I don’t really post a lot to this blog each day, if you think about it.
I look at posts on other blogs, and so many of them are much, much longer. They go into far more detail than I do, and are often far more rich works.
I cannot help it. I deal in miniatures.
Yet often, when I look at those blogs, I notice that many times, they peter out. Yes, there will be a long, long entry, but then weeks, sometimes months go by without another entry. And in some cases, I notice that the entry I read is from long ago, and that the writer has abandoned the blog, which always saddens me.
My essays and stories are almost never more than 1,000 words—most clock in at 500 or so. (about a single spaced printed page)—and I just don’t seem to shoot for longer essays written over a number of days.
Even if I did, however, the fact would remain: I write somewhere between 500 and 1000 words a day for publication. And as I said, it really doesn’t feel like that much when I write it.
But it adds up.
One of the things that I’m trying to do, not just with my writing, but with my life, is to view it not as one isolated day after another, but as blocks of days, months, and years. So often, living in the daily mosaic of my life, I fail to pull back and see the overall pattern that I’m designing.
If I write 500 words a day, I shall write 182,500 words a year, which is the equivalent of about three books. Because I often write a bit more than 500 word essays, I probably shall post somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 words.
And that’s just counting these essays. If I include my journal entries and letters to friends, it will clock in closer to 350,000, perhaps even more.
It just doesn’t feel like that from day to day. In the mornings, I tap out these words, and then go about my business. I’m reminded of Anthony Trollope, who wrote exactly 2,000 words each morning, often stopping in the middle of sentences. If he finished a book in the middle of his writing sessions, he wrote “The End,” and then immediately went to work on the next.
One thing about striving to live in the moment is that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that life is about many, many moments, one after another. They add up, whether it’a a destructive habit, such as smoking, or a constructive one, such as exercise. Projects take many such moments to get to completion, and it’s so hard, at times, to view that small set of tasks that we do each day as a contribution to that larger project.
Yet…it adds up.
A while back, I was working on something, and my girlfriend Megan said something infinitely wise—as she often does—that has stayed with me: be the water on the rock. Yes, it’s possible to split a rock with a chisel, but often that rock is far too big to split it right then and there with a couple of blows. Furthermore, with the immediacy of this action, it’s almost impossible to give much thought to the way that those pieces might fly apart.
Yet the Grand Canyon came into being by drops of water. These drops were little daily tasks, barely noticeable.
It added up.
It’s just so difficult to believe that these small things add up to big things. And this is the reason that we occasionally need to pull back from the task that we’re doing that day, and think about the bigger project of which that day’s task is a small part. It is so difficult to look back, and realize that these daily tasks have forged a path toward a goal.
So nothing big to write today. Just a small set of words, a few drops of daily sentences and paragraphs among the hundreds of thousands of words that I have written, and shall write. Some of them will merely be the words that I get out of the way to get to the better words. Some, however, shall be words that lead to other words, which, in turn, may even lead to bigger projects, with more words.
And it all starts here, from day to day, tapping out one letter after another. It is about one drop of water, and the next, and the next after that.
It adds up.