Sunday, February 5, 2012

Work begins at home.

I threatened death by shovel to anyone who dared suggest that I would be bored if I left the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom, so I wish to make this known:  I’m not bored.

Did you buy it?

Well, you should, because I’m not actually bored.  Boredom is a personal failure, and not something anyone should brag about or admit to.  If you can’t find something interesting in any aspect of the magnificence of creation, that’s a you problem.  It hasn't been my problem so far--I've had lots to amuse me last week.  Aimlessness is my problem.  

The hardest part about being productive is figuring out what not to do with my time.  I love to buy productivity books,* but they never really help me accomplish everything I’d like to because I’d like to do too many things.  When I don’t narrow down interests, I get overwhelmed, avoid tasks out of guilt, and then end up under-accomplishing.  I thought it would be easier to get things done when I didn’t have work/commute sucking up 50-60 hours a week, but it seems harder now.  Because I've been having such a good time, the days are flying by.  

And it’s gross.  Unproductive self-indulgence gets kind of repulsive.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow talks about the difference between pleasure and enjoyment:
The optimal state of inner experience is one in which there is order in consciousness.  This happens when psychic energy—or attention—is invested in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunities for action.  The pursuit of a goal brings order in awareness because a person must concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else.  These periods of struggling to overcome challenges are what people find to be the most enjoyable times of their lives. 
The difference between pleasure and fulfillment lies in having discrete goals around which to organize the self.  So on Saturday I started over on my book. 

I've got some figuring out to do on my other goals, and some ramping up to do, activity-wise, but I'm happy with my meager progress this weekend.  I've nailed down the year and location, and one of my main characters has discovered some goals for himself.**  I initially set my novel at the end of the Regency period, because the overall prosperity and lack of conflict in the time/location/class lets you focus on more personal stories.  But I seem to have lost my appetite for decadent frivolity.


*My favorite time and place to actually to read productivity books is to get a sitter on a weekend afternoon, send B somewhere, and curl up in bed to read for hours while ignoring the housework.  The languid satisfaction is almost as good as the smug illicit thrill I get from reading diet books while eating nachos.  

**1744.  Derbyshire.  And my hero is quite probably an arms dealer supplying the Jacobite rebels.  What can I say?  It's a love story. 

***If you have any recommendations for research references, email me.


  1. Twin.

    I also started with the Regency and decided to back it up (although further: I write in an very alternate history that is more Restoration England).

    I've been stockpiling books on eighteenth century social upheaval in Britain and various political movements. We should totally chat sometime soon.

  2. Surely you mean charity begins at home.

    You started over on your book … how long (are)were you into it? Did--do you--use an outline? Are you going to publish the result?


  3. @AAL
    We should! Very interested in what you're working on, your process.

    I should have meant that.

    Started over about 75K words into the third draft. Stopped working in October 2011. If I leave it alone for 2 months+, I start over from the beginning. Draft 1 was 10K, draft 2 was about 45K. Do I outline? Oh yes. One time I did this weird outline thing with notecards, and it was horrible, and we don't talk about that anymore.

    I am going to try to get it published, and self-publish if I can't. I have a particular dream publisher in mind. We'll see. That's probably a year or more off though.

  4. Do you use writing software or a plain word processor?

  5. Minimalist word processor- Q10 or a pen.