too many words?

Yesterday, five books arrived on my virtual desk, from two sources. I bought another last Saturday. I committed to reviewing another this week. I read another and wrote about it already this week.

Between email and comments and posts and other writing, I’ve written at least a small book this week (If it were put together with the amount of white space of many other books these days, it would be a large book.)

Since last Saturday, I’ve been to most of two banquets, a long meeting with a large presentation, a meeting working on writing a large grant.

I’ve read posts and shared reading lists from the 83 blogs on my Google Reader list, though most don’t write often.

Some of you have had much more of the same this week.

And now, on a Friday, when I have a day off work, what do I want to do?

Read and write.

Which is great.

Unless of course I am doing those things as an excuse for not actually thinking through what I’ve read and living out what I’ve said. In our consumption of vast quantities of information, there is the risk of not processing any of it, engaging with any of it, taking it in, taking it home.

A friend recently talked about a reading group, where people are “expected” to have read carefully enough to be able to bring those reflections to the group. There is, in that expectation/commitment, putting people ahead of data flow. Another friend just asked whether I would keep working on a writing project. I would love to, except I’m not happy with the way I’m lobbing words into a conversation and then running away. What I would like to do is to stay and talk. (I’m staying and talking in some other conversations that I can’t give up, so it’s not simply a matter of saying, “If you’d like to, just do it.”). What I realize, when I am willing to look in the mirror, is that the desire to keep up with what is being said is activity which, for me, replaces reflection.

There is an addictiveness to “flow”. Somehow we need to add in “chew”. To somehow balance news and wisdom, research and reflection, monologue and dialog. We can think of thee two as “in and out” and “in-between”.

If we are all about in and out, consuming and producing information, we become parrots or skimmers. If we are all about “in-between”, the processing, meditating, brooding, reflecting, we may never let anyone else into the process with direction and suggestion. (I realize that these are over-simplifications. Expand them, if you will).

For me, this morning, that means pulling the books that are scattered throughout the house into one pile. For me, this morning, that means loading in some ideas and then mowing the lawn while I think. For me, this morning, that means finishing some email conversations. For me, on Monday, this means being part of Chris Brogan’s comment day, (Sometime over the weekend I’ll suggest some places to go comment).

For you, this morning (or whenever you read this), what does balancing “in and out” with “in-between” look like?


4 responses to “too many words?

  1. Good point about the need to balance chewing and flowing.

    One of my reflective experiments this month was a voice thread with the community I write with at Joyful Jubilant Learning. We left it open for conversation over a couple of weeks and as well as the different dimension of voice what I noticed was that people need *time* to think, to reflect, to decide what to say, and to find the time to go comment or share their words on a thread. Blogging – rapid fire, day after day – can get in the way of that reflecting, chewing, and yes, conversation too.

    I’m interested to see how the medium evolves to take account of this. Or rather how bloggers change the way they produce content to take account of that. I’m pretty sure they/we will though.


  2. that time is a big challenge. it’s what is hard, for me anyway, in talking face-to-face about some of thing things i blog. I need to think with my fingers.

    wonderful reflecting, joanna. thanks.

  3. I know that one of the suggestions for maintaining traffic on one’s blog is to post daily. But I find that sometimes the posts that get the most comment–or those to which I add comments–are those that stay up at least a couple of days, allowing for that reflection, since by then I may have read and re-read. I too think Joanna is onto something there.

    I have also found that writing real send-it-through-the-mail letters is a way that I am able to slow down and reflect.

    And then, there is the whole matter of limiting. Even though we have the potential for involvement in a great deal more communication through the current technology than we had with, say, snail mail, telephones, and office memos, does that mean we have to connect with everything that is available. As with much of technology, the question for me is sometimes not “Can I?” but “Should I?”

  4. wait, what are you saying, Amy? I mean, I post almost every…

    You are right. There is the need to reflect. And I wrestle with that. For some series (Lent, Advent) every day is the point. For many reflective blogs, however, there needs to be the space. You do it well Amy.

    And there is a BIG issue around choosing. And I think I need to write more about that. Later.

    Thanks for talking.