Reasons for Not Working

Suddenly I stopped putting any work into updating this site. This state of affairs really bummed me out. Earlier this year I got a really nice comment back in that I had a very steady and consistent output of thoughtful work, and when you get feedback like that it definitely brings out your best efforts.

Nevertheless, for about a month, my output has really waned. Which isn't to say I've been idle. Lately I've kept up two blogs, this one and the one at Facets which I do more or less professionally and requires more fiddly attention. In fact, my ideas are still out there turning over as rapidly as ever. And that's just my public work, I've been more prodigious in areas which won't get so much attention. Saying all this brings me dangerously close to making excuses. That's something I don't really want to do.

Instead, and even in the face of feedback that justifiably motivates putting out more work, I'd like to consider good reasons not to do work. These will, I hope, also be explanatory reasons as to why I haven't been doing as much work as I'd like to myself lately. Good reasons not to produce material:

1. When you can't do the work, it can be good not to produce material. If it's like physically or mentally impossible to proceed on a project, then it's obviously a good time not to work on that project. Now, straight up, I'd rather not weigh in on how society pushes us in the other direction, or how I wrap myself up in that dilemma personally. But when there's a serious, literal impediment to a production you have to stop. That doesn't mean that you don't have to try to forge ahead or look for ways through either, it's more about being realistic or aware of the category of limitations that will stop work.

2. When the work can't be done in the best possible way, it's better not to proceed and instead find the best possible way if it exists. I think that this reason has some broad implications, like my first reason for not working above. But I never really want to do something that I can't stand behind or can't, at least in principle, but my full support behind. In essence, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, additionally if it can't be done right it probably shouldn't be done at all.

3. When it would be wrong to proceed, don't. This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately and not in the context of my own work. More so this concept is interesting to me the areas of work I'm interested in--a story for another time. Being Machiavellian doesn't bother me too much, having the ends justify the means. I'm in favor of that callous notion, which I'll expand on in a moment. Even so, every end to an end seem like the then must be justified. I'll also note, I'd rather not go down the rabbit hole of how statements such as "the ends justify the means" are so often misunderstood, but they really are. As a general statement though, if on the road to continuing to work, you can't justify your actions, you shouldn't proceed.

4. When the product won't be good, there's reason not to work on it. Relatedly, be the best damn whatever you choose to be and make the best damn things you can. Today I'm looking at this in the sense of when there's no way out of making something bad. Not everything can be perfect, but when all options are going to produce a less than best possible outcome, reconsider. I don't like to put out bad work. Or put out products for the sake of putting out work. It's better to write something good than merely finished.

So I'm going to get back on the horse. There's a lot on my place at the moment, there's a lot to share and to make better in due time. As I say I haven't been idle, but I'm also okay with the fact that I haven't been putting out work at quite the rate I promise myself or that is admirable. Following these principles and not working are more likely than not going to produce better work which is what matters.

Soon, I'll recommit myself to finishing taking about a life in coffee before it gets buried by more recent experiences. There's much more to say about cinematography, and film generally. Life keeps going, and more parts of the past become worthy of attention. Lately I've traveled widely, that should be discussed as well. And it will be.