Me First

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-08-01 23:00:00 No comments

One of the curious side effects of cleaning up a blog archive that goes back as far as mine does (2000 or so — seventeen years, that's aeons of internet time) is that you realize how wide-ranging some of your interests are. That and how you sometimes have to shelve those things to do justice to the other stuff you tell yourself matters more, like your own creative work.

I used to blog a lot more about movies and music and other books. I loved doing it. All of that had to take a major backseat when I changed jobs in 2014 or so. There was just that much less spare time to go around — or maybe it would be better to say, what spare time I had was now that much more inflexibly allocated. Nobody else was going to write the books I wanted to see written except for me, so I devoted that much more time to creative work that was irreplaceable. (I still have my side project for some of that kind of critical writing, but I've had to throttle the pace on that as well.)

Thing is, thinking critically about other peoples' work is fun. I sincerely enjoy digging up stuff that maybe me and two other people know about — or perhaps even things everyone knows about! — and putting together a discussion of it. Not just "I liked it", but "here's what this meant to me and why", or "here's why I think this worked the way it did".

The other thing about such analysis is that it helps keep me honest and engaged in re my own work. If I don't like the way someone else did something, I have to be all the more cautious about doing it myself. Or if I do it myself, I have to find some way to do it that vaults over the limitations I saw before. Or I try to do something that serves as a critical response to all the deficiencies I saw in the thing in question. It was what I called the François Truffaut Mode: you put a foot in both the critical and creative realms, and you try to get as much as you can from each.

But either way, whether for fun or self-enrichment, the biggest limitation hasn't been the scope of my intake or the kinds of conclusions I draw. It's been just plain old time.

I'm trying to do something about that, though. Things have changed up again at work in a way that may let me pick up where I left off with many of these things — or it might only get worse. I'm still trying to parse that. But at bottom, I'm keeping my own creative work the #1 priority. There are still twenty-four hours in a day and still only one of me.

Tags: creativity criticism critics discipline self-criticism time management