Quality Quantity

When I begin writing posts, I think “How can I make people read this?”

Word choices have to be precisely perfect. Seven word sentences provide the best hook. Two word titles are my personal preference.

35 words and the introduction is complete. I can relook at my title and start saying what I really wanted to say.

I have always had a strong fascination with words – my mother, on the other hand, has an appetence for selcouth words. I like new words, but I’m more interested in holophrasis – the expression of complex ideas in single words.

In fact, one of my desires as a teenager was to compress a powerful sermon down to a simple collection of complex words. I’d simply get up there and say a single sentence. Silence would follow. I’d smile and walk slowly away from the pulpit.

Someone would gasp, realisation dawning. Then another, and another, until the entire congregation understood precisely what I’d meant. People would be amazed, and I’d become a famed preacher who’d write books and solve millennium problems in my ample spare time.

I think that’s the definition of “Dreaming.”

This dream, however, reflects something deeper. The desire is not simply to say less or be famous: the desire is for one thing to be more. And this is about more than just words.

Quite simply it is about quantity over quality.

My phone struggles to text. It takes forever to load and send messages. I get annoyed with it, but I ignore it, because it gives me eventual access to google, my emails and facebook. Sometimes it even makes phone calls.

On compromise, it becomes acceptable.

This compromise becomes the new norm. It begins to permeate through life. My life is measured by hours. My hours are worth dollars. These dollars are valued against the output of said hours. The more per dollar, the better.

This may sound similar to holophrasis – outputs per dollar to ideas per word – but I see it as simple verbosity – using as many extraneous words as possible in a sentence to describe the desired and intended point of said sentence.

So often, I aim for verbosity. 100 posts a year. 50 000 words per book. 8 books per year. 100 visits to the gym. Visit woodhill 12 times a year. Ice skate 12 times a year.

But what is the point if it’s all just shit? I could have 8 novels self-published by the end of the year. But the characters would be stifled. The story would be rough. The scenes would slip away.

There is no point in a 50 000 word novel if all 50 000 words are shit. There is no point in a 100 posts if they are all shit. If all I wanted to do was convert my words to dollars, I’d be ghost-writing erotic fiction – not spending 2 hours extracting words from a whisky-addled soul.

Verbosity doesn’t work. Lots happens, none of it relevant.  I’d rather little happen, all of it relevant. I’d rather be laconic.


Proud Debt

I finally worked up the courage to have a look at where I sit financially.

“In debt” is the simplest answer. $9528.57 of it.

It’s made up of a beyond-the-limit overdraft and credit card, two years of unpaid taxes, four fines, unpaid bills, personal loans, ACC levies and one hire-purchase. What is really scary is this has all materialised in the last two years.

To be fair to myself, this last year has been…overwhelmingly unproductive financially. Fortunately, there are more things to life than money, so I don’t even begin to consider it wasted.

That being said, money does play a vital component to life. There are few things you feel you can do when you can’t afford to do many things, and every cent is watched carefully. Little pleasures – those idiotic things that cause the most instant happiness – now evoke guilt if purchased and tense jaws if not. And when there’s no money coming in but there is money going out, things become even worse.

That’s where I sit right now. And I hate it. I hate owing money, I hate that any money I get in can’t be used – it simply gets pushed straight out to things that have no relevance. And that hatred, that anger, that worry is useless. It still sits there. I have a $10 note – compliments of a t-shirt a stranger bought off Trademe – and I don’t want to use it. Because I’ll feel guilty for spending it on something “frivolous”. And guilt won’t help anything.

A job may sound like the ideal solution: suddenly, there’ll be money coming in. But, once the money is coming in, it’s easier to ignore it. The debts are being paid back slowly, I can buy the frivolous things without concern. The money acts as a barrier between me and the debt. I don’t need to worry about it anymore.

Unfortunately, debt has a habit of growing. Constantly. And, until I do something about it, it’s going to keep sneaking up on me.

I have therefore decided to head into my bank tomorrow and talk to them about a debt consolidation loan. It seems silly to obtain a loan to sort out loans, but it keeps it simpler. It gives me longer to pay it all off, it gives me a way of dealing with my debt that doesn’t involve “turn your head and walk away.”

And, ultimately, it removes a stress I don’t need from my life. If you’ve looked at my goals and dreams for 2014, you’ll see that sorting out my debt is one of the things I want to do this year.

It’s important to sort out the little things in life. To take the little steps that count towards the bigger goal. That’s one of the things my writing has taught me: it’s so easy to have a big goal, start working toward it, and then give up because it seems your goal is not getting smaller.

In all honesty, goals suck. When I finished writing Porsching, I didn’t feel elated – I felt stressed that I’d rushed it. When I finished editing Porsching, I didn’t feel successful – I felt relieved. They were both big goals for me – the editing in particular seemed monstrous. And I had to step back and look at what was going on.

By setting goals, I’d missed out on the little steps. I didn’t celebrate that I wrote 1700 words in the first hour. I didn’t celebrate the day I wrote 8000 words. I didn’t celebrate editing 10 000 words in one day, nor did I celebrate the little changes in one sentence that changed the way the story flowed. I kept aiming for that one point in time, and, when I reached it, all the energy I’d put in felt wasted.

Because the day I finished was a day like any other. I’d achieved this goal that had always seemed huge, but the day felt no different. There was no reason for it to be different. I’d done less work than any other day, I’d put less energy in.

In truth, it felt more like failure.

And so it is scary to think that when my debt is paid off, I’ll be 32. But I know that my last payment will dawn and I’ll pay it off and there’ll be a sense of complete emptiness because it’ll feel no different. Because I’ll forget how I felt today when my heart hammered as I typed in my banking password, because I’ll forget how I’ll feel when I sign the document for the loan. Because those are the days that matter – the days you start, the days you don’t give up, the days you do more than your aim – those are the days to be proud of.