I Know Too Much to Stay Quiet
I know good writing from bad. Knowing that (and knowing that) has kept me from pushing these keys for years.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams
I know knowing which ones to keep keeps me from writing. Which is to say, if I never have to decide, I can never be wrong. I’m prone to that, and I’m ashamed of it.
But I’ve been reading. A lot. I’ve been voraciously consuming written material online for so long I can remember arguing with my Middle School English Teachers about alternate measures for satisfying the book-pages reading requirement.
Not as many books as I’d like, and not enough material from authors draped in laurels, but this Internaut reads.
I read about 300 tweets each day. Every tweet that enters my stream enters my consciousness. Then, there’s all the Hacker News posts, and too much of the truly crappy ESPN content. Plus friends’ blogs, well-written blogs, and blogs I love. Newsletters. Finally, I’ve started making an effort to make an hour available each day for reading books.
The problem, for me, with all that reading, is it provokes a torrential stream of counter-arguments that don’t get released in a coherent way. They’re cooped up in my head, circling around like a school of sharks, until a new idea enters my conscious.
I think he better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished. Jonathan Ive, on Steve Jobs’ fostering creativity
New ideas are chum for my sharks. If I don’t set them free, the counter-arguments will (continue to) devour the good stuff. The novelties I encounter. The thing my friend thought of and seeks my advice on. My own stifled creative churning. Yummy shark food.
I gotta write to curb my cynicism. I gotta write so that I can Give It Five Minutes. I gotta write to make space.
I know that if I don’t stop knowing too much— writing down too little— that I’ll end up quiet; the stuff I wanted to say having been eaten by my sharks.
I know too much to stay quiet.