Sensibilities

An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

01 August 2007

Mid-year crisis

It's the middle of the year, and it's always a jolt to realize that there's only six more months left to accomplish the goals one has set for oneself for 2007. I, in the scramble to justify a January-to-June of not writing or reading as much as I planned, open all the Microsoft Word files of my works-in-progress, do a word count for all of them, and realize that it's not nearly enough.

Sometimes I wonder how I have gotten myself into living this kind of life. I used to be a fairly bland and boring New Accounts Clerk in the province, able to predict what will happen during my days at the bank. Now I’m a generally frantic woman in Makati -- and sometimes in Bicol -- who just tries to write as best and as much as she can and meet her deadlines, and far from able to predict how many words she can come up with in an hour (sometimes it’s forty, sometimes it’s two thousand three hundred and twelve), much less for the day.

When I worked at the bank, when I was ninteen and freshly graduated from college, the math didn't really matter. At the end of the day, it was the branch accountant who balanced my reports, because I could never really get them right. (The numbers were meaningless to me because they didn’t refer to my money.) Besides, I was bad in the kind of math that had wordless logic, and I needed words to understand anything. Econometrics, from college, was better, because there were words, statements and assumptions everywhere before the math, and right at the end of all that math there was either a decision or a judgment, based on the math.

Which is why I feel obliged to listen when the math has, all of a sudden, emerged from its dry and papery depths and gripped me by the throat, hissing things to me with its harsh, dry, dusty voice: "9,000 words for Chapter 8 or else." "Don't you dare kill off this thought at 3,000 words." "You have been revising this piece since 2006 and all you have changed are 14 words? Bah!" "426 words after 7 days of writing and you call yourself a writer." Judgement By Math. Possible Death Of A Career By Math. The grip tightens; I gasp for breath.


A writer measures time not so much with a watch as with the number of words written, drafts revised and books read, making time so much more dreadfully relative. And when time is that arbitrary, the math becomes a matter of utmost importance, though thankfully, still not as important as the quality of the words. And there lies my defense. In condensing the math, I have expanded the words.

2 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

The problem with numbers is that they represent quantity, product. In my experience the healthiest and (ironically) most productive relationship to art is one of process.

11:51 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Hey, Robert. I agree. We should not pay so much attention to numbers when creating, but we can't help but track our progress, to some degree, by numbers. Can't live with it, can't live without it, either.

Thanks for droppng by. :)

12:03 AM  

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