So this entry may be a bit ego puffing and thus annoying. Be warned, I’m talking about a topic that I feel I have an aptitude in, writing, and one that I aspire to be good at: physics. If I am getting too pretentious or annoying just remember that if you were to ask me to say anything (I really mean anything) in Japanese, I will not be able to do it, and I have lived here for 2 years. Hell, I don't even know how particles work and that is basic grammar. I suck in that area, so I don’t talk about it: because I’m an egomaniac and only talk about what I am good at.
Few people know this, but for the past year or so I have been working on a book. Let's get this out of the way right here and now, at absolutely no point are any of you allowed to ask me how the book is coming. That clear? Good, well I have always written very frequently in my life. I find writing to be relaxing and cleansing. That is how I sum up my opinion of writing: I write for me. I have many short stories, starts of books, ends of books, letters, free writing exercises, and essays around on my computer that I can honestly say are not meant for public consumption, partly because of content, partly because they are incomplete, and partly because of the narrative (I know exactly what I am talking about, but readers would not).
Yet, they served their purpose. I write to think about ideas. I am, first and foremost, an essayist. As such, I essay. I write to affirm my beliefs and explore my mind. When I am tired of thinking about an idea, or have come to my conclusions, I put the idea away. So when I am tired of a story, it gets filed away too. Perhaps I will pick it back up, perhaps not. That is what works for me.
This is also why I tend not to talk about the fact that I am writing. I have known way too many people that were “writing a book” only to abandon the idea approximately 30 seconds after they say that. Months later when you ask them how it is going, they look at you like a cow looks at an oncoming train. Finally remembering that they were, in fact, once writing a book they explain why they stopped and “started a band instead”. Sometimes it seems that everyone is writing a book that they are not really interested in finishing. Because of my belief that writing is for me, I was in danger of exploring the idea as much as I choose to explore it and stopping. I did not want to be one of those “writing a book people” so I did not tell anyone.
I have a friend who recently wrote and is in the process of writing more books, and another that is working on one. They said it was really soul affirming and hard. Each is trying to get it published, or refining it to the point where they are willing to show it to other people. That got me thinking about the idea of writing for someone else. Essentially, that is what wanting to be published is about. It is a desire for other’s to see your work (and make some coin). I do not mean this in a purely egotistical way. After all, part of the reason I update my blog so often is I want others to read it. It serves a practical purpose that people can catch up on my life and I do not have to repeat stories so often, but, if I am being completely honest, I also just want people to read my writing. I like people see and comment on my ideas and experiences. Is that egotistical? Probably. But I do not think it is necessarily a bad kind of egotism.
I have not written for someone else for about six-seven years. My last two years in college my Rhetoric and Composition classes were about writing for me, and I applied that philosophy to other classes. I wrote the way I wanted to about what I wanted to and loosely fit it into the criteria of the assignments (my pro-wrestling “story/argument” about competing moral philosophies in ancient Greece comes to mind). So I have not produced anything that was not meant for me in a long time. I decided to change that, so I wrote a book.
The thing about my experience was, it wasn’t hard. I always hear it is really hard to write a book, or that there is a massive feeling of accomplishment at the end. Neither seemed true for me. Maybe I am just doing it wrong, because I found it easy, and I don’t feel any different. I have done far more difficult things than write a book. I have always found writing easy. I think I have an aptitude for it, and others have said so as well. This is probably why I often shy away from it. I would rather work in physics and mathematics; were I am admittedly slapped around: accomplishments feel more accomplish-y that way. I have never really had writer’s block, but I have definitely had physicist’s block. One is a struggle, and the other is an escape.
Currently, I am working on the sequel. The grand goal is a trilogy. Trilogies practically write themselves. The story is currently 280 single spaced pages long, the sequel is maybe a third to little under half done at 119 pages. I consider the first a work in progress until I am done with the third, so it is likely to grow by a few pages, but, for all major purposes, it is finished. In order to complete the exercise I will attempt to have the series published, but I shy away from doing so until I have finished the entire work. Should I stumble on a new idea, I do not want to have to ret-con it later.
I look back and am somewhat indifferent that I was able to write a book. A while back Brian, some of his Japanese friends, Dan, Cathy and I all went to Osaka Castle Park and played Frisbee. I became interested in how the Frisbee rolled once it hit the ground, so over the next week or so I worked the physics of the problem. I used Hamilton-Lagrange mechanics, but even with the energy short cuts inherent (rather than a Newtonian approach) it was a rough problem for me. It took about a week of looking at it and calculating and recalculating but I worked out the following equation:
g(sec θ)^2 – (α) (r) = 0
such that g is the gravitational constant, θ is the angle the disk makes relative to the ground, r is the radius of the disk, and α is the angular acceleration of the top of the disk as it falls through an arc terminating at the ground. I believe the problem is done. I will graph it to see any odd behavior, and run a few numbers to see if it is reasonable.
To me, that equation fills me with more pride than my writing. Compared to the 400 or so pages I have written on the novels plus the 230 of this blog plus the random stories and short stories I’ve cranked out, the five pages or so of mathematical success and failures I went through to figure out the above equation strikes me as more impressive. I don’t know why that is. I think it just comes down to I don’t think writing is hard, and this physics was a struggle, it was soul affirming, I wanted to give up, I got stuck, and it was difficult. I never simply could not write the book. I never had to start over or scrap an idea. I never had to dig deep into what I truly know and do not know. I never swore because it wasn’t working. I never thought I should give up because it was beyond me. I never asked myself if I was smart enough to see it through.
Like I said; one is an accomplishment and the other is an escape.
Perhaps I will explore this idea more in an essay (ohh the irony).