Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Well-Edited Life (Living with Less Series)

I'm working at Panera most of today on my (thank you tiny baby jesus) last comp.

American cinematic masterpiece. For sure.

But I like to start my mornings with something inspirational - a song I love, a quote, a short article - and this morning I found this, from one of my favorite sites, The Minimalists.

Their basic premise here is that when you edit your life, or your writing, or your belongings, or your relationships consciously and down to what truly matters, you give those things more meaning.

This isn't to say that a 900-page book is full of superfluous writing, but that a 200-page book can be just as meaningful, and perhaps easier to get the full meaning.

This line in particular really spoke to me:

"Sure there’s an infinite amount of materials with which to build our lives, but sometimes the best way to build is to subtract. The best lives are often well-edited, carefully curated lives."

There are infinite "things" in life, but often the best way to really enjoy life to the fullest is to subtract.

So I started thinking about my writing, which is a HUGE part of my life. I mean, I basically, in the next 3 years, have to finish this comp, present my research to the department and...oh yeah...write a book. And I write on the side here, and write conference papers, and write book chapters, and basically just write and read the vast majority of the time I'm awake.

I'm that kid who reads the cereal box at breakfast. I can't help it.

But when I got to thinking about it, I realized that I write like I live. I physically and mentally can't write a 5-page paper...unless it was supposed to be a 2-page one. My comps are supposed to be about 35 pages each, and so far I've turned in a 35-page one (for the professor who made me cut out so much stuff in every paper for him, and has improved my writing exponentially), a 55-page one, a 42-page one (for the professor who told me, after the fact, that 10 or 15 pages would have been fine...), and the last one is shaping up to be around 45.

I tend to make an outline, and get really organized...and then just kind of lose focus until I panic and, luckily, churn out relatively good stuff.

When I write anything, it's filled with information, with page-long footnotes, with more than is required, with good work but a lot of it, an almost overwhelming amount.

Does this make me an overachiever?

Or too cluttered?

I have a bad habit of using 10 words when 3 would suffice. Although at this point I'm really just writing words down and hoping they make sense, since I have to be done with this last one in 15 days and I just want to start on my own research, and it's pass/fail so it doesn't have to be my masterpiece, but I think I'm going to try to start writing more selectively, or at least more consciously.

This entire year has been about evaluating my life. When you're in your 20's, things you do are just things you do - but I feel like the closer I get to 30, the more those things aren't just habits, they're a part of who I am.

I've been editing my friends. Which sounds really awful, but I want, and deserve, to be surrounded by people who add something to my life and who I can do the same for.

I've been editing my possessions.

I've been editing my experiences, trying to commit only to the things I really want to, while at the same time not hermit-ing up.

I've been editing my health, adding in things that make me feel better (running, walking, eating healthier, skin care) and subtracting things that don't (junk food, lack of sleep, excess drinking, sleeping with my makeup on).

**I'm only marginally ashamed at the vast number of fitness quotes I've pinned and look at daily for inspiration. I am not an inspirational quote kind of girl, but I'm also not a running without being chased by zombies kind of girl, so I guess it works. 

And now I need to edit my writing, which is my profession for all intents and purposes. The better I get at writing now, the more capable of a writer and researcher and teacher I am now, the better chance I have of getting that job that makes me happy and allows me to do what I love.

I'm not perfect (oh boy), and I don't want to be, but I do want to try to focus on what's important, both personally and doing the thing I love most of all (no matter how much I bitch about it) - writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment