Write. Delete. Repeat.
The backspace key is my worst enemy (I rewrote that sentence five times). It gives me the instant ability to doubt and edit every strike of the keys, and the excuse to give up on each thought. If I don’t like it, I can always delete it. Write it again. Delete. Re-tool. Re-write. Delete. Translate thoughts to words. Write. Delete. Repeat. I have found myself in this unproductive and continuous cycle over the last two months, and I have not been able explain why.
In the past, I have been able to sit down and write endless nonsense until my thoughts have been emptied faster than my pot of coffee. I have not lost the ability to write (all fingers still thankfully attached). I certainly have not lost my opinions; ask anyone who has shared a beer with me in this time and they will gladly tell you that after a sip of beer I begin to speak rapidly, intensely with too many gestures (Something like this), building tangents on side tracks, while trying to solve everything and nothing with each new idea. Surprisingly, I have actually written quite a lot, only to become frustrated with the details, flow, and tone. Delete. I even wrote about not being able to write. I lasted three sentences. Delete.
For a while I blamed my struggle on a lack of creativity, practice or just honest skill. Yet, overtime, I discovered the source of my dissatisfaction through my increasingly evident thirst to drink dry the thoughts, patience and conversation of my friends. I realized that I had been attempting to write about partially formed ideas, and truncated emotions that on occasion inhabit the space between my ears. These concepts were largely ungrounded. By consuming the experiences of others, by connecting my experience, similar and divergent, with theirs, I began to see through these conversations the ground from which the ideas, and ultimately the words on paper, could grow. My writing has suffered because it lacked the foundation I based this whole “blog” (read: occasional post, marginally comprehensible), which is the simple idea that regardless of where we come from, or what we do to live, thrive and survive (Blues Brothers anyone?), we learn best about life’s many questions by sharing our experiences with others.
It is that concept of a shared common ground for all our experiences that continues to fascinate me and to drive me to ask how and why we make the guiding decisions, that lead us down trails known and unknown throughout our lives. I am returning my writing to the exploration of these questions and people who ask them. There is no better place to start than with a conversation and a friend that led me half way around the world to make wine. The next time I attempt to embed ideas in words, it will be to examine how a South African farm boy (read: mountain biking, beer swilling, fishing junkie) ends up making wine in northern Michigan.