and follow myself through another proof, only to wonder what I've proven in that process. I had hoped for more spark.

Some manuscripts seem like revelations with a world hungering for their presence. These strain at their workstations, their futures impatiently tugging and pulling for their publication. Others remain entirely unexpected, invisible to the point of non-existence until after they're finished, sometimes even forever. Few freshly published manuscripts get gobbled with very much relish, and even fewer get inhaled as if they were at last the long-awaited last gasp breath foretold. Some seem an inside joke closely held by the author, who feels in his bones that, once released, this one might well change the tone of perspective in the world. Instead, they carry a 'just wait' urgency that aches in their bones. They heave at their anchors, anxious to set sail.

This current one still seems like so much paperwork, hardly an inspiration. I've long counseled those attempting projects to work perhaps hardest to suspend judgment on the quality of their product until their destination comes into sharp focus. Too-tight scrutiny and even slightly harsh judgments upend impending magic. Better, I suggest, to process as if an idiot than to smother an innocent and worthy effort expecting wise but premature maturity or insisting upon immediate perfection. A creator simply cannot determine the quality of their product until very near the actual delivery of it. Before then, it's properly undifferentiable and objectively a mess because it's inevitably the result of FirstDrafting and not final finishing. There's no obvious way around this dilemma. One may successfully deceive one's self or smother beneath the sense that the result will not have been worth the effort. But, in the absolute absence of knowing, one must just keep going.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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