This is a story about putting pressure on yourself...
When we see a completed masterpiece - a great book, a magnificent painting, or even an app or a website - then we can be fooled into thinking that its creators must have envisaged the end result from the very beginning, and worked methodically until the work was done and ready to be unveiled to the public.
What we don't see are the unpublished drafts and the unedited rough manuscripts. We never see the layers of paint beneath the top layer, where the painter's brushstroke might have been misplaced. We quickly forget how ugly and buggy the early versions of software are, and how few features they had.
We also forget that complexity is built upon complexity. The author depends upon a typewriter, paper-making and book-binding, along with typesetting, ink making and a thousand other innovations, which allow their words to be neatly condensed into the final product. The painter depends upon the many pigments which had to be discovered, as well as the paint-maker who will create the oils, acrylics and watercolour paints, and the canvas maker who will create the surface onto which the masterpiece will be painted, layer by layer. The software engineer depends upon the CPU, memory chips, hard-disk drives, motherboards, a screen, mouse and keyboard, plus an operating system and myriad other pieces of software, which enable them to code their apps and websites.
We only see the finished versions, and we do not see the vast complexity which is hidden behind. We do not see the thousands of years of discovery, innovation, invention and craftsmanship, which have evolved and progressed with iterative improvements, until the day when even a lowly common man or woman, with little money, can create something which would have been considered a rich man's hobby, not very long ago.
I desperately want to demonstrate to the world that I have a mind that can encompass enough of science, technology, engineering, mathematics as well as much more practical things such as paper-making, book-binding, typesetting, and the inescapable physical world, where food, water and energy cannot be delivered via your broadband internet connection. I can build shelter. I can fix a vehicle. I have knowledge that extends well outside the narrow confines of STEM. I want the world to know that, because I'm insecure and I feel like I was briefly written off and abandoned - assumed to be a piece of expendable human garbage.
I'm not going to push myself to write so much today. I need to tell myself that it's OK to write a little less on days when I'm either too sick, too tired, or unable to make enough time to write something that I think is worth publishing.
I've decided to allow myself to publish shorter pieces of writing, when circumstances demand it. Not everything I publish needs to be an essay.
I put immense pressure on myself to produce things which are impressive, or at least somehow 'magical' creations. Many people have now learned how to create a website using tools which have simplified the process, making it as easy as sending an email, but the way it works is still mostly 'magic' to them. We don't need to know how to fly a plane in order to be a passenger, but we should still appreciate that the pilot spent a lot of hours learning their profession, and so we shouldn't underestimate the skill involved in every safe landing, which we often take for granted.
Laid bare on these pages, dating back to September 2015, we can see the development of my writing style and the discovery of the topics I'm passionate about. We see how I refined my writing process and how my thinking has developed. I could have done this process by writing private journals and unfinished novels, but instead I offer up my stream-of-consciousness as an "open source" piece of software, complete with all the ugly early versions which were full of bugs and didn't have many features.
It's hard to find the time and the energy to write every day, but it's a lot easier if I allow myself the freedom to simply unload a few thoughts and feelings onto the page, without worrying too much about whether it meets some arbitrary quality standard, which I've imposed upon myself voluntarily.
It was very kind of friends who've stuck with me through periods when I stopped writing, to greet my return with enthusiasm and remarks which greatly encourage me that my writing is being well received by people who I care dearly about.
It needn't particularly complicate my day, or add unnecessary pressure, to get in front of a keyboard and bash out a few words... even if it's the merest dab of paint onto a huge canvas, it does at least cumulatively contribute to the finished artwork. I would hate for my readers to think that I've abandoned blogging.
Thanks for reading. It means so much.