Tuesday, April 7, 2015

(#186-1) April 7 2015. Thinking can be hazardous—but how can one write without thinking! Perhaps that is why we writers kill ourselves more often.





This gem about suicide is—reportedly—true, and stems from work done by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Researchers there looked at 1.2 million patients with various mental disorders and came to this somewhat disturbing conclusion (especially if you are a writer). The control was an accountant—who, one supposes, represented sanity and normality.

God preserve us!

Suicide has featured in my life more than I like to think about. Indeed, my first book, GAMES OF THE HANGMAN, was sparked off by an actual suicide—or what was presumed to be a suicide because there was no serious investigation (something that has always haunted me and which led to the book).

Hangings are normally assumed to be suicides (unless judicial). So, if you want to murder someone, hang them—but make sure there are no signs of a struggle.

The only suicide I have actually witnessed—which was legal suicide under Washington State’s Death with Dignity Act—is something I have written about before so I won’t go into it again—but suffice to say I have had some connection with suicides, to a greater or lesser extent, surprisingly often. Sadly, suicide has impacted my immediate family as well—multiple times at that.

Well, I have been surprised. On the other hand, perhaps suicides are more common than we generally care to admit.

I find any and all suicides singularly distressing. It is a terrible thing to despair—to absolutely give up hope—and suicide is a fairly clear indicator of that—though I rather like the reason normally given in my part of the world: “due to the balance of the mind being disturbed.”

I was brought up Catholic—though I no longer practice—but I recall being taught that the ultimate sin was to despair because it meant you were denying the existent of God. According to dogma, with God in the game, there is always hope.

I find it hard to accept the logic implicit in such dogma, but I proffer it for historical interest. Given the terrible things that God seems to allow in this world, I’m not sure that God’s idea of hope quite matches what we humans have in mind. I find much of theology a stretch—and incredibly convoluted.

I debate whether a failure to organize my thoughts is quite an adequate motivation for taking one’s own life—though I suppose it would depend upon the thoughts.

In fact, I organize my thoughts quite well when it comes to writing. The process of writing develops and enforces such a discipline—and, generally speaking, my mind performs well under such circumstances (unless I’m dog tired—like now). Practice does not make perfect, but it certainly enhances a facility.

One of the many attractive things about writing is that, if you stay with it, you do become better over time. Aging, if you are a writer, really does have its compensations—unless and until you lose your faculties. I have thought about that a great deal and have come up with these thoughts.

  • If I can’t write in any other way, I shall continue to write in my mind.
  • I shall console myself with the thought that I have had a good run—with memories to match.
  • If I lose my mind, it won’t matter anyway.

I’m really talking about the collecting, indexing, storage, retrieval, and effective utilization of such information—and primarily the latter. The aspects that are now challenging me most are those involved with execution.

How do you filter out only what you need and present it in such an optimum way that you are reminded in a timely manner—because there is almost always more to remember than my mind seems able to cope with. Yes, I’m talking serious projects here. Projects start off with a vision but their effective execution requires coping with endless detail in some time-relevant sequence.

The obvious solution is some kind of project planner. Here, the problem is not availability but an excess of choice compounded by a learning curve. The kicker is that to evaluate any single package properly you really have to learn it first. On that basis, it sometimes seems to me that I will be evaluating software for the rest of my natural life.

But, fun though it is, I tend to believe that my mission is life is to write—and books at that.

I’m looking for something simple, flexible, visual, color coded and near creative writer proof (A tall order?). Currently, I’m looking at the Kanban area and am discovering that simple though Kanban is superficially, the devil, as always, lies in the details.

I can’t seem to get away from the damn things.

Currently, I’m evaluating Trello. That is not nearly as colorful as KanbanFollow but allows hot links to be included and is slightly more flexible. None of these apps operate exactly as I would like, but, where software is concerned, I have learned to compromise..

Let me close by commenting on my approach to research. A valid alternative to my current routine could just to research when faced with a specific question (much less work). Instead, I endeavor to keep up to date with my areas of interest in the belief that the ongoing research will sponsor creativity in itself (and keep my brain exercised).

Does it? Yes, I really think it does because my  assumptions are constantly being challenged by new information. For instance, where economics is concerned, I can’t rest on what I learned at university because so much of what I learned then has been proven to be demonstrably wrong.

But, time is finite—and research isn’t writing.

Hard choices hover. Frankly, I don’t recall a time when they were easy.

Let ‘em!

VOR words 970.






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