Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Difficulty with Discipline

I didn’t have any plans this afternoon. This is a rare thing for me, so I was a bit thrown off at first. Possibilities leapt into my mind like my fat cat would leap onto a can of tuna, but I just couldn’t decide what to do.

I could go shopping for various items of choice such as books, CDs and tea cozies. I could sit down, enjoy a rare blend of fairly traded tea and read a book. I could bug my friend Karen and drag her out to see a really bad action flick starring Van Damn (I know, I know, I’m outdated here). I could even throw some jellybeans from the balcony to make unsuspecting children believe jellybeans come from trees. Yet, of all of these excellent choices, not one of them felt quite right.

The problem, I realized, wasn’t with the quality of the activities (obviously), but rather with the fact that I’m writing a book. Well, I’m editing a book, and I’m supposed to be done this round of edits next weekend. The thing with writing a novel when you’re an unpublished author is that no one is breathing down your neck to get the finished product. No one cares, really. Well, except maybe your mom, who thinks you're God’s gift to mankind no matter how long it takes you to clue in that the strange noise coming from the hallway at night is not a ghost, but rather a sure sign that your cat is now fat enough to make the floorboards creak. Sigh.

So, as it turns out, I couldn’t choose an activity this afternoon because I was breathing down my own neck. I didn’t want to miss my deadline. But why bother? I mean, how bad would it be if I missed my own deadline? Not bad at all, really. My mom would still think I’m great, my brother would still believe my book’s “science” to be sketchy but acceptable, and I seriously doubt any of my friends would kick me to the curb.

The only one who would be disappointed, really, is me.

It’s the curse of the unpublished author. Before getting published, a.k.a. when nobody is anticipating a single word you write, is the time you have to be best at self-motivation, even if that means missing out on some action flicks and tea cozy shopping. Everyday, you need to care enough about your book to breathe life into its characters and add a dash of colour to its plot.

One of my favourite stories on discipline is from Natalie Goldberg. She tells of a time when she was sitting at her desk and, looking outside her window, felt truly connected with every living thing, from the flying bird to the stoic tree. When she met with her Zen teacher later that day and told him of the peace she had felt, he told her something along these lines: “Stop procrastinating and get back to writing.”

Love that.

... So I guess I’ll stop blogging and get back to Destiny’s Blood now!