Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the how and the when

last week someone asked me how and when I decided what to write here.
the "how" is complicated, so I'll start by answering the "when" question:
about 25% of the time I sit down to write, having absolutely no idea what I'm going to be writing about. therefore the "when" of my decision happens sometime after I start to type.
a good half of the time I formulate some thoughts while I'm biking, and these thoughts start germinating in the saddle and come to some kind of fruition before I start to type. then the process of writing rounds them out to (hopefully) some kind of fullness.
and the remaining 25% of the time I have an idea I am SO eager to share that sentences literally leap from my fingers, whether inspired by something that happened while biking or something from a different part of my life.

now, the "how."
first of all, the gift of having a fairly young, not-widely-read web log is that I can write about whatever I choose to write about. no one monitors my subject matter, and so far my loyal readers have kindly accepted whatever I put out there, whether they like it or not. therefore, from this standpoint I have great freedom and I write about whatever inspires me each day.
second, though, is that I try to write about something that might possibly interest other people. so it's not completely all about me; solipsism can carry one only so far. I try to share thoughts and ideas that have a wider application than to just my own little life.
third, I choose subject matters that excite me. inspire me. make me giggle. astound me. or somehow make me feel connected to the rest of the world.
fourth, it's all a matter of how I feel and experience the world the day that I'm sitting down to write.
fifth, and this is one of my favorite components: sometimes when I'm riding I come up with these incredible ideas, complete sentences that bite and grab with their edginess or clarity. they are sharp, witty, brilliant. I amaze myself. and then ten minutes later they are nothing but a faint memory. I have no idea where they've gone, or even what they might have been about. where did they go? I know they existed, they were real, if only for mere moments . . . and yes, I know it's all about oxygen deprivation.
maybe I should start riding with a dictaphone.

I actually have a list beside my computer of 3 subjects to write about here, because the other day ideas were just flowing and I didn't want to forget them. today's topic is actually from that list, and I used it today because I didn't ride this morning thus had limited exposure to inspiration from the natural world. a list has not been part of my writing procedure in the past, but maybe I will have one more regularly now ~ I don't know.
writers don't come in just one model: there are thousands (and more) of different styles out there, and what works for one may stifle another. what works for me today may not work for me next month.
thus when this friend asked about how and when I decide what to write, I had to think about it. the answer I gave her was much simpler than what I just put you through. to her, I said:
"I go for a bike ride, then I come home and write about whatever inspired me during the ride."
which is probably the best answer of all.

number of times I used some variation of the word "inspiration" = 5
number of times I used the word "I" = 39
number of times I used the word "solipsism" = 1

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