16 June 2016

Damnable Sprites

A small update.

That I find getting back into my current project obtuse.  Like a skeleton key that is just barely oversized for the lock it ought to open.  I can force it with enough effort, but first I feel myself scramble around looking for another alternative when there simply isn't one.

You must sit down and do the work.

This is where all the insecurities come to play, dancing on my mind like sprites, quick and ephemeral. I brush them away but out of the corners of my eye I can see them.  I know they whisper that the story is no good and you should simply let it die.

But that's depressing.

More encouraging: plenty of terrible stuff gets published all the time.

Currently I work on a short story that called to me.  This is the third short story I have started into within the last few months.  Ideas call and I'm exploring them, but it isn't the commitment of a longer piece and I don't feel bad letting it go.  The process is just lubrication to slide back into the heavier work I ought to be doing.

Not that they are bad stories.  There's potential there.  Potential that the sprites whisper I probably won't realize.  They can shove it.

This urge to write something new is simply avoidance of the hard work ahead, and I know it.  Short story explorations are safer, and easier than tackling something bigger, like the one I really want to write (currently under the working title "Construption") (yes that is spelled correctly, and no it isn't a real word).

I need to go back and reread a good portion of AN and then I might start feeling the vibe on that one again.  Feeling it or not, it needs to be written.  It's close - close to the point where I can abandon it to the wilds of others and see what returns.  Close to being able to tackle something else.

Basically, [insert motivational poster here].

09 June 2016

Emotional Dictates

Today I am positive.  This is more difficult lately, and I frequently re-evaluate my outlook to see if I am slipping into some sort of protracted, bitter depression.  It is not someone I want to be and I worry that my age, my views on success and my current position in life are all poised to send me to that place.  I suppose it is also because I am reconsidering many notions about my own capabilities that I once took for granted in my youth. There are days I feel like I am just screaming into the void.  Maybe that is the lot of our existence in this hyper-information society (I want to segue right now into how our rise in communication ability and access to knowledge has actually given a bizarre foothold to anti-science, anti-intelligence movements, but I am resisting).

To combat this feeling I am focusing on the exciting things that have entered my sphere.  Things like speaking with and feeling a peer to several web series pros I admire.  Or getting to screen my film at a festival and convention I have wanted to attend for years, with those people I admire.  These little blips are worth a surprising amount in payoff to all the time I sunk in the the GS project.  But enough caterwauling.  I am here to recommit to my writing goals.

In the throes of negative energy I saw/read a few things that are easing my transition back into productivity, which I shall relate here, mostly to remind myself. They are thematic.

While watching an episode of Chelsea Handler's new show, she had an amusing bit in which DJ Kahled unveiled his "keys" to financial success.  Overall it was mostly fluff, but at the end, she asked him for advice to give other artists.  His response was that you keep working at your craft, you keep pushing yourself despite failures and setbacks.  This sounds stock, but his next advice really resonated: he said that ultimately to key to success was to get up and work at your goal, regardless of how you feel.  Essentially, don't let emotion dictate your craft.

Second, an article I stumbled upon wrote about finishing projects was not a matter of passion.  Everyone has passion for something and ultimately that is unsustainable.  Passion will see you through the beginning of an undertaking, but time easily douses that flame.  What separates professionals from amateurs is working through, even when bored or uninspired or passionless.  Essentially, don't let emotions dictate your productivity.

Finally, a different article detailing how world greats have only become that way via many years of work.  It cited a study of masterworks from composers and how virtually all that have stood the test of time were only produced after ten full years of working as a composer.  It went on to point out that it isn't just hours of doing something, it is the quality of the practice as well.  You can freely put in hours that accomplish very little, but those who excel at something put in focused training, working on specific skills or details.  Essentially, don't let emotions dictate your quality of effort.

The message here is obvious.  No matter how you feel, you only become truly great at something by committing to it, even when it isn't enjoyable, when it isn't easy and when you don't feel you are getting the results you want.  Easy to say right?

I am ending this with an activity I want to attempt.  It is a simple practice from Jerry Seinfeld, who uses it in his own life.  Buy a calendar.  Everyday you do whatever it is that you want to be better at (writing), put a big X on the day.  As you continue daily to do this, you will slowly build a chain.  The only goal is to not break the chain.  I like this idea.  But I'm a visual person so it appeals to me in that sense, and I will try it.

As far as my own writing, well it's time I got back to that now.