The ultimate deadline
Man, I’m a terrible blogger, aren’t I? I often think about how neglected this thing is, and then I think I have nothing really to say. Which is weird, because there’s always stuff on my mind–I’m freakish about journaling, I talk to myself in my journal all day long. But I guess I generally think that what’s on my mind is unworthy of you guys. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but either way I think I need to get better about blogging–about staying in touch, even in this kind of removed way.
Yesterday we were all faced with one more horribly unfair, untimely death of a very young artist, MCA of the Beastie Boys. He was 47, according to most sources (Rolling Stone at first reported that he was 48, but the official statement said he was 47). Cancer. (FUCK CANCER.) Ridiculous. Seven years older than I am. Do you know how much–and how little–can happen in seven years?
This is on my mind all the time. The knowledge that time is SHORT is always there, sitting on my shoulder like some cartoon shoulder demon. Or shoulder angel. I’m not sure which one it is. What’s between angel and demon? Human, I guess.
My tiny Shoulder Human sits there eating chicken wings with a salad fork and goads me on, reminding me how little I’ve done in the time I’ve had so far. Sometimes that’s inspiring, sometimes it’s a source of self-loathing. Much of the time it makes me resent anything in my life that is not directly related to family and friends, or creating. Some days it makes things like earning a living or doing the dishes nearly unbearable. If this had been the last day of my life, I think more often than is probably healthy, it would have been completely wasted.
There are so many days when I can’t do much for my writing. There’s a LOT to do. I’m making my way through this stack of research books, and that takes time. I’m thinking, thinking, always thinking about the story problems that I haven’t solved yet. I’ve always been a pantser, but I’m outlining things now in an effort to become more efficient as a writer, because I always feel as if I’m running out of time.
I scroll through my bibliography, which was nonexistent two years ago, and I think It’s not enough. I plan for the rest of the year: I can get six more stories done. Two novels. A novelette. If I only have seven months left, if I only have this year, I can maybe make that list of publications a little longer. It’s not much of a legacy, but it’s something.
Mortality: the ultimate deadline.
What I should be doing is prioritizing the things that will extend that deadline: Setting up my standing desk again (taken down after injuring both ankles a few weeks before the wedding); exercising daily; eating better; drinking less; becoming more efficient in my dayjob to reduce my stress levels. Instead I resent those things, because they are taking time away from writing.
Which is not to say that I spend every spare moment writing. I don’t. I’m often too burned out, too stressed out, or just plain stuck on whatever I’m working on. Then the sense of urgency turns into panic.
Back to the subject of being a terrible blogger: I’m bad at knowing how to wrap up blog posts. Like this one. I have no answers. I’d love to end it by saying I will now go for a walk and then write like the wind for an hour before spending an evening of quality time with my family, and make every minute count.
But that’s probably not what’s going to happen. Maybe, but probably not. And if I run out of time, it’ll be my own fault.
2 thoughts on “The ultimate deadline”
Yeah, I hear you completely. I’m pretty young — 22, almost 23 — and even I experience anxiety about mortality, time management, and the desire to write more all the time.
I think creativity comes in spurts sometimes, but there’s obviously also a big discipline component to this thing.
But for me, I think this anxiety comes from the fact that I constantly compare my progress (generally measured in terms of number of sales and my age at the time) to other writers’.
I see folks like Ken Liu, Stephen King, and Cat Valente blazing through page after page, making sale after sale on an almost daily basis, and my poor time management, depressive tendencies, and obligations to school make me cringe with — as you described it — self-loathing.
Still looking for the answer, but I think the key may be to try and become a healthier, happier person; I’ve been overweight since I got an emotionally draining job as a bank teller and schoolwork has me stressed beyond description. Thankfully I’ll be graduating in two weeks, but I can’t kid myself that college is the sole source of my problems.
Best of luck to you, and be sure to find solace in past successes as well as the inevitable future ones. Sales to Daily SF, Fireside, and Year’s Best SF&F are feats to be proud of; and there will be more.
(It’s too bad about the Beastie Boys’ loss of a core member. They kick serious ass. Always have, and probably will continue to in his absence.)
It’s nice to see that someone else feels the same way. If only I had a maid to do the chores, so I had more time to spend with the family and write.
Where can we get patrons to take care of the boring stuff?
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