Friday, September 15, 2006

Tales of the Lazy


"Ambition should be made of sterner stuff..." - Marc Antony, Julius Caesar

I’ve always had more than my fair share of ambition. Constantly ready to tackle a new task, finish it, and move onto the next thing. This goes back practically to birth. My mom loves telling people about the time I told my 2nd grade teacher she was wasting my time. That I was just going to test out of school and start college where I’d actually LEARN something. Couldn’t imagine something like that coming out of my mouth. :)

But I’ve always been like that. It wasn’t something I heard from someone else and repeated. Just 100% Pure Smarty Pants. I always had an answer for what I wanted to be when I grew up, complete with a 20 step plan on how I was going to get there. What college, what degree... had it planned. I even questioned the adults around me about what they were doing with their lives. Cute kid, huh? Anyway, I hit college full force. Finished in 2.5 years with summer school and 18 credit semesters. Hit grad school. Finished it in a year while working full time. I was in a hurry. I was going to save the world. Go to law school. Take on Washington. Blah, blah, blah...

My idealistic little heart got crushed several years ago by a tractor-trailer called 'reality.' I was disillusioned by the political process and decided that was setting myself up for years of pain and frustration if not ultimate failure. Combined with reaching a point in my life where it wasn’t so easy to achieve measurable goals – unless I wanted a PhD or something, I felt lost for a while. I spent time wondering what the point of my life really was. Billions of people get up every day and just live their lives without some greater purpose. I could do it too.

So then what? I decided to pursue a dream I’d had but hadn’t given much real consideration. I’d written stories alone in my room since I was old enough to type. I decided I wanted to be a writer. (Yes, as though the road to publication wouldn’t be as painful or frustrating as politics...) It gave me a new way to achieve goals – finishing books, even if the ultimate goal of publishing (Yes, I know that’s not a real goal because it’s out of my control) was never achieved.

Reading Rocki’s blog this week about losing the joy...I have to thank her for being honest. I know everyone goes through this, either privately, or my venting to dear Playfriends. I haven’t lost the joy yet but I can see how easily it can happen. I’ve had a couple dents in my joy with rejections and bad contest results. Mostly, my joy is in tact. I do, however, go through long periods where I lose the ambition. I wrote DD in 6 weeks. It flowed out of me. Everything was great. Then revisions came and I just lost interest. Without the deadline, the editor or agent breathing down my neck...there’s nothing to push me when I am no longer pushing myself.

I fear this declaration might get me in trouble (ie. Last winter when I was forced to write 1 pg a day and post it so everyone knew I did it) but this time, I don’t think I’m alone. I think several of us are in the can’t/don’t/won’t phase.

When you can’t gather the energy to get off of the couch, much less craft a piece of literary brilliance, what do you do for a kick in the pants?

SP

(PS. Speaking of ugly-cute pets, ie. Instigator's post last week, I have posted my latest guilt adoption. His name is Buddy and we 'caught' him on Sunday.)



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12 comments:

Lis said...

Awww Buddy's cute (and also the name of the dog in my wip *g*)

For a kick in the pants, I'll either start something new, usually something just for me (fanfic works well) or just step completely away and tackle the tbr pile. I've learned pushing myself just makes me hate the wip and what I end up writing is pretty crappy. I even ended up hating the h in my last story when I tried that

Linda Winstead Jones said...

SP, I don't know where to start. Buddy is adorable. Guess that's a good place to start. :-)

As to the rest -- You know, it's OK not to bask in the joy every day. It's OK not to be constantly inspired and dedicated. That doesn't mean it's lost for good. I'm taking some time off, and it's wonderful. Well, copy edits will arrive today so it's not like I have nothing to do, but there's no inspiration or deadline calling me to the computer so I can kick back a bit.

Don't talk about losing the joy. That bothers me. My 51st book is out this month, and the joy is not gone. In the business, maybe, (the business was never particularly joyful, anyway) but not in the writing. I just finished my first short story, and I loved it. I giggled (yes, darn it, giggled) at the computer. I got that rush. It was very cool.

So, don't expect it every day, but don't give up on it, either. That joy is part of what makes writing worthwhile.

LJ

Instigator said...

It definitely isn't that the joy is gone because when I force myself to write I can still find it. It's the motivation that's lacking for me right now. And I know part of that is because I've let myself get burnt out in the last several months. I've been pushing myself and the people in my life. I've taken a few weeks to enjoy myself. I've tackled several books on my TBR pile - something I haven't been able to do in longer than I can remember. But now I'm finding it hard to rediscover...not the joy but the energy.

How about this, SP, you and I will give each other this weekend to wallow. But on Monday we both have to start back. No excuses. I'll hold you accountable if you'll hold me accountable :-) I won't make you post pages...yet ;-D

Instigator

Kathy said...

You need to feed yourself, SP. Do the things you love to do. Read, watch movies, listen to music, play with Buddy or your cats, or whatever else you like to do. Feed yourself!

I heard an old song on the radio today and it roused something inside of me, made me want to combat suffering, starvation and want in the world. Sort of transform myself into Angelina Jolie's character in Beyond Borders. Riveting movie that one, but then I think, I'm no Angelina. What can I possibly do? This goes back to your thoughts about being satisfied to live the life your given. Where would Picasso, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Frank Loyd Wright, Martin Luther King, Jr. be without a dream, a goal, an envisioned reality that gave strength and courage, wisdom and purpose? These 'visions' defined these men. Whose to say that you are not meant for such as this?

Dream on, SP. Dream big!

Kathy

Rhonda said...

SP, Buddy is *adorable*!!! Such a good heart you have. :-)

As for the joy, like Instigator, I just get burned out. Sometimes I just have to stop and read, watch movies, refill the well. Also, the beginning of the story is the absolute hardest for me and I've learned that if I can just mush on through it and get the momentum going, then the joy will usually follow.

And telling your second grade teacher that she was wasting your time? That's priceless! And book fodder. Er...are you gonna use that? :-)

Playground Monitor said...

Oooh, Lis! Another fanfic writer. Actually I gave up writing fanfic a few years ago because I thought it was a wasted effort. Maybe I should try it again just for kick-start purposes.

I read to refill the well. Getting lost in a good romance always makes me feel good.

SP, I'd hardly call anyone who finished college in 2.5 years lazy. That's an amazing feat. And then grad school in a year. Wow! Don't sell yourself short. None of us are judging you -- least of all the slug here. *g* If you need time to rejuvenate, take it. Better to do that than burn out.

I wish I could have seen your second grade teacher's face when you told her that. Did you waggle your finger in her face too?

Smarty Pants said...

I wasn't much for finger wagging, although I'm sure I've been rolling my eyes and arching my eyebrows since the cradle...

SP

(Rhonda - you're welcome to it, I've got plenty more where that came from.)

Rhonda said...

Thanks, SP! :-)

Patricia W. said...

Like PM, I read when I need motivation/inspiration/refueling. Gets my creative juices going. Has worked since the Dick and Jane books from 1st grade. If I'm trying to write romance, I read romance. Always puts a smile on my face.

Cindy V said...

OMG, he is handsome! I really can't wait to meet him!!!

Problem Child said...

Now that my life is slowing down, I'm really hoping to get the energy back. Monday will be my fresh start back. Cross your fingers the "love" is there...

Maven Linda Howard said...

Y'know, I must not have received the memo that said I had to start another book as soon as I finished the last one.

I usually don't WANT to start another book so soon. I'm still in love with the last hero. He has to fade from my thoughts before I can begin the process of falling in love with another character. This has taken as long as six months (!), but you know what? That's the nature of the beast -- at least, my beast. That's what I thought, anyway. Now I find out I'm just lazy.


Guess I'll just be lazy. Works for me.