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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Friday, June 29, 2007

a tortoise on Everest

The computer is still working. (Might be more than I'll be able to say today, having woken at 2:30 and never returned to sleep--mind too hyperactive.) I was able to write four pages yesterday, which is tolerably near my daily target of five. Three pages I regard as an adequate output; two is disappointing, and one is a sign that I have struggled to make even a token advance in my work.

Yesterday I had my weekly lunch with my mother. One of the things we talked about was work: some people like to work. Kimmie is one of these: she gets positive, recreational-style pleasure from working at tasks, like painting rooms or making gourmet meals. My niece Chella seems to be another one: thinks nothing of helping paint a friend's place or digging a flower-bed. Through their willingness, ability, and a sense of responsibility, these people also tend to be exploited by employers, working extra hours without pay and generally being the willing horses that get the whip.

I don't have a taste for work for its own sake. I don't get a recreational pleasure from working, in the sense of needing to be busy. I think my father is somewhat that way: while vacationing he wouldn't be among those lounging around on blankets or sunning themselves on the deck of a sailboat; he'd be polishing brass, mending things, barbecuing. His hands craved activity. He's an inherently productive person.

I'm not the same way. I do enjoy effort--but it needs to be effort in some direction that is meaningful and interesting to me. In order for me to enjoy it, it also needs to be on my time-frame. I can't stand being rushed, pushed, or driven. The way I apply effort is slowly, steadily (or sometimes intermittently!), and thoroughly. I can work fast when I want to--but I usually don't want to.

Also, I tend to spread my effort out so that it is not focused too intently at any one time. My reading, which I do for pleasure, is actually also work--I read almost nothing that is not related to some project or other, and I rarely read without a highlighter. Most people would regard this type of studious reading as punitive--as work;, but I positively enjoy it.

One creative area where I do like to work quickly is in drawing. I was born with quite a bit of drawing talent, but the drawing I like best and am most drawn to is cartooning. Capturing the essence of a person or expression quickly, in a few strokes, is what I find most satisfying. Among more serious types of drawing, I've found that I like media that let the image develop fast--especially charcoal. In the visual world, I'm not fond of fussy, exacting techniques.

But in writing, it seems that I am. I'm the tortoise heading up Everest. I may very well make it--it's just that most people won't live long enough to see it.

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  • "But in writing, it seems that I am. I'm the tortoise heading up Everest. I may very well make it--it's just that most people won't live long enough to see it."

    Paul, I so resemble this! d:) (But I encourage you--it is more important to have faith in your ability and simply expect to succeed.)

    By Anonymous Debra Young, at July 01, 2007 10:41 AM  

  • Hi Debra--thanks for stopping by, and for the understanding. I'm sure there are other kindred spirits out there. In fact, I think I'll post about that today...

    By Blogger paulv, at July 03, 2007 7:28 AM  

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