20 Lines A Day

I am looking for a new job, hopefully one in which I can utilize both my skills and knowledge of design as well as my skills as a writer. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention photographer and Photoshop junkie. It may seem like I’m spreading myself thin, but I don’t think so. I think of all of these skills, essentially, as editing. A photograph is taken, but it doesn’t quite represent what I saw. A room is filled with things, but it’s not quite the idea of what the dweller wanted. A sentence is written, but it either conveys the intention of the writer incorrectly or it is written so sloppily that the impression the reader has of the writer’s idea is wrong. These separate things, things that become an identity – writer, editor, designer, photographer – are all about taking what is there and making sure that the message is conveyed correctly. The grammar is right; the spelling is right (although typing, much more than spelling, is my enemy here); the lighting is right; the space feels right. The blog Apartment Therapy has an interesting name that was explained a while back; that the founder, when he began as an interior designer, was more of a therapist for a space than he was a typical interior designer. It reminds me of what Louis Kahn said about a brick becoming a building. Ask the brick what it wants to be. In terms of the Apartment Therapy founder, I think therapist and editor are fairly synonymous. Ask that sentence what it wants to say. Ask that photo what it wants to say, what it wants to convey. Ask the room what it wants to be. Ask where on the lot the building wants to sit. Just like asking a person what he or she wants to be or do.

I was reading a synopsis of a book called “20 Lines A Day” by Harry Matthews. I consists of essays, roughly 20 lines long, inspired and driven by a quote by Stendhal that one should write 20 lines a day, whether they are good (he actually said “genius” but I’m settling for less) or not. I then read the last post I put up here yesterday and was happy to see that exact number of lines published. It adds to my regimen, of course, which right now includes meditating 20 minutes a day, 60 dumbbell curls, and an hour or so of software updates (AutoCAD, Revit, or more happily, my dear crush, Photoshop). And hopefully sleeping enough. These 20 lines a day won’t be here exclusively. I’m going out of town for 9 days soon, and will only have an iPhone on which to check email, but no computer with me. So many of those 20 lines will be written with pen on paper, which I can still do. Even cursive. I’m not going to pretend that an iPhone keyboard can do much beyond a simple email, Google search or make one look like an idiot due to both its asinine text corrections and it’s microscopic “keys”. Pen and paper it is for me for 9 days. So tacky compared to an iPad or iBook. Most likely though, I won’t be mugged for the little Moleskin notebook, and my iPhone can be tucked in a pocket.

Am I at 20 lines yet? I don’t know. Let me count. The lines here are wider than the published lines, so when I saw 20 lines in the last post, it was most likely closer to 15 or so here. But my rule is 20 here in this window. It’s certainly not genius, but it’s good practice. And I haven’t even talked about Zen, which is fine because I think often the best Zen is that which mentions Zen not at all. I alluded to architecture and design, but didn’t actually write about them, which too, is fine, although that doesn’t quite work as well as Zen in its “absence is the best presence” sense.  But damn, I’m only at 17, and even with all this padding. I suppose that’s why there’s a little concept known as discipline. And I also suppose that writing 20 lines about writing 20 lines probably shouldn’t be done more than once. Speaking of once, I could also spell out the numbers mentioned in this post and probably get half a line, or maybe even a whole line done. I’m not going back and doing that, though. Twenty (first word in a sentence, so it does count here) is more difficult than it sounds, although, again, this window is fairly well-endowed in its width, and after publishing it may puff up to 30, who know? I will, of course, once I compare the numbers of lines here and those published. I remember a book I read as a child called “The Monster at the End of the Book,” a Sesame Street book with Grover trying to tie the pages together and so on to keep the reader from getting to the end. The monster at the end, is Grover himself, but he was frightened and didn’t want to get to the end. I feared 20 lines a few lines back, and look here, I’m at 22. Do those two extra lines count as extra credit toward genius?

Post-publication note: 22 lines here is equivalent to 40 published lines. I think I’ll say 12 lines here is just fine and not force more if there’s no more to say. I’d hate to have to bring up Grover every time.

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