Sometime back in February, Claire posted about this extraordinary experience she had with her own, personal Clarence (of the guardian angel variety), who told her exactly what she needed to hear, exactly when she needed to hear it.
Susan’s been on a kick about messages from the Universe.
And me, I’ve just been on a jaunt of self discovery, fumbling toward some new path because the old one–that I’d be quitting my day jobs by the end of this year to devote myself to writing because my ship should have COME IN (yeah, that one)–isn’t happening.
But anyway, because of all these kinds of things, I’ve been trying to pay attention more to the signs of kismet or fate or karma or whatever you want to call it that are thrown in my direction. Or perhaps that beat me upside the head like a Gibbs slap (because, let’s face it, I am not a woman of subtlety…I require pretty big signs). And even I’ve been forced to admit that I’ve been getting a lot of them in the last 24 hours.
It all started yesterday when I began reading Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic, in which she notes “You’ll learn more from every mistake than you ever would from getting it perfect the first time.”
Which has really been knocking around my brain like a pinball since I read it because, HELLO, my END GOAL is to get it as close to perfect the first time as possible so that I’m not wasting time on other stuff since I have so little time to write in the first place. The whole idea of screwing it up offends my sensibilities both as an overachiever and a person who believes in efficiency.
So I mentioned this to Claire yesterday and she observed “I think part of growing as a writer for you (and I hope this doesn’t sound condescending because of course we ALL have growing to do) will entail separating your writer self from your efficient get-all-the-things-done self.” See how smart she is? Because, yo, this is SO FREAKING TRUE. And on a completely intellectual level, I get that. And I figure that will be a whole lot easier to swallow when I someday have more TIME to write and my life isn’t automatically ruled by the concept of efficiency simply because its necessary to Get All The Things done.
Oh, but the Universe didn’t stop there.
Later last night, Susan and Andrew and I were having a confab over some stuff we’ve all been reading–this idea of looking at mistakes or problems as opportunities (more wisdom from Holly Lisle). My interpretation of that was “I think it’s more that crap is going to happen. That’s life. And you should look at whatever the crap is to find the gold nugget of opportunity hidden within.” To which Andrew added:
“We’re all at different skill levels which come with different limitations. In order to get past them, it’s probably better to find the nugget of knowledge AND said nugget might be easier for a someone else to find because they’ve either been through it or have a different perspective on the subject. And sometimes the nugget might be harder to find and/or might take additional failures to find. So, over analyzation: bad. Light contemplation with continued forward momentum: good.” [emphasis mine]
I have really smart friends.
So I go to bed kinda mellow and pondering what I’m supposed to be learning from my present failure (i.e. the 10k I whacked last weekend from Riven) [To which I’ve added back a little over 800 this week–see, there is actually an update in here].
And THEN this morning, in my inbox, I get a copy of this essay, which starts off, aptly enough with:
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF MY APOCALYPSE are called Efficiency, Convenience, Profitability, and Security, and in their names, crimes against poetry, pleasure, sociability, and the very largeness of the world are daily, hourly, constantly carried out. These marauding horsemen are deployed by technophiles, advertisers, and profiteers to assault the nameless pleasures and meanings that knit together our lives and expand our horizons.
Which is…kinda angry, now that I read it again.
The author goes on to say:
…the same problem applies to most of the technological changes we embrace and many of the material and spatial ones. The gains are simple and we know the adjectives: convenient, efficient, safe, fast, predictable, productive. All good things for a machine, but lost in the list is the language to argue that we are not machines and our lives include all sorts of subtleties—epiphanies, alliances, associations, meanings, purposes, pleasures—that engineers cannot design, factories cannot build, computers cannot measure, and marketers will not sell. [Emphasis mine]
Efficient. Fast. Productive.
All things I’m trying to be in the name of maximizing my output in the limited time I have available.
When did I turn into a machine, y’all? When did I forget that at the end of the day, I’m making art? At some point, I’ve let this become about product and profitability and marketing–which is understandable as I won’t be able to quit my day jobs without all of that…but that’s not WHY I’m doing it. Or it shouldn’t be. It didn’t USED to be.
So…yeah, I’ve got a lot to think about and I’m pretty sure I really needed to hear all of this just now.
Man, that’s a lot to take in. I totally understand the frustrations. Some things are out of our control though! *hugs*
I really like this post, especially the end. I think that’s some very valuable wisdom you just acquired. Wait. What’s that? I think you just leveled up.
If only we had the option to reassign our vital stats when we leveled up… 😉
No kidding, right? I’d like to reassign my stats. 😀
You have totally hit the nail on it’s head. I have felt this so much lately. I only published my first book December and instead of getting the next one done, I’m faffing about marketing and all the rest of it. I enjoyed the writing of both although the follow-up hard work was a shocker (!), but then I got to write the second and buzzed again. That was the first draft, from last November!! It needs a lot of work and I keep putting it off for all the rest of indie-duties. I need to get back to what’s important – thanks for the shove – seems you do too. Best of luck Kait X
You wear me out and with all you do…whirlwind! Along the same lines, I’ve often wondered why you haven’t compiled your GF recipes and your writing/life advice into ebooks to sell. I’ve read most of them on here and Pots but I’d love to have them all in one place…plus more income stream to kill the evil day jobs. Hmmm…
I guess I always felt like other people said it better before me. And I’m not sure I have enough of my own GF recipes to make a whole cookbook. But it’s something to think about.
I once subscribed to over 200 blogs on writing…now only 20. You made it through the Great Blog Cull of 2012 for a reason.
I just love this post for the GIF of a Gibbs slap… useful in so many situations!
But I definitely agree with the current focus, particularly being spread around the internet by marketers, that writing should be fast and efficient. Become a millionaire by writing your own ebook – follow these 10 simple steps. Pah. Give me 40 years of world building and developing an entirely new language, re-writing entire chapters because the moon wouldn’t be quite at the right phase in that scene, and a life of passionate reading and research. That’s what I’m about (though having a day job that allowed me to read and do research all the time would be awesome.)
Epiphanies are amazing. A light flashes bright in the darkness and we’re not the same person we were before it.
But now that you’ve had the ephiphany, what steps are you going to take? What changes are you going to make? What, if anything, needs tweaking? How will you do it?
In other words, how is this epiphany going to make your writing life more enjoyable? Where can you cut yourself some slack?
It’s not going to be easy, but maybe it’s like the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. It’s only when you’ve faced down the dragon that the treasure will be yours for the taking….
Wishing you all the very best.
(Funny how the mind works when your thoughts are occupied elsewhere…. I just had an idea that rang bells in my head….)
About the Evil Day Job – could your love of cooking be your path to freedom, rather than your writing? Because it is so obvious (to me, anyway,) from your blog posts how passionate you are about good food and preparing it and presenting it beautifully.
Just a thought…
I considered it briefly at one point, but I have no interest in cooking commercially in a restaurant, and a personal chef isn’t something that would be sufficiently lucrative where I live. The fact of the matter is that I’m the primary breadwinner with my multiple jobs and it happens that my field makes that pretty much a guarantee compared to my husband’s unless he were to spend years (and lots more money) going back to study something else (which he has no inclination to do).
This is not an insult but I’ve always sort of thought you were at least part Borg. You are constantly doing things and pushing yourself to do them better, faster, more efficiently. Exercise, dieting, cooking, writing….push, push, pushing yourself. I get it; my husband’s the same way. The trouble with being a perfectionistic pusher is it’s statistical. It’s always comparing what you managed today with what you managed last year/month/week. There are no pauses or plateaus to relax, if only for a minute, into the realization that you DID do something better today than you did last year/week/etc. There’s simply the robotic response of: ok, I did this better today than yesterday. Now what can I do to do better in an hour/tomorrow. There’s no present moment of simply relaxing and enjoying what has been accomplished, there’s just the constant push to do it better/faster. How can you enjoy any End Goal if you’re so constantly pushing yourself to produce more/better/faster? You’ll just hit a goal then shift the goal further out and further out To Infinity and Beyond! and never even know when you’ve reached the goal.
Chill, girl. Take a minute and just breathe once in a while. Hell, I get exhausted just reading how busy you are sometimes! lol
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Snerk. Yes, you’re absolutely right. Some of this is a lifetime of what I like to call Overacheiver Syndrome. I’m incredibly competitive–with myself. But I’m working on it 🙂
Holly Lisle has some great motivational stuff. I need to go back and re-read some of her articles… they helped me as a newbie writer, and sometimes it feels like I’ve backslid so much that I’m a newbie again. Thanks for the reminder that writing is a messy process!
I have always thought being a perfectionist is a shortcut to frustration – What is life if full of care (or striving/frustration) we have no time to sit and stare (dream/create/relax into life) apologies for messing with the poem:) be kind to yourself is what I say
I love this bigger than big!
A couple of years ago, I decided to stop doing things that didn’t bring me joy. I’m still practicing, but it’s becoming more natural.
I hope that this epiphany keeps on breaking, and that you have more peace and passion in every word you write!
So glad yous hared this powerful post!