Purging to a Greater Good

In anticipation of the inevitable post-retirement downsizing, I’ve been shedding materials ‘curated’ (collected, hoarded) over the decades. Starting with hundreds of fanzines (comic book, comic strip, SF, movies), I’ve lifted a physical and emotional weight out of my life for a greater good. They all went to the University of Calgary SF and comic collection. I disposed of them in one fell swoop without throwing them in the landfill, thus keeping them together for interested popular culture scholars and researchers. And not having to eke them out the door through ebay and the like, one at a time over a lonnnggg time.

What has this to do with writing? Each time I remove a nagging distraction, my mind should be freed up to create. Are there piles of old ephemera clogging up my brain? How does one purge the mind? Empty the distractions?

Meditation teaches the discipline of focus. Creating new, more vibrant memories overprints the old ones, beneficial if the old ones have too many negative emotional threads. I want passionate, positive memories, not passionate angries-the-blood non-productive deflections from a path of creativity and serenity. Anxiety isn’t the friend of the writer. Not this writer, anyway. And being p’d off at the daily demonstrations of stupidity doesn’t help either. Not my own lapses in judgment, the seemingly unrelenting, rant-inducing dumb stuff which organizations supposedly running the infrastructure display.

The brilliant consequence of being a writer allows me to vent, through character, if needed but even better, the Zen of immersion during the putting ideas to word is itself a purge. How often when we’re writing do we suddenly notice the clock on the bottom right of the screen and realize, “Holy crap, I’ve been at this for two hours?”? The distractions which may’ve seemed like a block when I sat down at the keyboard have been replaced by ‘prose from nowhere’. Like J.G. Ballards’ “The Wind From Nowhere”, the important consideration isn’t where it came from (the prose or the breeze), but where it takes me.

Back to the hoard. I never get to disappointed when story ideas which appear brilliant at initial conception don’t get used or pan out. I refuse to hoard them. I may write a summary out on a 3x5 file card, carefully store in with all the other unused ideas and rarely look at it again. There are two lessons I’ve learned about ideas. 1. More will come, no need to ‘curate’ them in a shrine; and 2. The good ones will pop back out of my subconscious while I’m writing. The important process for me is to use ‘em or lose ‘em. The mind is a tap, I keep it open to keep the ideas flowing.

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