Short Take: This Space Intentionally Left Blank

There could have been a post here about Chicago cops, Rahm Emmanuel, the New York Times, federal consent decrees and Walter Katz. I can say that with certainty, as I spent a decent amount of time writing that post. But as I was reaching its conclusion, nailing down the narrow point I hoped to make, I realized something: I was wrong.

Well, maybe not exactly wrong, but I wasn’t right either.

I subscribe to the notion that I don’t know what I think until I see what I write. Whether it’s an event, a decision, an op-ed, I begin with an idea in mind that seized my interest and I write. I head in a direction and start tapping keys in an effort to make the point I think I want to make. But rarely do I know where it will end up. Sometimes it goes smoothly and the path is clear. I head off in a straight line and end up exactly where I thought I would at the outset.

Other times, however, I bump head first into a roadblock. It may be an inconvenient fact. It may be a failure of logic. It may be gap in the line of reasoning too broad to leap over in a single inference. Who knows? I certainly don’t, until I get there. 

This morning, like pretty much every morning, I had no plan to write anything. So I opened the morning paper and sat back for some leisurely reading. Boom, there it was. An editorial that caught my eye about Chicago police and Rahm’s effort to avoid a consent decree with the DoJ, and how the New York Times thought it was a terrible thing. I’m not a fan of consent decrees, as I think they’re a nonsensical post hoc palliatives loved mostly by people who believe in officious righteousness that accomplish little. In contrast, Rahm stole Walter Katz as cop monitor from San Jose, and Walter understands the job as trying to change police culture from within rather than put on a play for the media.

So I wrote. And as I neared the conclusion, I looked at what I had written and said to myself, “that’s not right.” And rather than finish it up and mindlessly hit publish, I saved it as a draft and moved on.

Unbeknownst to readers, there are a couple hundred SJ posts that are saved as drafts. Some are petty little beefs. Some are stupid. Some are wrong, and others just aren’t right. I keep them to remind myself that just because I have a keyboard and a blog doesn’t mean everything that comes out on the screen should see the light of day. The same rule that applies to everyone else applies to me: don’t make people stupider. It’s a humbling rule.

Some days best thing I can do is let discretion be the better part of valor and not publish an ill-conceived post. Today is such a day.

15 thoughts on “Short Take: This Space Intentionally Left Blank

  1. Cristian

    This is nice and thoughtful, but what about your Twitter drafts? I bet there’s a ton of plain awfulness in there, as there is in mine. I hope we never get hacked.

    1. SHG Post author

      Maybe half my twits ever see the light of day (dark of twitter?). Twitter has been an epiphany for me in many ways. I’ve learned, much to my sorrow, just how many seriously deranged, stupid, lying people there are out there. I’ve learned self-restraint, as twitter is particularly transient and every insane twit disappears from my view moments later. I’ve learned dank memes, which would otherwise never cross my path (mostly from @popehat). I’ve learned the discipline of writing a worthwhile twit. I’ve learned the discipline of deleting a twit from which nothing good could come.

  2. phv3773

    Even if one post doesn’t work out, the next might have a phrase as good as “cosplaying Sisyphus” and it will all be good.

    1. SHG Post author

      I liked that phrase as well, but wondered if I was pushing too hard. Glad it worked for you.

  3. Rich Kopf

    Scott,

    I am glad you wrote this. Without blowing too much smoke up the orifice of your choice, I simply do not understand how you do what you do. It is remarkable.

    Your non-post gives me the opportunity to ask about something that I have long wondered. What is your writing process?

    I know you are a fast writer, but how fast?
    What machine do you write on?
    What physical space to you inhabit when writing?
    Do you ever have editorial assistance?
    Do you gather material for future posts long in advance or do you wing it?
    What sources (periodicals, newspapers, blogs, etc.,) do you frequently rely upon, if any, that give you ideas for your posts?
    Do you have a long game, that is, an overarching raison d’être, for your work and, if so, what is it?
    How did you come to love writing? Is it compulsive?
    Does Dr. SJ, your children, or anyone else give you ongoing constructive criticism on your writing, and, if so, do you find it helpful?

    I could go on and on, but you get the drift. Give us the short version of the SHG equivalent of the Iowa Writers Workshop. Please.

    All the best.

    Rich Kopf

    1. SHG Post author

      Over the years, I’ve written about various aspects of my “method.” My posts take ~ ten minutes to write extemporaneously. That doesn’t include finding and reading whatever it is I’m writing about. I type fast. I type on Dr. SJ’s laptop at SJ World Headquarters.

      As I read things during the day, I keep an open email and put links into it of things that interest me. I send it to myself before I go to sleep, and open it in the morning. If something still interests me, I write about it. I usually have a dozen links to consider. Some days, I want to write about all of them. Other days, none. People send me links all the time, more than I can possibly read, so there is a huge pool of potential posts.

      Writing for me is cathartic and for my own amusement. I wrote before the internet, and I’ll write when SJ is dead and buried. It’s just what I do. Writers gonna write. There are long games within short games, but no overarching long game other than to maybe do some good along the way. When I’m gone, maybe something I’ve written will help someone. I don’t know how or why I write. I sucked at it as a young man, and that was pointed out to me on occasion. Maybe my inability to accept that I sucked pushed me to do it, and to prove I could write without sucking?

      Dr. SJ and the kids constantly give me constructive criticism, if one considers “don’t write that,” “never say ‘woke’,” and “you’re a moron” constructive. That last phrase, by the way, is what Dr. SJ said to me in response to my proposal of marriage. I consider it a term of endearment.

          1. Corey

            I’d prefer an Onion style parody where SHG goes full Social Justice, if we’re throwing out suggestions.

      1. Keith

        Does the title get chose first, last or somewhere in the middle as you start to gain speed?

        1. SHG Post author

          First, revisited in the middle, and again at the end. But my titles are studiously obscure and often where I hide my fav references.

  4. John Barleycorn

    It pains me to say this but, I guess this all makes perfectly good “sense”. Although a couple hundred seems kind of low.

    But part of me still thinks you should chronologically give them “drafts” another look just to make sure you ain’t going all soft on us.

    If you did so while taking up drinking as a hobby and readjusting your carcadian clock for the rest of the summer, to better feed the stereotype, I bet I could even book you one of those reality teeveee shows.

    SJ World Headquarters does have a certain charm to it. Throw in the right intro soundtrack, and break out the “Criminal” Defense in a lawyers, lawyer, have the Nebraska Rider show up now and then on a mule, and Chris and the rest of the Texas posey on Harleys….And the rest would be easy!

    And as an extra added bonus certain to drive even you nuts, which might make the future “drafts” more interesting reading for your grandkids.

    Cheers!

    You know you want to!

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