Peace and Quiet


“The Chair on the Hill” © R.L. Herron

A good friend recently asked me why I write.

I get that a lot. Most likely that’s because I’m always writing. I don’t often think about the “why” of it, so it took me several moments to tell him I really don’t know.

He didn’t seem to think it was much of an answer. Probably because it wasn’t.

Writing has been a part of my personal and professional life for so long, it’s second nature. I’ve written essays, technical abstracts, short stories and poetry.

I created a well-respected web site and forum nearly ten years ago. I’ve edited book-length manuscripts, annual reports, editorial columns and web sites.

Through it all, I found the hardest part of any writing effort is the beginning, but not for the reason you might think.

It’s not so much trying to discover something to write about. Quite the contrary. Once I begin, it is often far more difficult to stop. No, the hardest part is overcoming the inertia of my own procrastination.

I was much better at beginning when I had a deadline to meet.

Knowing someone was waiting for my words to be delivered, particularly when that someone could definitely affect my paycheck, gave a certain impetus to the start of the process.

They tell me I’m supposed to be taking it easy now, sitting back and enjoying the peace and quiet, since there are no deadlines.

The photograph above, taken in my back yard, reminds me a lot of how I feel these days. The scene is idyllic but, as in the picture, my chair is often empty.

Peace and quiet is, by definition, peaceful and quiet. It is also, to say the least, rather boring.

To keep the creative juices flowing, and my sanity intact, I think I need a solid deadline to meet.

Got any?

 

4 Responses to “Peace and Quiet”

  1. Gyppo Says:

    Ron,

    Deadlines are funny beasts. Over the years most of mine have been self imposed. Or I thought they were 😉

    But being fully employed, or even part-time, meant I had to fit my writing in as and when I could. Which meant writing like hell in those odd moments.

    Even when I had a regular column in several magazines I usually set myself a target to get a few months ahead, and then set another one when that supply of articles was coming to a close. there’s something of the ‘adrenaline junkie’ in living like this.

    I think some of us need deadlines, and the worst thing which can happen to us is being told “Take your time.” It just kills the mental and physical energy.

    One of the saddest things I know is hearing a busy person say “When I retire I’ll be able to sit back and do absolutely sod-all.” Quite often that person is dead within a year of retiring. After tearing around all their life they don’t know how to do nothing. They can’t master the art of ‘slowing down a little’.

    Self imposed deadlines can be a little more relaxed, but they need to be there, and to be honoured. The only way I will ever ‘retire’ as a writer is if the ideas stop coming, and I don’t like to even think about how empty I might feel if that ever happens.

    ‘Gyppo’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ron Herron Says:

    Peter – I certainly hope this packing paper had some semblance of a masterpiece. No … belay that … I’ll settle for just “good.”

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  3. Peter Wallage Says:

    Agree absolutely, Ron. There’s nothing like a deadline to get you writing.

    I wrote to deadlines, often very tight deadlines, for nearly 60 years. Sometimes when I was away from the office, usually somewhere on the European mainland, there wasn’t time to type the copy and post it. Sometimes there wasn’t even time to type it. I had to dictate it over the phone to a copy taker.

    My editor in those days, like most editors, would forgive a journalist almost anything … except a missed deadline. Missing a deadline, even by five minutes, was a cardinal sin and your name was mud.

    Another thing that keeps you on your toes is the old truism that no matter how good a writer you think you are. and how many awards you’ve won, you’re only as good as the last piece you wrote.

    Yesterday’s masterpiece is tomorrow’s recycled packing paper.

    Peter Wallage

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Parry Says:

    As a ‘doer’, I now find myself as a ‘describer’, writing technical instructions for people to follow. I’m the exact opposite of you though Ron, the pressure’s always about producing the document now,now, now.

    Can’t do that. I need to be in touch with the people who are going to be following the instruction – and making sure that it’s easy to follow, and that they understand why they’re doing what I’m telling them to do.

    “No I don’t think I should take out the page break to make the document shorter – the page break signifies that they’ve achieved one target, now they have to move on to the next”

    I should probably have been fired years ago, but the funny thing is, the people who are using the documents actually like them.

    Regards – John

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