I always struggle to complete things: no end of books on my shelf are 95% read, but I loath finishing the final chapter. In my own work, I have half a dozen manuscripts that are nearly complete: some need one more chapter, some need one more edit, one just needs the bibliography tidied up. But completion is an act of consequence: for as long as I am ‘still writing’, the work can be imperfect. But once it is done, it is an act of performance. It must be right.
The notion of #WorkingOutLoud is a defence against this: it's a preemptive way of avoiding criticism, by accepting that work is not complete, in some ways, it is never complete. But even with that defence, it can be hard to let go.
The Apollo book, which I will publish in November, was so easy to write that I keep thinking ‘maybe I should make it longer’, but that is a route to failure. Stories do not have to be long to be perfect. Indeed, they do not have to be perfect to be perfect! What they need is an honesty, and a vulnerability. Imperfect work can make a good story, if the reader can invest themselves in it.
I guess that is true of my wider work: it holds few answers, but I hope it has plenty of spaces for others to invest themselves. They can take it forward, they can refute it, they can ignore it, all of which is an act of validation in some way. Not that I feel the need for validation: once you have claimed a permission to be wrong, and if you are endlessly curious, both of which defences I employ, then you are on quite safe ground.
When asked what the greatest gifts are that one can bring to one’s work, I usually say uncertainty and ignorance. Because only from a recognition of our imperfection, and a willingness to learn, can we hope to complete the next step of a journey that is inevitably, and by design, one without end.
Very unusually for me, I have found writing harder over the last couple of months: partly as a result of the new reality of fatherhood, partly what I can only call a ‘recovery’ from the death of my father, and partly because I'm just as busy as everyone else and there are only so many hours in the day. Whilst I’ve tried to be kind to myself about this, I am trying to reinforce the discipline of daily writing, as that is the foundation of my thinking, and of any success I have so far.
The Galileo Story
This is one of the final sections of the Learning Science Guidebook, but it was actually one of the first sections I made notes for, in the empty structure. I knew where I wanted to end up, and in reality, this piece is significantly shorter than I had expected, but I feel it says what I want to say.
Words About Learning
Long term readers of the blog will be familiar with the Words About Learning series of posts: as per the above, these are very short posts that I tend to write when too busy, or unmotivated, to write anything at all. They are deliberately short, two paragraphs, or 150 words, illustrated with a photo, so take next to no time to write. Therefore, they are pieces with no excuses: to write it demonstrates to me that I am holding true to the idea of writing. And to fail to write one is to deliberately fail.
This piece explores Curiosity, something that is close to the front of my mind as I explore some cultural work.