An attempt (failed) to produce ten pages of hand written text every day for a week


Second attempt

Day One

O.K. second attempt. It feels like there is some kind of pressure on me now. Something more than just the pressure of trying to remember all of the points I tried to make in my first attempt at writing ten pages of something everyday for a week. I do not know if I made any points in my last effort, or I at least don’t know if any of them are points worth remembering and re-writing re-pointing. Perhaps I will say the same things anyway; it does already feel like I’m waffling. Nonsensical irrelevances designed to seem casually thoughtful yet to also remain sufficiently abstruse so as to avoid my having to really think or give anything about myself away. Could I just fill in every page with random words? The same word? Heck does it need to even be a word? Or does dragging a

pen over a page without forming shapes that are recognizable as letters and words fail to constitute writing? Is that closer to drawing? What’s the difference? It’s still mark making in order to symbolically express something within my thoughts. Still, it would feel like cheating though. Maybe the content, or, rather, the meaning of the content is irrelevant. The content is all that matters. As long as I produce ten pages of writing each and every day (no more, no less) for a whole week, then I will have succeeded, I will have achieved something that I have never done before, and in more ways than one. While I have never actually, physically, practically written that much every day for a week, on a much larger front, I have never fully completed any goal I have set for myself in terms of work production. I always fail to put ideas into action or simply stop doing them before completion.

Whether this is more indicative of the poor quality of my ideas or just my overtly lazy work ethic, I can not say, although I do have a strong suspicion that both are contributing factors. But I can push them to one side, I have to push them to one side because I’m frustrated by my continual inability to do anything. I can sit around for hours and think about everything that, if I had the time, I would do, (and how well, oh, how well I do things in my thoughts) but I never do them. I think for a long time I have been scared by the notion that if I were to do something then I would be immediately setting myself up for ridicule and failure and so as to avoid failing I tried to hide in academia and research. Unfortunately, that failed too because I never do any reading or academic practice. It all comes down to sitting, thinking,

perhaps dreaming about these contradictory positions! I think that if I were to make some work, that it would be of an outstanding quality but I convince myself not to do it because it will be a failure! What ever the result, I now know that what makes me feel like more of a failure is the fact that I don’t do it. I don’t do anything. Nothing. So by doing this, I’m already trying to overcome my shortcomings and, if I make it through all 70 pages, then I think I will have proved something to myself. What, exactly, remains to be seen. But I have begun, mark that, I have begun. Admittedly, I began this project previously and was probably just as purposeful in my striving as I am now. But, by God, I need to do this. I sure as shit need to do something, anyway. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter what anything is really. Just fucking do. To do is to be. For now, I accept this as

true. I should not stop writing. As soon as I think about starting again I am troubled by the thought of what to write. I begin to construct grand notions of philosophical treatises and world renowned fictional masterpieces. My vanity is excruciating. The point of this endeavour is not recognition, self-improvement, accomplishment, it is merely to do. And how self absorbed must I be to consider that my idiotic ramblings would even be read, let alone celebrated. How can a pen go from perfect flow to scratchy inklessness in the space of an hour’s lying on my desk? New pen, new piece of writing, same mind, same nonsense. Perhaps their is no stopping or starting, the action of putting pen to paper is nothing greater than the process of making my thoughts, which never really stop (I don’t mean for that to sound high-minded. If it does) of making them legible. At least a part of them. I don’t suppose

that it would ever be truly possible to put all of one’s thoughts down. All thought is essentially abstract and free, therefore any attempt to render it communicable acts primarily as a hindrance. The non-linear, shapeless and noiseless must be pared down to to recognisable and understandable. Any act of doing is concerned in some way with communication, even if it be communication with one’s self. And for communication to function, accepted, recognisable modes must be used. It is a creative process. In fact, it is a creative rendition of the ultimate creative process: Thinking. All conscious action stems from thought processes, it brings everything into being, even the non-existent. Or at least I think it does. Or at least I think I do. I think: I do. I feel somewhat stuck now. Six pages in and I’m stuck! I have begun to try to make all of my thoughts viable

for inclusion in these pages. Not necessarily in terms of editing out unpleasantries, vulgarity or libellousness but in trying to make them clever, insightful and literary. As you may have guessed, they are not. I now need to keep a clear track of non-thought down which I can travel whilst also continuing to write. Will all of this project be about what I am doing in the project – will it only refer to itself? – which might be enough for these initial pages when I’ve still got everything to write for but I can’t keep it up for 70 pages can I, surely it will run out of topics or run into repetition in a very short time. I think, rather that following a path of non-thought, I should, perhaps, think carefully and in detail about specific topics before committing any conclusions into the written word. Which really does put the pressure on, don’t it? Maybe I could

stream my consciousness all over these pages in the hope of losing myself in the present and subsequently finding myself in the past through re-reading my mind laid bare. After all, it worked for the Beats. I know I am not a beat, nor am I a writer, really, but there must be some truth in their model. As Kerouac said, all clichés are true-isms and all true-isms are true. So I should just go for it, right? Blast through my mind-fist connection to a landscape of written me-ness so I might discover what constituent me is really real and true. Or do I need to find a truth that is true for me? Should I have got to know myself before I started this project, at least enough to have something worth saying! But then I would most definitely be falling into my usual trap of avoiding doing through wilful stagnation. So do! – Procrastination is

like masturbation, it seems like a good idea at the time but you just end up fucking yourself. That needs to go on my gravestone. An epitaph. People, especially younger persons, will, I should think, have some of the best epitaphs (when they die, of course) having spent so vast a portion of their lives updating their statuses and generally telling anyone who might care to listen what they think. They have a wealth of pre-made slogans to emblazon across their tombs. Or maybe it’s the very opposite? Perhaps they will have said so much, revealed so many things and changed their minds so very often that there will be nothing left to leave to those who’re left! Here lies so-and-so, they have nothing more to say. But then get at me! I’m linking all my pointless thoughts together into one poorly scripted piece of writing. Fool. My handwriting is pretty poor isn’t it? But then all of the

cleverest people have illegible hand-writing do they not? Doctors do, dentists do, scientists do, philosophers do. They do, they do it with poor handwriting too. Either I’m in good company or I’m both sharp enough and gullible enough to pull the wool over my own eyes. At least it’ll be warm and I might, budgie-like, get some rest. Stop thinking about what’s on the outside, about people looking in and convince myself that the opinions of others very rarely have any bearing on one’s life and no one is going to read this anyway. Stop worrying, focus on your responsibilities, get some rest (we’ve got a long day tomorrow) and play the time according to your own rhythm. It never stops, but you can choose what to listen to and what to ignore. What to put down and what to pick up. What to want to communicate and everything otherwise.

Day Two

Time, a concept I’m sure you’re all familiar with. A human construct, built around the regular movements of planets and stars and the changes that these have wrought on our world and consciousness, it is, nevertheless, entirely transient, almost non-existent and yet so completely in control of our lives that it cannot be avoided for long. It may be changed or it may be appreciated in varying ways, depending on one’s mindset and the situation one fines oneself in. But it keeps on going. Anyone who says that humans have no concept of death, need only consider the concept of time to it’s fullest extent. O.K. I need to revise this. We all have a concept of death that is instinctive, we see dead people and we recognise that their time has come to an end and that,

subsequently, our own time must be finite too. A difficult thing to handle as the actual being of death, the physical, mental act of being dead is completely out of our grasp. Our world and any knowledge we have of it is based purely on our perceptions and experiences, so the act of being dead, a process which would appear to be devoid of perceptions, is surely not able to be known and understood by living humans. Therefore, we do not die. I am immortal till the day I die. I think it was Wittgenstein, maybe, who said that death is not an experience. And I suppose he was right. The main problem is (forgive me if this feels disjointed or if my thoughts do not follow any kind of progression; it would seem that when following my

thoughts in a naturalistic and stream of consciousness time manner, I am wont to digress, but then as Sterne said, digressions are the best part of reading [or something to words of that effect] but he did, or rather, Tristram did said that “Time wastes too fast” and he was on the ball in that point as, beginning with time, as I did, my point was to elucidate on the fact that as I am at work tomorrow and Thursday – and was when I began writing this morning – I am almost certainly going to struggle in my time management to do what I am responsibly required to do and to do what I am personally attempting to do in this project) that I am struggling to find the time. Time is indeed flighty and fleeting. Could I be putting

my time to better, more productive use? I could be saving children, feeding the poor and homeless, building schools in Africa, volunteering in other developing countries, clearing litter off the streets, fighting oppression and injustice. Fuck, I could be doing anything other than this. But then, no matter what I am doing, I could always be doing something else. And in some people’s eyes, surely regardless of what one is doing, something more productive or worthwhile could be on the cards, could it not? So is this enterprise worthwhile in some way? Any way at all? And if it is of no use what so ever then should I desist in it? I certainly feel like it is something that I have to do and I do enjoy it, once I get over the fear and the preoccupation with having to do

something meaningful. It feels like an escape of sorts, but something different to the escape from consciousness that drugs or escapement entertainment may offer. This is an escape into something, not escape from anything. Into myself. Know thy self, someone once wrote, or said and it seems like a sound idea, I must admit. And I do feel like I’m getting there. I don’t think I’m getting closer to the ‘real’ me (whatever that may be) nor do I feel as though I’m uncovering any heretofore unknown universal truths. But I do feel like something close to acceptance of one form or another is beginning to seep into my bones. Momentarily, I stop chasing whatever I’m after, I put down that gun and start to see myself in a more peace-

ful way. I don’t have to be a great success, nor do I have any need for wealth nor fame. I wouldn’t mind them, just as I wouldn’t mind being extremely talented or handsome; I’m sure that they must bring their own special benefits. But so too must they bring burden. But then doesn’t everything? Fernando Pessoa and or Bernardo Soares. They knew what it was all about. Despite the fact that Soares cannot even make of himself stood at his window a suitable picture, all I can take from his writing (or maybe it’s Pessoa’s) is the idealised, romanticised imagery of a man who can write, think, act and miss sleep without consequence. How free and enjoyable his stilted, lonely and melancholy life appears! However uninterested, overdramatic, whiney, petulant, immature or down-right

gloomy his life and his appreciation of life becomes, it is still, as far as I know, a perfect life. It is a fictional, constructed life and therefore devoid of everything that actually makes life dull and infuriating. I find no poetic solitude in waking in the middle of the night, I find no eloquent existential musings within my solitudinous amblings, I find no spark of the divine or peaceful acceptance of humanistic foibles in my fear. I only find myself. And to be honest, it is usually me who inflicts these negative aspects upon me. My dislike of people or large rounds of company stems from my own insecurities, my own lack of self belief becomes the bar aginst which I judge other people’s self-worth to be too high. I try to subdue anything too overboard with the thought that everyone is

insecure. Indeed, coming into the world knowing nothing and never learning anything close to what is available for learning, how can we not be insecure, adrift, as we are, in a sea of constant ignorance? But people seem so good at being confident and proud and happy and cock-sure that I sometimes find it can be difficult to believe myself. Perhaps I am just lacking in self-belief. Or everyone is extremely good at pretending. Maybe our biggest survival skill is pretence. We have no natural weapons and much of the effort we make in our self preservation – our cars, clothes, hair, choice of partner, place of inhabitation, etc, blah – are all show. All mouth and no trousers. Whatever that means. I would have thought that lacking suitable attire about one’s nether extremities

would have a decidedly subduing effect on one’s mouthyness. It would be an interesting social experiment, and not too far removed from some of the things anyone might see on a night out on the town. Julian Baggini wrote about it in his extremely entertaining book Welcome to Everytown. I should purchase more of his stuff. Easy way in and all that. Impass. Writer’s block. Creative block. I often tell my students that the best thing to do, when stuck with their work, is to simply keep going, to keep on keeping on, not necessarily like a bird that flew but to make something, anything, as it still counts as progress and will eventually result in something of worth. To stop is the worst thing to do. If you stop then you don’t go nowhere. You never progress and nothing will ever get

made. I realise that it is very easy to say this and much harder to do in practice. Which is why much of what I have done so far (in this project and in my life generally) has been of such a standard. No doubt it will continue in much the same way. I never know where this is going (the project and my life) and so everything that I do, if I ever get round to doing anything, always has the impression of ill-directed, not-fully-thought-out experiment. It may be that this is a much more exciting way to live than having a clear idea of what each day is going to bring (in fact, just the thought of that scares the shit out of me) but sometimes I think I’d really like to know what I was doing, to know what I was on about, do it and say it well and have the confidence too.

Day Three

The more I progress through this project, this prolonged and, at times, seemingly meaningless exorcise, the less it feels like a creative process. Perhaps having too rigid parameters is an anti-creative standpoint. But am I not free within these parameters to write whatever I please? I am, after all, only doing this to please myself; I know full well that this process will not alter the course of my life, it will not alter my understanding or appreciation of anything, nor (and perhaps most tellingly) will anybody ever read it. In fact I would probably not read much of it myself if it were not just to make sure I’d actually done it. And in another fact, I would probably feel quite ashamed if anyone were to read it. So where, if

anywhere, does the creativity in this lie? And what, if I may ask, is creativity anyway? A large enough question, no doubt, and one that I don’t feel capable of answering, not at least in the pages that I have left. Actually, I don’t think I could ever give a conclusive, definite answer to such a question. I can, though, give a wealth of opinionated and poorly thought out bunkum. Hooray for me. About creativity. It would seem to have a great deal to do with human enterprise, making things, whether for entertainment, utility, aesthetics, communication or whatever purpose you may wish to put something to. The whole of human productivity, for whatever end, from the beginning of existence is creativity. It is that continual, ever evolving drive within us all to question who we are and to make

something in response to that essentially unfathomable question. It needs no purpose other than to help us get through our days. Songs are just something to waste your time, I listen to yours and you listen to mine, before we know it the day’s gone by. Songs are just something to waste your time. So’s anything else to do, whatever makes you feel fine. Writing these pages doesn’t make me feel fine. It tires me out, it bores me and frustrates me. So why do I do it? I am just going round in circles, moving no closer to having a real reason for doing this. I am tired. It’s 10.30 in the p.m. and I would like to go to bed. I don’t believe in my convictions. I don’t trust my drive. Maybe I see all too clearly the pointlessness of this exorcise. Others would do it easily though. And better. And then they’d take it to

someone and do something with it and the whole enterprise will have been worth the tiredness, the boredom, the faux existential angst and the aching hand. But I won’t make anything of this, even if by next week I have 70 pages full of my writing. Perhaps that is my problem, I don’t see things through, I barely even start most things. Do I just want to be like someone else? Have I seen or read about or been introduced to someone whose success I have turned into a model for my own aspirations? I can’t believe that there is a rational explanation for my wanting to an “artist” when I clearly see that nothing will ever come of it, nor do I ever have the commitment to actually make or do anything worthwhile. It’s just pretend. I’m trying to fit in with a certain way

of being in order to gain acceptance from people whom I believe, for one reason or another, to be greater than the hoi polloi. I want to stand out, to be exceptional, to be something special because I can not take the crushing ordinariness that absolutely everything, even my idols and highest hopes, is made out of. I am the direct centre of average, ordinary nothingness, and it really frightens me. I have nothing to prove to anyone and who I am was proven to me years ago. Maybe I have my nothingness to prove. But even that would require an absolutely startling and completely uncharacteristic burst of something that I will never have the ability nor the conviction to perform.           Is it or would it be cheating to copy out pages of text from things that I have written previously?

I suppose I would have to find a piece of writing of a sufficient quantity and quality and be so very sure that I couldn’t ever put the sentiment in abetter way. I probably couldn’t. I have a poor ability to recall information other than visually. So I can recall where I was, the place and surroundings and so forth, when I wrote a piece but I will struggle forever to recall precisely what I was aiming to express in the writing. And surely I am not the same person as I was when I wrote the piece. I have grown wiser and dumber and modified myself so as to fit into the space and time that I currently occupy. So to copy a piece, even, would to do a disservice to my current thought processes and would change the original meaning of the piece to fit a new mould. It would certainly be

easier though. At least from a conceptual point of view. I wouldn’t have to think about what I was writing. Of course I would think about what I was writing and would in all likelihood disagree with my earlier self and be desirous of changing it. In which case, I might as well have written something new to begin with. What if I were to copy the work of someone else? I have already quoted some people in this project so why couldn’t I take long parts of the literature which means so much to me and reproduce it? I would be able to put my my points across in far better way than I ever could myself and I would also have the added bonus of being able to hide behind a greater person than myself. But then the whole project would be

completely negated. I might as well simply sit and read my favourite works or spend the time discovering new writers and thereby hope to understand the world a little bit more. Maybe this is a wholly selfish act. A complete absorption within my own ego. A silly idea really when I don’t generally like myself very much. Maybe I am just slightly delusional. Maybe a need to start a new start. What if I were to find a topic that I could fully investigate in the remaining 42 pages and properly commit myself to gaining greater understanding of something. But what? I only ever seem to come back to myself. I am self obsessed aren’t I? I’m struggling now. I need to fill another two pages and two more lines so that I can go to bed and sleep poorly for a few hours before my

stupid and unsatisfied mind is allowed to drag me back into the world again. If I were to stay up really late, not necessarily to continue with this text but just to tire myself out completely, would I be able to sleep better? Does it make more sense to go to bed earlier knowing that I may very likely wake up very early and therefore have to slog myself through another god-awful day, or should I sleep less by going to bed later but possibly sleep solidly before having to wake up at a normal hour? Either way I will be tired. Maybe I should stop worrying about it and just relax. What is really worth worrying about so much that I lose sleep over it? War, famine, disaster, poor ethically unsound methods of living one’s life – these would be

quite sensible options really. But I have to think about work, or random places that I have been to during my life, or people that I am no longer acquainted with, or any number of completely useless things that I generally do not care about (I do care about my work, but not enough to fabricate random occurrences with non-existent students in unrelated events from my past.) I wish I could be quiet, and forget things. I wish I didn’t worry. I wish I was better at interacting with people. I wish I wasn’t so pathetic. I wish I could accept who I am and what I do as being perfectly fine because then I wouldn’t force myself to write ten pages of full-on shit every day for a fucking week. Why am I doing this? I have no idea why I am doing this. Fill the last line up with words.

Day Four

Nearly half way and I must say. It feels like a long slog. A thing about this project that is starting to miff me is the amount of things that I forget. Not in that by letting my mind literary wander I keep dredging up long forgotten aspects of my life (I don’t think anyone ever really does dredge up long forgotten things from their life, either because, judging by my own experience, mind, the things worth dredging back up never actually are forgotten but rather pushed to one side to enable the ongoing and habitual routines of life, or otherwise if things can be dredged up, they obviously haven’t been forgotten, just pushed to one side. I feel like I said – wrote – the same thing twice. Each way was incredibly similar too. I quite

enjoy such moments of clear insight into the working wanderings of one’s mind. It makes me feel alive. I feel as though I have stepped out of myself to observe my innerself much more clearlyer. If that isn’t an oxymoron. How appropriate is it to diverge with no apparent warning? I wish I knew how to make really good bolognese sauce. I have followed recipes, I have followed my nose, I have followed my mouth and I have followed advice and a whole big fat range of ingredients. Every time it tastes the same. Either I am a culinary philistine or I have bombarded my cake hole with too much overflavouring that I cannot tell anymore. It just tastes like a bit of mince in a weak tomato sauce. I want that thick, blood red, creamy rich

sauce that fills your entire head with flavour, makes your belly expand satisfyingly and lasts through the night to be relieved in flavourful farts the next day. I’ll keep asking, and I’ll find out. Maybe it’s MSG. Mono Sodium Glutemate. Singular Salty Buttocks. The wine, however, is delicious. Some kind of Shiraz, apparently. Not that I can appreciate wine by name or year, or grape, or anything else other than what it tastes like and how pleasantly it gets me drunk, and to be honest, drunk is drunk. I think that anyone who pretends otherwise is simply trying to cover up the fact that drinking and getting drunk is fun. Not getting absolutely shit-faced, that is only fun on rare occasions when every element of the occasion so com-

bines so as to produce happy highs all round, pleasant encounters, close call love affairs and an explicit lack of bad vibes in any way. Not often. And it can’t be made to happen. It has to be an organic, willing, group-based go with the flow. Maybe that’s why the vast majority of (men lead lives of quiet desperation) people seen out on the town seem so desperate. Everyone has had and known this rareness and wants it to happen to drag them out of their mundanity that they spend their entire working week thinking about it and the entire unworking weekend forcing insane levels of drunkenness upon themselves. They are trying too hard to not be normal anymore, and yet they are the norm. I drink to feel something. I am much the same as anyone else and I do not wish

to make out that I am any better than the drunken retards that populate our streets on a regular basis. I have been and will continue to be a drunken retard on a regular basis. But I do not drink to escape. I drink to arrive, to have feelings, to want things, to talk to people, to do things, to be outside of what I usually fail to do. I know that it stems, like everything I do, from my basic lack of self belief. But that doesn’t excuse it. I still do drink, probably more than I should. Not that I drink all that much. I don’t get hammered on a regular basis nor do I feel a need for it. I’m just bored of being alive. The problem lies not in the ease with which one can obtain drugs to satiate one’s boredom but with the fact that we aren’t given the time or the

valediction to do what we actually want to do. We are told from the very start, from our earliest years that we need to be something. That we need to get a job (and not just any old job, because working in Tesco isn’t respectable, working in an office won’t ever fulfil your own potential, working in a call centre isn’t going to satisfy the needs of a truly intelligent person) that we have to be successful, that we have to make money, that we have to buy a bigger, faster car, that our clothes should look very much like the clothes of the people we want to associate with but not too similar so as to display a lack of imagination and individuality nor so dissimilar that one is marked out as radical or free thinking, that we need to have money in order to be happy and to support ourselves and those

closest to us. We do not need anything. They cannot touch her. 55 minutes left. And still no closer to the truth. I do feel like achievement (if not spelling and decent handwriting) is on the horizon. A harbinger of failure. I don’t think I’ll do this. I do not trust myself. But then I’ve gone further than I did previously. Just. Is this a change in me? Am I from this point forwards going to be the go getting, self assured, man about town that I have always despised in other people? No. because people don’t change. I know I don’t. I cannot be what I am not. But isn’t this project a wilful negation of what I am? I know that I’m lazy, workshy, given to drink, of a pessimistic, somewhat negative character so why is am I so very

adamant that I am positive about doing this? Perhaps I am so negative that I need to prove myself wrong. Pessimist. Imagine how surprised I will be if I actually do it! Maybe I’ll get so into it that I’ll keep a wanker’s diary for the rest of my life! The picture doesn’t seem too bad, but we all know what good pictures do. A picture is only of any use when it is in your head. At least it’s changeable there. It can evolve with you and become physical in how it affects your deportment throughout the rest of your life. In a good way and in a negative way like the great gatsby. Any fool can say what he aint (or something) pretend to be what he ain’t. Any fool. How you aint never gona be a little late. How you aint never gona be a little bit slow.

I do feel a little slow now. Although I’m writing so fast that it is not going to be legible to anyone but me. I remember things. Things I have no recourse to remember. Not things dredged up from long forgotten memories, because they are things that I will never forget. But I, in fact not even I, as I have no control over them. Some thing, my brain, my mind, what ever, has a habit of recalling places, corners shop fronts, classrooms, par carks, anything visual from my life and throwing them up in front of my mind’s eye at random, inconsequential points throughout my day. For no reason. Places I may not have been to for decades, places I may have only visited once in my life, instantly, for no reason, pop up in my mind. And I am not shocked, at least not in

the first instance. I think about them, awash in an unknown nostalgia and am only shocked after the fact. Shocked by a sudden reminiscence of a place I have not forgotten but have no reason to recall. There is never any link or association with what I am thinking about at the time (either time) and I do not remember things that happened in these places unless I make a concerted effort to recall things that happened. I just think of places. Visually, but in a fully sensual way. And I wish I could go back there. Wherever they are, no matter what I did or did not do there, no matter how many associations, good or bad, I may or may not have with these places, I want to go back to them. If I am dissatisfied with my present situation, I have been for years.

Day Five