Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ROW80 Update


So here's what happens. Every time.

I say "I'm cutting back on blogging." And then I start blogging. What the falooza? Am I a rational human being? Do I have any self-control?

Obviously the answer is no.

More thoughts on this below the update:

Sunday, Day 21 - 98 minutes. More organizational work than I intended to do. I think I'm mentally avoiding one of the upcoming scenes, but I can't tell which one because I'm mentally avoiding it.

Monday, Day 22 - 61 minutes. Some nice new material, done very late at night after spending way too much time hijacking my own money post for the blog here.

Tuesday, Day 23 - 34 minutes. I sat down to get myself organized and several blog posts just poured out of me. Hmmm. Actually, I admit, I think they are kind of fun, and it may become a new feature for the blog: conversations among my imaginary selves. It reminds me a bit of what Lawrence Block does all the time, a dialog between himself and a class full of imaginary students. I now see why he does it. It's fun because, you know, it's scene writing. And it's also a good way to clarify points. It's not quite as much fun as when Creative Me and Sensible Me get down to it. (Hmmm, maybe I should trot them out for more blog posts.) This is more Young Anxious Me and Unflappable Old Hack Me.

I'll post those later. But in the meantime, doing that and other things delayed me from writing until very late AGAIN. I did get about 500 good new words done in that half hour I worked.

The Down Side of Contentment

One of the things I didn't talk about much in the Money Post (but is sort of the gist of the whole "Writing as a Job" series) is getting your life to where you want it now, rather than wait for that big score or retirement or that day when pigs fly.

Part of achieving that is having very simple needs.

I remember when I was a kid I had some kind of lesson that would fall on the day before pay day, and on the way home, my mom and I would search the car completely, under the seats, between the cushions, to find enough pennies and nickles and quarters to split a Big Mac. Later when I was in community college, riding the bus back and forth among all sorts of small jobs and classes -- I'd pass a certain Chinese restaurant with the very best egg rolls in the whole world. They were cabbage, shrimp and peanut butter, and served with this fabulous apple-based duck sauce. They were also very big, and an order of them and a bowl of rice made a great meal.

And I, poor schlubbette, would dream of being able to have a Big Mac or a Yat Wah eggroll whenever I wanted. That would be the good life.

I got to that point while still in college.

And lo, I learned that having a Big Mac or a Yat Wah eggroll whenever you want actually is the good life.

I mean, okay, getting rid of bad stuff from your life is more important, and Yat Wah went out of business decades ago, and I have expanded my portfolio of desires since then. But I haven't particularly upgraded them. (We have three, count 'em, three real dim sum houses in town, and no less than two very authentic Sichuan restaurants. And I can find just about any book I ever could want on Amazon.)

So when the crick doesn't rise and the situation at day job doesn't deteriorate into internecine war again, I'm a pretty darned contented little schlubbette.

I Was Warned about this as a young writer. Writers need to be hungry. Writers need to have some deep need which is not met, driving them on. I haven't really believed that because any time I've felt dissatisfied with life, (or wretched, or frightened or desperate) I've been really distracted from my writing.

But honestly? I'm thinking my problem with productivity right now is that I'm too satisfied. I have instant gratification of every single thing I want. If an idle question crosses my mind, I can instantly look it up. Trying to remember the lyrics of the song stuck in my head? Look that up too. If I want Yat Wah eggrolls, I can actually make them myself, but that isn't quite instant gratification, since it would require shopping and stinking up the house with deep-frying.

And let's not forget that I'm finding all my old favorite books, and suddenly I'm enjoying reading again like I haven't done in ages.

It's a problem you should have.

(Don't worry. I'll deal with it.)

See you in the funny papers.


Anonymous said...

So in other words.. be happy but not too happy that it affects your ability to produce?

The Daring Novelist said...

Or to pharaphrase the song:

If you're happy and you know it...

Try harder.

Sonia G Medeiros said...

Such a good point. If we're too comfortable we don't keep growing. The trick is to balance being happy where you are but always looking for just a little more.

David Michael said...

I struggle to be content. Though less now than when I was in my previous decades. Content is hard. I'm more prone to ambition and seeking higher and higher ground to stand on.

A few years of financial difficulties helped simplify my life a lot, but the urge is still there, making it hard to be content. Even when I'm happy. Even when I'm being productive.

But I do try to be more content. =)


The Daring Novelist said...

Sonia: yeah, although what I'm thinking is that the solution to excessive contentment is boredom. That's what really keeps me writing.

David: hey, if it keeps you doing and and you aren't terribly unhappy, drive is good.

One other note about contentment....

My contentment quotient went WAY up when I got rid of cable TV. I don't watch less TV. I watch on Hulu, and on DVDs. But I don't see the freaking political ads. I have to seek out news. (I watch political debates and stuff indirectly via liveblogs and twitter feeds.)

Prudence MacLeod said...

Hmmm, to be happy or not to be happy, apparently, that is the question. Hmm, the great minds must ponder this one...

The Daring Novelist said...

I think we each must find our tolerance for happiness....

Suzanne Lilly said...

Very true, that we need to have some small measure of discontent to give us something to strive for, but not so much discontent to be unhappy. It's like waking a tightrope, isn't it?

David Michael said...

As an American, it's hard not to get competitive about contentment. You know, like: I'm not just going to be content--I'm going to be the most content person *EVER*!



The Daring Novelist said...

Suzanne, the cool thing is that there is always something to strive for. the problem is wanting it.

David: You're going to be the most content person EVER... and you won't be content until you are!

Kelly. said...

You're so right! Though you don't have to be physically starving to want to write, you just have to have that drive and hunger to create. A reason to exist, a reason to want to force youself and your work on the world.

Tia Bach said...

I've been like that with blogging lately, especially since I committed to daily blogging. I seem to have all the writing energy in the world for blogging, but then I pull up my WIP, and ... crickets.

Looking forward to see how you progress this round!

The Daring Novelist said...

Tia, thanks for stopping by. Yes, maintaining that hunger to create... it may sometimes require appetizers. (You should be able to put your link in the posting form, btw. It should automatically make your name into a clickable link.)

Tia: Yep, you need to find a way to fence in those blogging urges. WIP is more important. If you don't want to cut back on blogging, I've found that if I devote a couple of days a week to forced blogging can not only get me ahead, but it can cool the urge and make me want to do something else.

(I am so manipulable.)

The Daring Novelist said...

Whoops that first note was supposed to be for Kelly...

And I took a closer look -- if you are posting with a Google ID, you can put your link in your Google profile even if it is a non-Google url (which is a good idea), but you can also choose to post with "Name/URL."

If anybody has trouble with this, let me know. I like it to be easy for people to follow commenting links.