A Series of False Starts

For the last few weeks, I’ve been extremely productive, writing almost every day another update for my time-travel blog, a couple articles for World’s Best Media, and some writing/editing on my other not ready to publish work.  Today wasn’t so productive.  I finished off an article for World’s Best Media, but beyond that, I had nothing.

I didn’t know what to do today. I tried working on a post for my time-travel blog but nothing came to me, so I thought about other things to write about.  Today in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and here on WordPress (I write different things in different word processing options) I started probably four or five ideas that eventually ended like a deflating balloon.

If this were a montage in a film, it would have been me writing at a typewriter, crumpling a page up, throwing it out, and starting over again.  The only difference is that when you’re writing electronically, you don’t have the satisfaction, or visceral expression of your frustration that crumpling paper comes with.

I probably wrote five-ten solid pages of information (excluding the one article I managed to finish) that amounted to absolutely nothing.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a waste bin filled with little balls of failure.  That probably sounds good right? Why would I want those little balls reminding me that I got nothing done?  Because, ultimately failure isn’t the problem, it’s part of the process, but it can be a motivating part, it can be a satisfying part once success bleeds through, but digitally there isn’t that same feeling.

In addition to writing, this is something I miss about pre-digital photography.  Sure, it’s great that I know I got a shot of my son doing something fun, or whatever, but when site seeing or doing something else that I wanted to see or do, there was an element of surprise to photography.  There was a feeling of “oh yeah, I forgot about these” when you’d find your old rolls of film and go get them developed, along with a sense of “oh that’s a good one,” or “oh that one sucks,” or “I forgot about that!”

I know, I probably sound like one of those old people who laments all new things, but I’m not.  There are definitely a lot of great aspects of this digital world we live in, and I’m definitely a user of it, but from an achievement standpoint, there doesn’t feel like there is anymore sense of achievement as a user.  It’s no big deal to take 1000 photos to get the right one, because we have virtually unlimited space and memory.  (My first trip to Italy, I have like 15 pictures of the black Venice sky, because there was a thunderstorm and my uncle really wanted me to get a picture of the lightning.  I have kept them as a reminder.)

Truthfully, 95% of the time, I’m really happy that I can have a do-over, but days like today, I wish I had a series of crumpled paper failure balls to say “well you did something at least.”  After 10,000 attempts at creating a light bulb, Thomas Edison is quoted as saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  I’ve probably had 1000 false starts in my life (totally guessing at that number) and maybe half of them are page long scribbles in notebooks, and I like going back and looking at those 500 scribbles that didn’t work.


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