The Daily Report
I’ve decided to resume my formal daily posts. As much as trying to keep them up when I’d hit bottom caused more problems than it solved, they’re a useful tool for structuring my work day and work week, and it gives me a good record of both how I’m doing and what I’m doing.
Objectively, this has been a good week for me. On Monday, I created and shared two things. On Tuesday, I wrote a fairly long short story. Yet yesterday, when I couldn’t get up the focus to produce something, I felt once again like I’m stuck in an uncreative rut, that I am a disappointment and failure because I might go one single day without producing something I can point to and say, “See what I did?” This despite the fact that it was three days into the week and I had already posted three things to my Patreon.
Part of the reason I came up with the idea of posting things as Things of the Day was to make it easier to remind myself that yes, I am doing things and making things that people enjoy. The downside is that it’s become another arbitrary standard to live up to.
The reality is that no week in which I write an entire short story should be seen as a waste, no matter what happens in the rest of it. The reality is that this has been a profoundly creative and successful week, and it’s not over yet.
Mikki Kendall (author, comic book writer, and journalist) has been talking on Twitter about setting up a Patreon where she writes one short story a week. I think of her as a dynamo. I look at all the things she does and I feel humbled. And I know she can do this. But the thing is, I know I can, too. The difference is when she talks about writing a story a week, I say, “Wow, what drive! What talent!” but when I look at myself and think about a story a week, I think, “Well, that’s a start. What else have you got?”
And it’s not that I think I should be doing better than her. I look up to her. That’s just how perverse this kind of thinking can be. When someone I admire is doing something, I can recognize that it’s admirable. With me? I’m stuck with these feelings that if something comes easily, I’m not applying myself and if something takes work, I’m not good enough to do it.
Writing a short story every week for me more or less amounts to writing one in one day. It has to be the right day, I have to have the right block of time and the right idea, but when it all comes together it happens in one day. The one short story I sold externally last year was written in a day. “Walk Briskly” and my long short story in Angels of the Meanwhile were each written in a day. It’s just how I write.
But I find myself thinking, if I could write those stories in one day, and there are five work days in a week, why don’t I have five stories? Or even “just” three or four, to allow for bad days and off days.
I’ve certainly had to tell my share of ill-informed critics over the years that writing is creative labor, not mechanical labor. I can sit at a keyboard and punch buttons to make words come out, but that isn’t the same as making a story come out of it.
Like so many other things of this nature, I can explain this to others and mean it when I say it. The problem is telling it to myself.
I think maybe this is part of why I started floundering when I stopped engaging so much with people who would make the same complaints, the same arguments, the same accusations over and over again. There is no doubt in my mind that dealing with all of that was detrimental to my health and a suck of my time and energy, but it also certainly helped reinforce to me that I knew what I was doing, when I spent a good portion of every week defending myself to people who were sure that I didn’t.
So basically I’ve got two approaches that I know are unsustainable. I cannot be the queen bitch of the internet flame war and I cannot be a shrinking violet terrified equally by the lurking specters of success and failure. It seems like the obvious answer is to strike a balance, but if I knew where that balance was or how to maintain it I wouldn’t be here.
That’s not to say I don’t have any answers, or any plans. I did yesterday hit on the solution to some of my long-term plans regarding the use of Patreon and how I position and sell myself. I think this post is long enough as it is, though, and I don’t want to bury my plan of action under this meandering introspection.
The State of the Me
So, an upper respiratory thing has been making its way through my household and it’s my turn to have it apparently. A little scratchiness of the throat, a runny nose, achy joints, and a little bit of brain fog is the worst of it. Nothing serious. Not even terribly bad fatigue. If not for the aches, I’d assume my allergies were flaring up. This particular ache is always an infection thing for me.
It’s coming at an okay time, all things considered. I’ve already done quite a bit this week, so if it knocks me on my backside tomorrow then no real harm done. I’ll probably be over it by WisCon time next week.
Plans For Today
I’m about to get out of the house in part to try to clear out some cobwebs. Later this afternoon I’ll make a post outlining my plans for Patreon. I may also kick around some flash fiction ideas.