“Mr. Alcott seems to be reading well this winter: Plato, Montaigne, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Sir Thomas Browne, etc., etc. ‘I believe I have read them all now, or nearly all,’ — those English authors. He is rallying for another foray with his pen, in his latter years, not discouraged by the past, into that crowd of unexpressed ideas of his, that undisciplined Parthian army, which, as soon as a Roman soldier would face, retreats on all hands, occasionally firing backwards; easily routed, not easily subdued, hovering on the skirts of society.” — Henry David Thoreau, Emerson – Thoreau Letters (VI-X) 1848
Lately I seem to have drifted away from Thoreau. It’s not a deliberate act, mind you, but a full life. Like close friends, sometimes you drift apart, sometimes closer together. Everything has its time. Like those old friends, when you meet up with Henry again you pick up right where you left off.
It seems my own creative writing is a lot like Alcott’s was in his day. I revisited some old characters yesterday, rallying for another foray with my own pen. Thoreau’s observation is keen, and as with my rowing friend who inspected my hand to see how much rowing I’d really been doing, the results show far more than a few casual statements about production ever will. We are what we repeatedly do, aren’t we?
With that in mind, I began again. I’ve always been a streak hitter, and do my best when I have a simple goal of doing something every day without stopping. This blog is as good of an example of that as any, approaching five years of posting every day. It’s a lot like flossing before you brush your teeth—once firmly established as part of your identity you don’t easily let it go. Writing a blog is now easy for me, in a way, in that I simply do it straight away or it nags at me all day until I carve out the time to get it done. You have the right to judge the contribution each day, but not the will to get it out there in the world.
The thing is, that clever observation Henry made to “Waldo” in that letter stings a bit when you don’t follow through. We’ve got to follow through on the things that are most important to us, or forever be judged undisciplined by that voice in the back of our head. Do the work, every day, until the work is done. The rest is just talk.