ThePipeline


"I feel as though I'm unclogging ThePipeline for a change."

The phrase 'It's a process' has always annoyed me. Back when I helped develop software systems, the phrase was employed as an intended subtle scold by those Systems Thinkers who always not-so secretly consider themselves possessed of superior perspective. They could put in its place most any bit of otherwise good advice by reminding the suggester that "It's a process," at least in the Systems Thinker's mind. The phrase still seems vacuous to me, either blindingly banal or wholly presumptive, for if it's really all process, it's really nothing at all. Some of the supposed flow must stick somewhere, if only to qualify as a thing. Granted that much of what passes for systems hardly pass any thingness test. Still, evoking the process claim seemed to predictably premise some hollow process improvement suggestion.

The process mavens rarely seemed masters of any actual skill.
They seemed to inhabit etherial ground, unable to actually code themselves, they still took license to suggest how even a master coder could improve her results. The coders learned to feign appreciation for this considerably less than sage advice, since the price of belligerence could be even longer and more emphatic unsolicited lecture. The process promoters thrived upon principles, like philosophers who had never tried surviving producing at a piece-work rate. They came across as know-it-alls but traded in few details, as if a well-placed homily could cure most any ill.

All that said, I'm learning to accept that writing probably qualifies as a process, a small portion of which actually constitutes writing. Stretched between horizons, a one-horse town of a place might properly represent the point where fingers touch keys. The rest of the "process" reaches out of sight in at least two directions encompassing preparation on one side and packaging on the other. Even typing constitutes perhaps more packaging than actual producing as the so-called writer might expend considerable otherwise creative time structuring and formatting the receiving page, fussing over infinite choices of fonts and forms. Cogitation time prior to any inspiring lightening strike might easily outweigh actual writing time, and routinely does.

The "process" of writing encompasses the whole shebang from cogitation through and even beyond reader reception. It's a long and confusing trail, little of it covered in any conception of any creative writing coursework: selecting the what, deciding upon the how, scheduling the when, facing the why, and whittling the result. Those who master just the scribbling inhabit a desert island sort of topography, perhaps producing piles of beautifully crafted cocoanuts with no place to go. The essence of process must be motion, movement from somewhere to somewhere else. Without that flow, the pieces mean little, no matter how beautifully rendered.

Give the shit away if you have to. I'm not arguing in favor of sales metrics to judge the quality of anything, but the probable necessity of some sort of 'moving in-then moving out' to animate the 'process.' Otherwise, writing seems simply pastime. After rather publicly admitting that I shudder at self-promotion, I found myself feeling less overwhelmed at the prospect. I reconsidered how I had been engaging in my so-called final editing work and decided to make a small change to my stymied strategy. Rather than review in the same form in which I created, I printed out that muzzled manuscript. Three paper jams and about an hour later, I held the two hundred and twenty five pages in my hands. I quickly re-edited eighty pages before discovering that I'd neglected to print the last hundred pages or so, a serious setback, but I persisted anyway and now hold tangible evidence that I'm not merely stuck in some intangible flow.

I have a few days' more work to complete before I've dispatched this process clog, but I no longer feel stranded on some desert island. After decades spent perfecting my cocoanut crafting technique, I seem to be finally accepting that I need to at least try to master some of the attendant down-stream process. I feel as though I'm unclogging ThePipeline for a change.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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