I’ve had trouble knowing when I’ve done enough in a day, unless I’ve worked myself to exhaustion. What bothers me most is that I try to measure accomplishment against time. It feels cliche, but I wonder, would I criticize a tree for how often it blooms?
— Paul Madonna, All Over Coffee
SEOUL — I REMEMBER ONCE LISTENING to an interview with David Sedaris in which the author said he rose at four o’clock nearly every morning to write. At the time, the idea clashed terribly with my understanding of what it meant to be an artist. Didn’t men and women of the pen simply write when the moment struck them, when they were so filled with beautiful and hilarious dreams that the ink simply spilled forth onto the page? It was perhaps too naive a notion for someone in their late teens, but my pool of literary knowledge had until that point been heavily informed by the likes of Kerouac. Nursing my ambitions with the beat legend’s unhinged poetry, I was convinced that if I simply got out there, the writing would come eventually — perhaps in one sweaty, chemically-fueled marathon session in front of a typewriter.
How things have changed.
It wasn’t until I really began writing myself that I began to grasp the amount of commitment the craft requires. The hours spent hovering, fingers above keys, when nothing seems to inspire. The days wrestling with distraction, as the occupied mind struggles to find adequate room for new stories and angles. And the antidotal self-discipline; that wolfsbane that gives life to wisps of ideas. When I began keeping this blog, demanding of myself and that I post every day and failing amid a hastening schedule, it was made more fully understood that simply waiting for the moment would not suffice.
With all of this in mind, I rose today at five o’clock and began stringing together the words for this very post — and I plan to do this with near daily frequency. Though the hour reflects perhaps less dedication than the humorist who most recently gave us When You Are Engulfed in Flames, I’m hoping it will be sufficient in breaking through this dry spell. Since coming to Seoul I have experienced the meaning of “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” and realized that even when there are, it seems I have hardly the energy to fill them. I’m hoping the morning light will give me the sharpness I need to keep this all going.