The first time I heard Merlin Mann’s name, I was glued in traffic. It was like being in the middle of a piece of cloth being woven, with the warp being parked and moving cars and the weft being pedestrians who hurled themselves across the street at random to reach the ice cream shop, bakery, or plethora of small restaurants that part of town offered.
Distracted as I was avoiding the creation of bits of pedestrian and double-dips mango swirl cones lying across my hood, I couldn’t give the CBC radio program, Spark, my full attention. Spark is a program where technology and culture meet. One of their guests that Sunday was a tech-savvy person who seemed to be saying very sensible things about blogging. When I got home, I tracked down the following and found out that his name was Merlin Mann.
Mann wants us to get back to work. He sees technology as a big advantage and big time waster. He has ideas about how to tame the techno-monster and return to what humans should be doing, which is being creative, passionate, and brilliant.
His blog formula is simple. A passionate blog = obsession x voice
Love something passionately. Write or talk about it in an intelligent way.
I was struck to realize that, outside of family members and friends, whom I love deeply and who are not the least-bit suitable subjects for my blog, I didn’t have an obsession.
I’m obsessive about returning library books on time. I watch a large number of British mystery shows on DVD. I have fiber and paper art projects that constantly threaten to take over my office and wend their way down the hall. I spend hours every day writing or running my writing business, but that’s just me.
But obsession? Gut-wrenching, loving highs and hating lows, I’ll die if I can’t do this obsession?
Initially, I couldn’t identify a single obsession because, as the kids say, “it’s all good.” Returning library books on time isn’t an obsession after all. It’s because I want to avoid those pesky fines, and I want to see what else I can check out.
What I make out of cloth and paper is something I enjoy very much, but it’s not an obsession. It is a way to explore the world without words and a way to connect with other people. If I suddenly couldn’t make thing, I’d find some other non-verbal way to explore the world. Singing bowls have recently crossed over my horizon and I find them fascinating. I’d also find some other way to make gifts for other people.
Over time, I realized that I did have one obsession. The reason I spend hours every day writing or running my business is that I can’t not do those things. If I stopped doing them, I would be miserable. I think that can’t stop doing this qualifies as an obsession. That’s why I chose to blog about writing a novel and about the writing life.
I’m letting Merlin have the last word.
Above all: whose attention will you reward with the best thing you can possibly make today? Good. Now go, and reward the s–t out of them. ~Merlin Mann, techie expert
I hope to see you again Tuesday, May 27, for the second part of Write A Novel: Scenes and Sequels. We’re going to talk about how a sequel is different from a scene.