the original kStyle blog.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wednesday Writing Assigment

I'm done with the cleanse, and the whole universe of eating is again, so to speak, my oyster. But I don't want it. I had millet for breakfast anyway. What the hell is wrong with me?

Tell me about a time you obtained something you thought you really wanted, but then...didn't want, after all.


Blogger Emma Goldman said...

I kept trying to think of something Big, but failed. The best I could do was when I started lifting weights. I thought I'd like it--I even hired a personal trainer for a handful of sessions--and I DID like what it did for me. but the actual lifting of the weights? I hated it--hated, hated, hated it, because it was so unbelievably boring for me. I started doing yoga not long after that, though, and that's been a much better thing.

10:09 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

weight lifting totally counts

10:22 AM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

See, I don't think of these things as "wanting and then discovering I don't want them after all," I think of them as "checking something out and seeing whether I want to make room for it in my life." It's like getting my stepson to try new foods. he's the pickiest eater (well, not THE, but in the competition, surely), so I just encourage him to try stuff, with no blame or criticism if he doesn't like it. (I've even pointed out places where he can spit something out, e.g., in a grocery store if there's a sample of something.) This is how I've gotten him to eat strawberries, though, and he's definitely widening his outlook, but I know he won't like everything. (Scallops, for example, were NOT popular.)

10:56 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

When I was a kid, I wanted a puppy more than anything. My parents weren't pet-people and tried to dissuade me, but I made quite a pest of myself and eventually got the puppy. I named him Barker.

But it turned out that my parents weren't kidding about my having to be the one who fed him and walked him and cleaned up after him, and Barker wasn't very interesting, either. He yapped and played around, but he wouldn't learn any tricks and he slept too much.

So after about a month and a half, I put him outside and let him run away. I feel kind of bad about that now, but really, he was a very dull puppy.

12:34 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Eric: now I don't know whether you're kidding.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Here's something that's less along the lines of obtaining and more along the lines of emma's "checking something out":

It seems like I've always wanted to be a poet. I'm in grad school pursuing an MFA in poetry. I'm in a poetry writing group. My family thinks of me as a poet and turns to me for anything that can be construed as creative writing, including obituaries. My brother is the musician; my sister is the artist; I'm the writer. That's just the way it is.

Recently I thought to myself, Well, I don't have to be a poet if I don't want to, I don't even have to like poetry--and the wave of relief that followed shocked me. I didn't even know I didn't want to be a poet; I've followed this trajectory for so long that I'd never considered anything else.

In the end, I figure that life's too short to convince or force myself to like something, so I'm going to stop doing it and instead concentrate my energy on subjects on which I can spend countless blissful hours even when they're hard or frustrating or boring.

I'm going to finish my MFA, though, because all I have left is my thesis. And, after all, I enjoyed the learning experience. Even if it was expensive and I could've studied something else instead.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Wow--that's pretty amazing (and freeing!), Ann. You're right to finish the degree, though, given where you are with it. W/r/t the thing you like--like stylesheets!--I think your writing ability is relevant there, as are your organizational abilities. Good code is a thing of beauty and elegance. (Have you ever seen the hackers' dictionary, btw? I'll send you a link if not.)

10:00 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Ann, that's amazing. I mean, I remember your notebooks full of stories from middle and high school, so I realize how far back it's gone. Congratulations on the new freedom.

And you know, maybe you'll enjoy writing more if it's not a "have to".

11:16 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

I'm a little surprised by responses like, "It's wonderful that you don't want to be a poet anymore!" (I'm waiting for Eric to jump in with, "Oh my God how can you abandon poetry?!") I guess it is pretty good, but I can't help feeling a bit guilty admitting it in public.

I'm pretty sure I still like writing, though. Maybe I'll go back to fiction...

4:10 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Never fear: I rarely question anyone's desire to stop writing poetry, particularly as I've been wrestling with a particularly thorny one of mine the last few weeks, and would throw in the towel myself if I didn't get such a peculiar satisfaction from finally getting it right.

No, basically I agree that life is short and we must do what pleases us, and try to avoid pursuits that come to be onorous chores. Also that, to the extent that poetry or any artistic craft is just that, a craft, a thing that must be practiced and honed and worked at like carpentry, the value in it for the doer must come from the doing--though often I think there is a sort of nobility in the work itself, the toil. But once the labor becomes, well, laborious, there isn't much there, it's true. Very little reason to keep struggling.

Now, I do believe that poetry, along with a few other things, is the stuff of the gods, that its odd paradox is its being manual labor on one hand and (possibly as a result) spiritual on the other. For me, this makes the work easier, or at least more worthwhile when it isn't any easier at all. (That goes for reading it as well as writing it.) But as someone who has never tried to make a living at writing, preferring instead to earn my wage helping others do that, I can attest that almost no one ever makes a living at writing. And no one, period, makes a living writing poetry.

But I didn't get the sense that you were giving it up for good, Ann--just that you had decided not to keep pursuing it as a career. It seems likely to me that after a (much-needed?) break from it all for a while, you'll return to it for pleasure and rediscover something. Either way, as the poet wrote: you gotta do what you gotta do.

4:37 PM  

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