October: A Sense of Self-Protection

I do not have a problem with alcohol.

"To our beloved King !!"

This became something of a problem itself when I did the Deadlies exercise in the Artist’s Way.  The idea is that you write the following on 7 slips of paper which you then draw from, at random, 7 times: alcohol, drugs, sex, work, money, food, family/friends.

You then list 5 ways in which the drawn word has had a negative effect on your life.  Each time the slip goes back, so it’s even chances for next time.  I drew money/money/alcohol/food/alcohol/food/alcohol.  Apparently if it seems inapplicable, that’s resistance. Right.

I was scraping the bottom of the barrel, particularly with food and alcohol.  The negative effects of food on my life have largely been limited to stomach upsets (I still can’t bear the smell of mango) and the annoyingly large amount of time it takes to ensure meals are regularly prepared and eaten.

rotten mango

Alcohol was even worse.  I might have a glass of wine on occasion – particularly special occasions – but that’s about it.  Fifteen ways alcohol has had a negative effect on my life?  You must be dreaming.  Still, at least I didn’t draw ‘drugs’.  Confessing to a youthful tea addiction wouldn’t take me very far.

What have I learned from this exercise?  Well, besides proving that meaning is not always to be found in randomness, I decided overall that I spend too much time daydreaming and worrying (for what is worry but a dark daydream?) and not enough just enjoying the life I have.

A large part of this chapter of the Artist’s Way looked at workaholism, which is another problem I am happy not to have.  Or do I?  While I certainly don’t have any problem shaking the dust of the DDJ off my feet at 5pm on the dot, I do tend to fill my life with a lot of other doing.

Oh the shame...

Housework, handwork – doesn’t really matter what as long as I can feel guilty for not doing it, or at least for not doing all of it.
I’d secretly like to be a workaholic, it turns out, but I can’t bring myself to actually do all that work.

Nonetheless, I have resolved to be a bit more focussed in what I choose to do in my non-work time.  As with my writing projects, I won’t start any more until I’ve finished at least some of those I have underway, and I’ll try to work steadily on one instead of floating from UFO to UFO.  And I won’t feel guilty for not being able to do everything, which should make what I am doing more enjoyable.

The problem is that I tend to be a bit ambitious in what I can achieve, so my projects often take a long time, even once you take the distraction and procrastination into account.  But not always!  Having decided a couple of weeks ago to make myself a more permanent eye-swathe, I got straight down to the job with a fat quarter (in black and gold) and my sewing machine (also in black and gold).

Singer sewing machine

I used it last Monday (the swathe, not the machine) and achieved about 2,400 words (estimating 200 words on each of 12 pages and not wishing to count them all by hand).  More to come tomorrow, when trouble catches up with our heroine, an unexpected enchantment intervenes, and she uses up her last lifeline.

It’s a public holiday here in New Zealand tomorrow: Labour Day.  Which I shall celebrate by labouring at my chosen profession, instead of the one that feeds me.  It always struck me as strange that we celebrated Labour Day by not labouring.  Very illogical.  As usual, I’ll let you know how I go.

In other news, Tim Makarios of Ideophilus is seeking pledges to fund a Creative Commons audiobook of G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.  Details here, including where you can find a sample of his reading voice – very easy on the ear!  Stop by if you’re a fan of G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis (who recommended the book) or Creative Commons works generally.

Until next week, dear readers!
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Accountability

As I’ve mentioned before, I started this blog largely to have some accountability about whether I wrote or simply procrastinated.

Recently, I was happy to discover another writer using her blog for the same thing, although in her case she’s pulling out the big guns and doing NaNoWriMo.  (I shall take on the role of the elegant lady in the back, watching with her hands over her ears.)

Artillery Demonstration #2

I would like to do NaNoWriMo someday, but not this year, I think. This year has been quite eventful enough as it is, what with moving house, changing job (though not employer), bouts of ill health and so forth.
Of course, as with so many things in life, there will never be a perfect time, but some times are better than others, and the time for which you have prepared is better than the time for which you have not.

As I was mulling over the slowness of my progress this week (while I did some more character work last Monday, I didn’t add a word to the MS) I decided that in a non-NaNo scenario, the important thing is not so much how fast you go, but that you do not backtrack, go in circles, or stop.

the dark forest

Or as Tolkien more poetically put it:
O! Wanderers in the shadowed land
despair not! For though dark they stand,
all woods there be must end at last,
and see the open sun go past:
the setting sun, the rising sun,
the day’s end, or the day begun.
For east or west all woods must fail …

However slowly you trudge, as long as you keep going forward you will eventually get to the end of your book. Unless you’re writing War and Peace: The Extended Edition, in which case you may well die of old age first.

This Monday my goal is to get my main character out of her comfort zone and then knock away all the supports and protections she has had so far. As they say, get your character up a tree and throw stones at them. Or if you’re Tolkien, get them up a tree with slavering beasts beneath and then set fire to the tree.

Burning Trees at Taylor's

I like to think I’m comparatively merciful.

So, in the great Internet Accountability, what are your goals (writing or otherwise)? And do you have any handy tips on how to keep motivated while wandering in shadowed lands?

As always, happy to hear from you!
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