Friday, February 04, 2011

What to Say, and the Curse of the Working Man

I no longer understand how people manage to blog every day. I actually never did blog 'every' day, but I used to get a post up every 2 days at least, and then every 3. Now the days sweep past and I seem to have less to say and less time to say it in. One reason is that I'm trying to get back to the science book on Charles Darwin that I started several years ago. The book is over 2/3 rds done but every time I get ready to make the final push some major issue or a host of minor issues arise. I even got some release time this semester to work on it, but as soon as the world found out I had the release time it began dumping stuff in my lap. And there's also the matter of revision. Science doesn't stand still and in the couple of years I've been away from the book some major changes have occurred in scientific thinking on evolution. I'm finding that the chapters I thought were "done," are not done. All my facts need checking to make sure they are indeed still accepted. That has slowed my progress considerably.

I generally find nonfiction easier to write than fiction, but I'm starting to realize that this may be true only for short works. A short, nonfiction essay or article can be completed fairly quickly and sent off for publication before the world changes out from under it. But a long nonfiction work, a book, creates its own set of problems, particularly in a rapidly changing field such as science.

Despite the fact that I'm carrying a cold with me everywhere I go, I actually made a lot of progress on the book this week because I literally stayed home from school for 2 days, shut off my phones, and largely stopped checking my email. But when I got in this morning I found that the work I'd skipped had caught up with me. I even came in an hour early this morning for just that purpose, and I made a dent but not much more. At least part of my weekend will be dedicated to finishing up the stuff I let slide this week so I could write. In other words, I didn't really gain much of anything.

If this post seems to ramble, that's because I had no idea what I was going to say when I started typing. I just noticed that I'd not posted since Friday and it seemed like I ought to get something up. Maybe I should have just let it slide another day, or three.

OK, I'll shut up now. Doesn't seem I have much to say.
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40 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's why I don't like to miss a day of work - it just waits for me.

the walking man said...

my offer of the perfect grading system still stands for the third year in a row. Hell I may be just insane enough for you to hire as your TA. Anything to take the load off...want me to read some of your TBR stack? anything you need buddy I am here ready to help you out!

David J. West said...

Keep on trucking.

Tom said...

I think you have expressed in your own terms a very common problem, Mr. G. I find that people who blog too frequently and too regularly tend to be the ones with not much to say. I would rather read a blog that has good content spaced out more, than one whose drivel is a regular as clockwork. Indeed, I think you have been doing a fine job. It reminds me that life is there to be lived, regardless of what a writer wants. :)

In short, you've said a lot today, and I got something out of it. Now, back to work! <>

Paul R. McNamee said...

Hey, you have more to say on your blog than I do on mine & it's always something worth reading and/or pondering!

jennifer said...

I enjoyed reading your random thoughts. I often learn a lot from your posts or think about things I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. It was nice to just... relate.

I hope you get caught up soon Charles. Have a nice weekend!

Ruth D~ said...

I hear you on the blog posts! But I've just discovered you...so keep posting. :>)

As for taking a look at a "finished" piece of writing with fresh eyes, it's discouraging, isn't it? Even published work when read after a year or so seems to need a new edit.

BernardL said...

We don't take attendance out here in Etherville, my friend. Blog when you can and get well soon. :)

SQT said...

Sometimes the best posts are the ones in which you just start writing.

I used to try to post everyday, but then you're just adding filler. Heck, I still add filler and I don't post everyday. Now I make sure to take the weekends off from blogging. You have to or you'll just stop posting altogether.

Ocean Girl said...

I think we can get tired of blogging, but just like everythingelse, we have our ups and downs. You are an anchor blogger Charles, I would be affected if you don't blog.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, indeed it does.

Mark, I may start forwarding you some tests. :)

David J. WEst, not much alternative really.

Tom, thanks. I needed that.

Paul, at times I meander all over the place and know very little of what I'm doing. But I guess that is OK.

Jennifer, thanks. I appreciate that. I'm glad you get something from it.


Ruth D~, thanks so much for dropping by. I do at last keep to a rough 3 day schedule, with various meatier posts interspersed. And I know what you mean, I can never seem to leave my stuff alone.

BernardL, I think I probably put more pressure on myself than others do. I tend to like to 'keep up,' although I don't always know what I'm keeping up with.

SQT, I've been taking quite a few weekends off and I think that definitely helps. Have to keep some freshness or it's not something to keep doing.

Ocean Girl, I'm going to keep going for now. Part of it may just be lack of sleep. ONce I get some rest I'll be back with new eyes and ideas no doubt.

jodi said...

Charles, I let the pressure off of myself and turned my 'writing' into a once a week pleasure and joy. You are very busy and need not to set any parameters. Chill and breathe....

ivan said...

re the Darwin project,

A lot of work done on this with Mssrs. Dawkins and all.

But, tonhue well out of cheek, I'd do what my uncle Dave, lately of Audobon would do. He insisted that Man was a knockoff of something else.

So, following my uncle David Allenby Smith, I propose a new theory.

Some aliens landed hereabouts.

They had lunch.

And the sandwiches evolved.

Deka Black said...

Well... first is to have an order to do the things. And maintain it. No matter what. Is like kung fu training in movies.

Can sound stupid, but the idea is simple and hard to do: build self-discipline.

Oh, and by the way. You have a lot to say. Why thinks i keep coming to this place? ;)

one last thing: about the cold... Nothing like honey, lemon juice and be even more stubborn than the cold ;)

Erik Donald France said...

Good luck on Darwin -- I'm guessing that this will be fascinating, and I look forward to reading it!

As for the Wheel of Life, salud -- to your good health and "finding" time where you can.

David Cranmer said...

You ramble nicely, sir. I am actually forcing myself to blog less (though it hardly shows this week) because who the heck wants to stop by any post daily? Who is that interesting? Hm.. thoughts with no answers.

Charles Gramlich said...

jodi, very good advice. I struggle with being a chill and breath kind of person.

ivan, I thought maybe you were going with, they had lunch, they had a shit, and the poop evolved! :)


Deka Black, I’m keeping the cold under control but I’m glad it’s the weekend and I can sleep some more. I don’t fight them as easily as I used to.
Erik Donald France, it is. Every time I sit down to work on it I get excited anew about all the great information that is out there about how animals are related to each other and to us.

David Cranmer, I’m going to try to maintain my every 3 day schedule roughly. Don’t want to overstay, or understay my welcome!

G said...

I always wondered how people can blog every day as well (I follow a blog that has about 20+ posts a week). Me personally, I enjoy the Sunday-M-W-F schedule for my main blog and the weekly schedule for my picture blog just fine.

Allows me the freedom to wallow in the misery that is my semi-amatuer writing endeavors without getting stressed. :D

In any event, even a little bit of rambling from you fulfills the need to be enlightened about all things related to life in the South.

Travis Cody said...

I guess it depends on what your purpose is. I seem to find things to post, but I'm not shaking the world every day. I just post what is in me to post on any given day...it could be a historical essay, a commemoration, pictures, silliness, or music.

I can usually get something up 5 days a week. But it's OK if I can't.

Good luck with the science book.

ivan said...

Aahh, I don't give a sh*t.

George Carlin:

How come nobody ever says "I don't take a shit?"

pattinase (abbott) said...

I blog most days but my posts are usually very short. Interesting how each of us has their own style.

Ron Scheer said...

I'm still a relative newbie blogger here, posting 5x a week, but expect to wind down after a while. You can't keep up that pace if you've got other irons in the fire.

But that book-writing problem is more serious, about to the 100th power. A friend worked 8 years on a scholarly book, and the going was so slow that he basically had to re-do the research and rewrite most of it to bring it all up to date. That took another year. He ended up with a book that was double the length of a normal one. It was a helluva object lesson for me whenever I think about writing one myself.

Charles Gramlich said...

G, I may have to ramble more often. Or maybe I already have been and have been only fooling myself.

Travis Cody,lately I just seem to be having more and more trouble. I don't think it's quite burnout but it's something.

ivan, I suppose Data on Star Trek could do so. Being as how he's an android

pattinase, I definitely blogged more in the past. I need to get back to shorter blog posts.

Ron Scheer, I have definetly slowed down in blogging, which is inevitable, I imagine. Yeah, the book is giving me fits right now but if I can just get some unbroken hours to work on it I'll be OK.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Back in 2006-2007 I blogged every day. It was new to me and such a thrill to write. Then a little too ambitious coworker googled my name and found a treasure trove of stories. Soon I went into protection mode (even though I knew that my posts were generic enough not to specifically indentify anyone); Soon I was getting into my head just a bit too much, wondering whether I'd get called into the Warden's office suite for a tongue lashing or worse. So, yeah ... the Curse of the Working Man.

Charles Gramlich said...

JR., I thought about that related to my work for a while. Xavier is a Catholic University after all. But I don't really post anything controversial I don't believe so I've stopped being concerned over it.

laughingwolf said...

some wag said it best: work is the curse of the drinking class ;) lol

Lana Gramlich said...

Not terribly long now 'til our road trip, you know. I just keep looking forward to that. All of the planning I've been doing recently has really pulled me out of the "here & now." It's been a very pleasant distraction.

I'm sorry you've been so busy & interrupted lately, hon, and I hope you feel better very soon. *huggles*

Cloudia said...

Actually you told us a lot, Charles.

Your points about blogging are well received: I too now allow skipped days.

You are working on a major nonfiction book! That could consume a serious workman's full time - so don't fail to realize the scope of all you do and appreciate and care for yourself (rambling I know )

Do blog and visit when you can.
It would be sad to 'e-lose' you.

*Cheering You On!*


Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

><}}(°>

Steve Malley said...

Aww, even when you have little to say, it's still great to hear you say it! :)

Charles Gramlich said...

laughingwolf, indeed so.

Lana Gramlich, you are sweet. Thanks for making me chicken soup today.

Cloudia, thanks for the encouragment. I appreciate it. And I know the book will get done in time.

Steve Malley, thanks, man.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Oh man, I hear you, Charles. Your projects are so neat and interesting. And you are right in taking time to make progress. Sometimes you just have to turn it all off and make progress. I hope you feel better soon. Sounds like Lana is taking good care of you.

PS. On the blogging note, I will be completely offline for a couple weeks editing & polishing off one of the novels (finally!). So if you don't hear from me that's where I am. Feel better!

Mary Witzl said...

Not having anything to say has never stopped me from mouthing off, but a heavy workload can be oppressive enough to keep me away from my laptop. That could be what's happening to you.

One of these days, I'm going to take a week off EVERYTHING work-related and do nothing but read and go for long walks. If that doesn't recharge me, I don't know what will.

Hang in there!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, may you have a productive break. BTW, thanks very much for your review of COld in the Light on Amazon. I much appreciate it.

Mary, that sounds like paradise in fact. I may join you.

Travis Erwin said...

My blogging seems to go in spurts.

Lana Gramlich said...

I would make chicken soup for you any day, baby. Hope you're feeling better.

Richard Godwin said...

You're right Charles we're caught up in a whirlwind of emails. I read an article recently that said half of them are misread and people are zooming in and out of communication fields, it has altered our lives.

Tyhitia Green said...

I know what you mean, Charles. I planned to have a novel of mine revised by now and realized that I haven't even started on revisions for it yet. **sigh**

Time definitely waits for no man--or woman. ;-D

Barbara Martin said...

Science is always changing with new theories and developments coming to the fore. As for what you say, Charels, you've said it well.

Shauna Roberts said...

I've been having trouble blogging once a week, which was my habit for a long time. Now that I'm writing almost full time, it's so much clearer that time spend blogging is time not spent writing fiction.

When I wrote a nonfiction book back in the 1990s, I was surprised how much work it was. I found that doing each section of each chapter was equivalent to researching and writing an entire article. And then of course they all had to tie together. As my opinions changed as I read more, and as scientific consensus changed as new research was published, I had to keep going back to change what I had already finished.

I wrote two work-for-hire nonfiction books several years ago and had the same problem. One of the reasons neither has been published yet is that the science kept changing so fast that each was out of date two months later.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Erwin, I'm becoming more that way and less regular as time goes on.

Lana Gramlich, I yam I yam

Richard Godwin, there are real advantages to having such instant communication,a nd some serious disadvantages as well.

Tyhitia Green, no, time consumes us, eating us a bit at a time.

Barbara Martin, thanks. the pace of change in technology and science is incredibly rapid.

Shauna Roberts, I know. at some point you have to say, this far and no further. Fortunately, a lot of paleoanthropology is historical in nature, but there is still so much new evidence turning up every day.