Where Are You Looking?

At a screen, yes, but where are you looking? Look up. What do you see?

Though I would be the last person to suggest that a human is no more than their body, I do believe that our bodies influence us, perhaps more than we are aware, and in ways we are not aware of.

The environment we choose or create for ourselves is expressive, symbolic – perhaps subconsciously, and perhaps in a code understood only by ourselves, but symbolic just the same.

Dreaming - Nicolaes Maes

I’ve spent the last ten months looking out the window. Not the whole time, obviously, but a lot of the time I spent at my desk this year was spent staring out the window, thinking, dreaming, or just watching in case the postie came past.

Why? Because that’s where I put my desk when it arrived: under the one window in the study, looking out onto the road. But why? Because that’s where it fit without having to move anything around, without having to disrupt the way things were. It was the path of least resistance. As was gazing out the window.

Then this last week, with all the Christmas preparation in full swing (including making old-fashioned steamed puddings), the furniture-moving bug bit. I got the urge to move the desk.
It’s not a small desk (4 1/2′ wide, 2 1/2′ deep & high) and being made of rimu it’s not terribly light, either. Especially when stuffed with stationery. And then there’s the six-foot-tall bookcase full of books and papers (not rimu, but still heavy), and the remarkably heavy easy chair – both of which would have to cross the floor to make room for the desk.

I did it anyway. It was a kind of compulsion. Sometimes you just gotta move furniture.

My desk now faces the wall. To the left of me: books. To the right of me: books. In front of me: pen, paper, corkboard. Work.
It has been a good year, a relaxing year in many ways, but the time for staring out the window has passed. It’s time to get serious (though never, I trust, joyless). This is a place for work.

Paul Barthel Interieur mit Dame am Schreibtisch

What’s in front of you? Where are you looking? What are you secretly saying to yourself?

Plan B Success

Earlier this month I wrote about my plan to finish the first draft of my WIP by the end of this month. Plan B was to not beat myself up if I didn’t get there.

Well, here we are at the end of the month, and the first draft is still incomplete. But here’s what I learned:

1) I am rubbish at estimating. Making up a novel’s worth of story is time-consuming, and so is writing it all down by hand.

6 reams of paper stacked on the floor

I underestimated both the amount of story left and the amount of time necessary to tell it. One week in, I realized that short of some miracle on the time-space continuum, I wasn’t going to finish the novel in August. But:

2) Having a concrete goal ups productivity, whether the goal is reachable or not. Despite being fairly certain I couldn’t reach my goal, I had some record-breaking weeks in terms of how much I managed to create. Personal Best is still an achievement.

231000 - Swimming 400m freestyle S8 Priya Cooper celebrates gold - 3b - 2000 Sydney event photo

3) Doing a big push to the end is something you should plan ahead for – like NaNoWriMo. Picking a month which is already full of Things Happening (including major family events, visitors, and travel) is not a good choice. Full marks for enthusiasm, but Could Do Better on common sense.

4) I am actually capable of focussing on the positive (look how much I wrote!) and not solely on the negative (I failed to meet my goal). I feel healthier in head and heart as a consequence, and not afraid to set goals for myself in the future, because I know I’m not going to knock the stuffing out of myself if I don’t get to the finish line on time.

Plan B: success! and hopefully a success that will continue long after the WIP is finally finished.
So on I run…

US Navy 080809-N-5345W-372 A runner sloshes her way through the final mud pit as she approaches the finish line of the eighth annual Health Net Armed Services YMCA Mud Run at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek

What has life been teaching you lately? Pass it along!