Work Ethic

Because I have ADD and because I would always rather be sitting on my couch sipping bourbon and reading a mystery story (although I’ve recently given up bourbon due to an unfortunate experience involving one glass too many and a very pathetic Indy Clause the next morning), I always question my own work ethic.

I wish I got up every morning, made coffee, wrote for three hours, had a break for a run/nap/food/walk in the park, wrote for four more hours, had a martini, watched DP cook me dinner. But this is not how it works. I’m lucky if I write a sentence every day. Hell, I’m lucky if I delete a sentence every day.

I think about Townes Van Zandt. He left his wife to go on the road and devote himself to his art. He was a drunk, and possibly an asshole [and easy on the eyes, as the link will show], but boy he could write music. I have no desire to leave DP and go onto the road for the long term to devote myself to my art. (Although two weeks is fair game.)

But then I think about less dramatic sacrifices that one can make to devote oneself to art. I think about Teri’s post (and this is a quote of a quote):

“To succeed I have to do a lot of different things.  I need to be stronger mentally. I have to prepare harder and smarter. I have to maximize my equipment. I have to do things other guys don’t.”

Preparing smarter. This is not leaving your wife and kids to sing in honky tonks around Texas. This is about finding a way to make this writing shit work in your life.

It’s also about finding people who support you. I have friends who will let me rattle on about obscure scientists just because they love me. And they don’t just have to be writers. But sometimes they are.

I think about Lesley Wheeler. She has tenure, books, kids, and a husband. She writes great poems, and she’s so nice and still darkly funny you can’t even hate her. Not even a little bit. She writes about being married to a writer, and how they support each other and push each other to write more and harder.

I’m married to a writer. He hates my book because it makes me sad. But if I ask him a question about plot, pacing, phrasing, or anything about the mechanics of writing, he’ll tell me how it is. And sometimes he’s even right. Sometimes.

Where do you find your work ethic?

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9 responses to “Work Ethic

  1. Usually, it’s hidden under the pile of unfolded laundry on top of the dryer.

    But seriously, I want to know how the story ends, and the only way to find out is the write it.

    And I also have friends who claim they want to read the next bit of whatever I’m doing, so they keep me going when I can’t do it myself . . .

  2. As good as everything is, I work toward, quest and dream of better. Enough is not enough. Perhaps I am a selfish dreamer, or a fool, but I know no other way.

    Work ethic requires discipline and structure, yeah I got that, (I make my bed every day). My house looks like a shit-hole but my column went in on time and the paycheck from my day-job was automatically deposited. Life is in order.

    Now if I just get the hell out of here, empty the dishwasher, fill it, and go to Stop and Shop, I might just have a few minutes to bang out a little work ethic before I go to work.

    Jealous of your two weeks.

    Sarah W. the pile of laundry atop my dryer is quite formidable. It is calling me for a fold but I dare not touch it, alas, another distraction I do not need.

  3. It may not seem to apply, but almost every time I open the manuscript on my computer I think of my mother saying, “It doesn’t matter what you have, it only matters how you take care of it.”

    She was referring to your home, your furnishings, your clothes, your things. But that saying means something completely different, and heavier, for me, so when I’m not writing I feel like I’m letting her down.

    • Teri, so sorry to get all emotional but your very words, or should I say your mother’s words have been magically sent to me. This day, this very day, just now on the way home from the grocery store I talked to MY mom, (she’s dead, I know it’s weird), anyway your mom’s words are MY mom’s words.
      I’m sitting in my kitchen crying because I miss her and need to talk to her about how I feel like I can’t take care of any of it.
      Sorry, gotta go.
      Everybody says you are special, I guess they are right.

  4. Routine. Without it, I’m completely lost. I have no willpower whatsoever. I do have a sociopathic stubborn streak. I set it in my head and nothing will let me deviate from the plan.

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