“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the blogger. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” thus exhausting my quota of exclamation marks for the month. Actually my response has had a bit less flourish - more akin to a banal “Ugh!” than the poetic angst of the writer of Ecclesiastes. But it’s all the same, frustration over labor that bears no fruit. Running hard only to find myself stuck on a treadmill. I’m right where I began.
You see, I have misplaced my memory stick. This is not good.
This stick is where I save my writing projects. Cue the lecture on the importance of backing up my files. I didn’t. Most of what is on that memory stick has no duplicate.
Much of the material is in its infancy – ideas that catch my attention as having potential. I’ll jot down a synopsis in a couple phrases. Most recently this nugget – “The marshmallow experiment. Delayed gratification.” This means little to you. To me it is an article that needs to be written. Fortunately, this one is fresh enough that I remember it. I have dozens of these - all manner of kernels just waiting to be planted. Most I will not remember.
Some of them have been massaged a bit – the subjects of writing exercises. I give myself fifteen minutes to take one of those seed thoughts and type whatever comes to mind. Amazing how often this becomes the substance of blog posts or articles. In fifteen minutes I may write 75% of the article. It will take another few hours to write the last 25 per cent. A lot of rapid progress happens on the front end. Inspiration provides substantial momentum.
A handful of these documents have been almost finished, awaiting some final editing to be ready for public viewing. A couple I have begun shopping around. Queries have been sent. Dialogue with editors has been opened.
All of that lost. This is not good.
Oh, there are bigger tragedies in the world; even bigger problems in my own life. And in this I still find grace. I had a deadline yesterday for an article. I happened to save a nearly finalized draft on my hard drive. Good fortune. Or grace.
But for now I feel mostly frustration. The idea of starting from scratch feels overwhelming to me. I choke on the prospect, finding it too big to swallow. I guess some would respond to set back with further resolve. I throw up my hands, cry uncle, go watch television. To sit and write feels futile. I’m disgusted with the treadmill.
But God brings me back to this. What has served as an outlet for thoughts is now used as an outlet for feelings. I need some way to vent my frustration. I will write it.
No wild insight here. No point that will make you ponder. No new angle to consider. Just me frustrated. I know there is more to the book of Ecclesiastes than the author’s cadence of meaninglessness. There is a conclusion. But reading the book, the beat that resounds is the futility of life. The author does not hedge on his expression of this. Nor will I. All that hard work lost, a waste of time, a chasing after the wind. I am frustrated.