Finding Your Own Work ‘Blank, Suspicious, Meagre’

“The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious;
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre?”

Walt Whitman

I notice a week’s absence from this place. I notice it every night at about 11:45 when I realize I’ve got nothing new to post, or nothing that I want to hurry and post, and that I need to be up at 6 in the morning.

At work meantime–at one of the local public radio stations–I’ve been busy. And I suppose I have something to show for that. To wit:

–A blog post on the latest federal water allocations in the Central Valley. “Federal water allocations” sounds like a topic only a mother could love, but alas, it has no mother. The post is here, on KQED’s Climate Watch blog: California Water: A Mostly Adequate Year.

–Another blog post on a major development for California’s endangered coho salmon–a recovery plan from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The post is on KQED’s Quest Science blog: ‘Condor Time’ for California’s Coho.

–And then this: a radio appearance Friday during which I was “debriefed” on a new scientific review of plans to save fish by Stephanie Martin, our local news anchor for the day: New Chapter in Battle to Save Endangered Fish.

So what’s with the introductory quote? I’ve been a big fan of the poem in which those lines appear, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” ever since I first read it. I guess I take heart that someone like Walt Whitman experienced his moments of doubt even at the point he was at the peak of his creative powers. For me, I’m aware more and more of how much I do not get done, how far short my work sometimes falls of what it might be or at least what I wish it to be. This issue arises around all the fish and water topics I’ve taken an interest in. There’s an amazing amount to tell and little time to tell it well; I don’t have the feeling I’m getting it done. That’s largely a function of divided time and attention; my day-to-day work having to think of other things as an editor gets in the way. My conclusion, for now: Try to focus on what I really want to do and on how to make it happen.

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