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January 04, 2007

On The Eve Of Thinking About Beginning...

I'd promised Jim a whole two weeks ago that I would overnight to him a few DVDs of the final cut of Ciao, but as of today those discs only just now seeing the inside of the mail bins that will bear them and their brethren to Los Angeles. I've pointed my finger in various directions regarding this tardiness; both to technical matters and to other efforts, to personal projects and personal duress; but the fact is that the fault is all mine, and hardly as dramatic as I might like.

I've grown increasingly disturbed by what seems to be an innate laziness growing within my bones. I've always fancied myself a laborer in the Joycean strain, one whose low output is inversely related to the strain of creation, those gut wrenching birth pains of the imagination, that exacting, taxing duress of perfection. I've recently managed to acquit myself of these delusions, at least somewhat - writing the right sentence or making the right cut can still be like pulling barbed wire from my bowels, but once the first length is freed from that bloody pit, the rest, in truth, uncoils pretty smoothly. It's making that extraction in the first place that gets me every time. I just hate getting started! I have trouble finishing things, too, but that's a problem borne of too much enthusiasm and overcooked curiosity, whereas my proclivity to prolong beginnings is a matter of pure and simple indolence. I do look forward to the onset of each new project, picturing in my mind's eye a miniature diorama of creative brilliance so florid that its own proscenium cannot contain it. I spend so much time imagining getting started that by the time it's actually time to begin, I'm about ready to go to bed.

And now that same ennui of spirit has hit a new low; I've realized that I've attached a certain physical strain to tasks that bear no effect on my person. Merely opening up a file on my computer that occupies more than its fair share of bytes - a feature film in uncompressed high definition, for example - wears me out before I've even made the single mouse stroke required to execute the job. And when I've gone ahead and clicked that button, I hear my computer's dual processors wheezing under the strain of the combined weight of all those millions of pixels and the contractile tissue of my own muscles strain and tear in symbiotic empathy, burning my shoulders with their acidic output before reforming, stronger than before, perhaps, but too exhausted to re-link lost render files or generate timecode. The file's been opened, after all; burning the DVDs can wait until tomorrow, can't it?

But it can't, nor will those parties anticipating the second draft of this screenplay wait forever, nor can the quality of the film I'm working on continuously justify the length of time it's taking me to finish it. I need a psychological shock collar, reminding me to get started, or maybe some Ritalin (god forbid I resort to old fashioned self discipline). The internet will still be here when I'm finished, after all.

Posted by David Lowery at January 4, 2007 12:51 PM


Funny, I always think of you as an extremely productive person. Every time I talk to you you're working on a million things. Interesting to see your self-portrait.

Posted by: Joe Swanberg at January 4, 2007 03:43 PM

You've articulated perfectly my own chronic feelings of creative stagnation. An internet-fast may be in order. What certainly helped me get some writing done over the summer was being up at my mom's house in the mountains with a painfully slow dial-up connection on a painfully obsolete iMac.

Posted by: Bryan P at January 4, 2007 04:14 PM

you're not alone david. i'm currently going through a very slow, lazy streak too (not just on film stuff, but everything). what used to take me five minutes to finish now takes an hour. i've even developed this new habit of sitting in the tub (neither bathing NOR masturbating) with the shower running while i meditate. these past couple of months have zapped so much mental and creative energy (we did finish our edit much earlier than scheduled; when we did work on it, it was often intensive and fast-paced) that i think we're now just able to take a breather and relax. which as we're finding out, means fine-tuning the art of moving through the days in slow-motion and the craft of slacking off as much as possible.

Posted by: Yen at January 4, 2007 06:42 PM


Posted by: tully at January 4, 2007 10:29 PM

I no small way a beautiful post, David. One thing is the pure English lesson I get from it (being a non-native speaker/writer). Your eloquent language teaches me new words every time I read your blog (I had to look up 'proclivity' and 'indolence', and I'm sure there's a few more I should've checked).

Concerning what you write about; I have to agree with all the other posters: First, my impression from reading your blog is that you get so much done, that I should get things moving to keep up (yep, you inspire). And I second those thoughts on that lazy feeling, the difficulty of getting started on things, and wanting to wait for a moment of creative spark that one knows (hopes) will arrive (at some point).

Your description of your computer is almost poetry, borderlining subtle anthropomorphism (another word I had to look up to comment here).

Posted by: Karsten at January 5, 2007 06:19 AM

If you're lazy, then there's absolutely no hope for me at all.

Posted by: Andy Horbal at January 5, 2007 01:34 PM

You know everybody, it's not called laziness. It's called living life. It might come as a suprise to all of you but there is more to life than making films. You know relationships, fun, food, sex, beer (or wine), conversations, sleep, etc. But then again, maybe that's why I'm not more successful. Maybe I should leave all that life has to offer behind and work on film 16 hours a day.

Posted by: jmj at January 5, 2007 02:49 PM

I must add, 'cos the above post sounds awfully curmudgeonly, that my main point is you can't beat yourself up for needing to do other things in life. I don't think you should sacrifice all the other great things in existance to achieve greatness in any one thing. I truly believe you have to find a balance.

Posted by: jmj at January 5, 2007 03:03 PM

I'm so lazy, I didn't even read that post.

I've actually been lazy for about ten years of my life.
I turn thirty in a week and a half and I've already started making changes to attempt to rectify this unfortunate fact.
Oddly enough, the first step of ridding me of my laziness is going to be quitting my job.

Posted by: Regularkarate at January 5, 2007 04:50 PM

i used to be haunted by the same thoughts david. then i realized i've got my whole life ahead of me and don't have to get everything done this second.

though i do still get frustrated by not getting enough done too.. but you know, relax, all will be good

Posted by: brad at January 6, 2007 09:19 AM

It's called Burnout.

Posted by: mutinyco at January 6, 2007 10:58 AM