For some reason, I am having a heck of a time thinking of what to blog about. I've had plenty of ideas but either don't feel inclined to pursue them or - by the time I do - they have become a lot less immediately relevant.
Everything - ha! well, besides the blog - is churning along at a chaotic and uneven rate, but still moving forward. I've been volunteering with a local group related to writers and books lately, and the project we've been working on has nearly come to fruition, but it has been taking a lot of time over the past couple of weeks. I think it is worthwhile, though: I'm proud of what we're doing and I have definitely been able to make a lot of connections with local writer, editor, and publicity types (I had virtually none before). Now, whether this will help me as I work towards getting published I don't know, but at least I am becoming part of the community, and that can't be a bad thing.
I just finished up The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin by Richard Lourie, which was pretty interesting: it's a novel but - as the title suggests - written as though by Stalin, with the central concern his long-standing feud with Leon Trotsky. Anyway, one part struck me: as a younger man, before the Revolution, Stalin was exiled numerous times to Siberia by the Tsarist police. Exiles in Siberia back then weren't actually imprisoned; they lived in tiny villages with the locals and had to hunt and fish to feed themselves. Escape was generally easy. Boredom was the big thing everyone had to deal with.
"Stalin" (the narrator of this book) writes that while he was there, rather than do everything in his power to stave off the boredom - as most prisoners did - he embraced it, sought the greatest boredom and solitude possible, and came to develop a tremendous tolerance for it.
As "he" tells it, he did this because he knew it would serve him well in at least two ways when he returned to his Bolshevik colleagues. First, it would give him the patience for long committee meetings, arguments, and negotiations. Second, it allowed him to volunteer for and perform all the tedious jobs for the party - personnel issues and record-keeping, for instance - that were unglamorous and things nobody really wanted to do, but which were necessary and allowed him to build his network and consolidate power.
For obvious reasons, I do not want to overextend this analogy, but I quickly realized that there were some skills I had that this group I am volunteering for desperately needed, and we are not talking about the more glamorous or interesting stuff. So I made myself indispensable simply by taking on the shit jobs. We shall see, like I said, whether it pays off.
I know myself well enough to know that I am not much of a schmoozer, or a guy who makes an especially warm or memorable impression in social situations (though this depends on the situation I guess). But in my experience working with people is the way to get to know them, and most (not all, but most) people who work with me wind up liking me because if nothing else I am conscientious.
(A small subset of people do not work well with me, and these tend to be the types who see themselves as "visionaries" rather than doers. They seem to think they are the "idea people" - even though their ideas are rarely that great - that their pontificating is actually a valuable service, and that once they have provided that service it is the workhorse types like me who should then make their ideas reality. No, I do not work well with that type. But this is definitely the subject of a different post.)
Anyway, this is all pretty vague, and I apologize for that, but were this blog under my real name I probably wouldn't be able to write any of this at all, so there you go. This volunteer activity has been consuming a lot of time and energy lately, and is perhaps the primary cause of my crappy blog week last week, so it's been on my mind.
And now I shall bring this stream-of-consciousness to a close and hope some new idea for a post hits me by Tuesday night, or else you will all be punished once again with another post like this one.