Monday, August 16, 2010

The Other Side of the Coin. Sort of

Yesterday (or the day before) I wrote about keeping our promises to ourselves. Or giving up certain illusions about who we are as writers and what we do.

This morning I'm thinking about how much more we could do if we just would. Let's say somebody writes a page a day. Lovely. Good for him/her. But why not write two? The day's sonnet didn't turn out that well, but tomorrow's will be better. True, but why not pick up that sonnet again in the afternoon?

I'd rather go to the track, too, or watch "The Wire." But that's just behavior. Or the gospel of the Collective. Or simple habit. Things that can be changed.

Most of us know the story of the writer who said to her children, "I don't love you when I'm writing."

Do that. Love only the work. Putting it first if only for a few minutes a day. And then a few more. And then more.

I know, I know -- I'm waxing philosophical. But if you'll bring your car around, I'll wax that, too.


  1. Except sometimes you make those promises and then your spouse or your kid or your parent comes to need you in a way you never could have imagined. Or you could have imagined, but you didn't know it would suck away so much of your energy/creativity/intelligence/soul. In such situations, you do two things:

    1. Extend the same kindness to yourself that you'd extend to other people. Can you imagine saying to someone whose brother just died, "I don't care how sad you are, get over to that desk and give me two pages! Give me three!"

    2. You expand your definition of writing. Sure, you're not achieving such-and-such a word count every day. Instead, you're gathering material.

    Sometimes the best thing you can do is give yourself a f#$%ing break.

  2. Do you do windows, too? :)

    I jest (sort of, you should see my windows), but I need a good kick in the 'inkpot' every once in a while to remind me that I could be doing more. I could focus more, I could bs less, I could give less excuses. True, life gets in the way. Life stands still for no man... wait, or is that time? Either way, my packet comes due whether I like it or not, and if it could have been better, I should have made it better.

  3. Didn't write a word yesterday. Took the dog into the woods to sniff for woodchuck dens so I can eradicate those little beasties who are decimating my garden. Where are my priorities?

    Today, tomatoes.

    Days at the track, long conversations with a grieving friend, woodchuck-hunts, those will make our pages more than just pages. Food. Like tomatoes.

  4. Perfect, Rebecca. Reminds me of what Phyllis says, you can't be all output and no input.

    Except when you have a deadline! So I'll be on the opposite of the opposite side of the coin this week--chained to my laptop, feeling guilty that I'm not out with the woodchucks and the tomatoes.

  5. I think it's a good thing to push along the writing. In fact, the more I read about the market today, the more I realize that if I want to have good, solid books that sell and are well-crafted, I need to pay attention to my own self-discipline and at least get a few words out every day. I like the 500 words a day idea. I can handle that many words. And at least I am giving myself a half-hour of writing time, or revising time.

    It's true, some days are better than others. I'm having some interesting times regarding both sides of my family right now, plus a little overtime at work. It feels good to be able to be disciplined in one area of my life. On the days I'm lax, I'm disappointed in myself. On the days I succeed, I feel better. I still wish the lawn would mow itself. Oh well, can't have everything.

  6. Well put, Ron.

    And oh, the hours of my life I lost to The Wire. Not writing time. Just eating time. Sleeping time. Bathing. Totally worth it, though. Totally.

  7. If that's the case, it's probably a good thing I don't know what The Wire is! It's hard enough for me to get the dishes done, much less anything else these days.