Month: October 2013

The State of the Thing

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There were a number of reasons that I started to keep this blog:

  1. To practice this writing thing as often as possible; to give me an outlet where I didn’t need to concentrate on characterisation or plots.
  2. To record and document my progress towards getting published, as a history for me and any other aspiring author.
  3. To motivate myself by transforming each rejection from a personal slight into a mere statistic.

Recently, I’ve been busy.

“That’s no excuse. Writers write. You can’t publish a blank sheet of paper.”

I know. I know. I know.

But I have been busy. And I’ve still been fairly productive in the writing department, so shut your face.

I’ve now had a soul destroying 29 rejections for “The Clockwork Butterfly” and 3 submissions have timed out following an email asking me to assume the worst after a period of time. The last rejection I got was 10 days ago and so I’m beginning to assume the worst for the rest of them as well seeing as though the longest one has been out there for 91 days now…

The status of submissions for "The Clockwork Butterfly". Notice how much procrastination has been involved automatically working out the little subtables and graph at the bottom...
The status of submissions for “The Clockwork Butterfly”. Notice how much procrastination has been involved automatically working out the little subtables and graph at the bottom…

Still. Nevermind. I’ve almost got Charlie’s Worries to a point where I can start submitting it, so I’ll be able to go through the whole heart rending process again.  (It really helps that it’s only about 30,000 words long, rather than 150,000)

I entered Hot Key Unlocked and managed to write about 2,000 relevant words, following the brief laid out by the rules of the competition. Although I’d been thinking a lot about the plot I only put fingers to keyboard on the Sunday it had to be submitted. Of course, I knew I wouldn’t win. I’ve never written anything sexy or spicy before and found it hard to find the balance I wanted. In the end, though, I was pleased with what I produced and as the days went by I’d fooled myself into thinking that I might win.

I didn’t.

And I was disproportionately disappointed by this. After a day or so, after realising that I’d actually entered it to test my focus, rather than become the new Barbara Cartland (or more probably Dame Sally Markham) , I got things back into perspective and saw it for what it was: a good exercise and excellent writing practice.

Next up is NaNoWriMo  and I’ve got a nicely absurd idea for this. I need to remember that this is another exercise to work my writing muscle and not necessarily an attempt to create a novel fit for publication. I want to try and have fun with it.

So, by the end of November I should be ready to start my next project “The Motley Life of Edison Swift”

I am the Lord of Procrastination

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Yesterday I started the day off well. I took my daughter shopping (to buy some false nails), played some social squash with my friends, took the same daughter to her Dance class and wrote nearly 1,000 words of “Charlie’s Worries”. All before lunch.

And I was feeling very positive about duplicating this attitude in the afternoon. I had plenty to do. I had to deliver my daughter to her sleepover (where she could show off her new nails); I had to type up my recently written words; book all the squash courts for the forthcoming season; sort out our finances in preparation for a house move. A sensible number of jobs and quite achievable for the allotted time. I might, I thought foolishly, get some more words of “Charlie’s Worries” written, too.

After lunch I took my over-excited, beautifully nailed daughter to her sleepover and then the wheels of my endeavour fell off. I’d made a tiny, but fundamental, error. I recognise it, and that’s part of what makes me a world class procrastinator.

While we’d eaten our lunch, we’d watched an episode of “Friends” on Comedy Central. Over the weekend they show about eight episodes, back to back.

Thanks very much, Comedy Central.

For a normal person, that wouldn’t be a problem. Half an hour of television doesn’t do any one any harm, no matter how many times the Daily Mail tells you it gives you cancer.

So, after I got in from dropping my daughter off, I started to make a cup of tea, in preparation for all my good work of the afternoon. And while the tea was brewing I just thought I’d watch a couple of minutes of “Friends”…

And that was it. That innocuous decision turned the rest of the afternoon into a whirlwind of dalliance.

Now, a highly ranked amateur procrastinator could spend four hours watching all eight episodes if they were training for the Procrastination event at the Olympics. (Although for obvious reasons procrastination will never get into the Olympics – but the Council of Procrastination would have devised the best and most complicated scoring system known to humanity)

I went well beyond this. As I’ve mentioned before, I know when I’m procrastinating and always feebly strive to not do it. After about ten minutes of watching, I determinedly switched the television off.

“So, you stopped procrastinating after only ten minutes?” You complain. “That’s barely procrastination at all. You have us here under false pretences.”

Ah, so naive! I, too, thought for a moment that I’d beaten my demons.

As I walked through the hallway, on the way to the study, my hand reached out, involuntarily, and plucked a set of “Friends” DVDs from the shelf. So when I got to my desk, I found myself staring at the computer, ready to work, with 24 episodes piled next to me.

If I’d put those on and watched them all, that would have promoted me to the big leagues. A procrastinator par excellence. Someone who can take the opportunity to waste four hours and turn that opportunity into twelve hours of idleness. Although, in my mind, I was congratulating myself on the fact that I wouldn’t sit through any adverts, therefore SAVING TIME!!!

But no. I didn’t do that. You see, the DVD player on my laptop is broken. It doesn’t play DVDs any more. And I can’t watch them on my main computer because that’s where I’ll be doing all my work. I need to watch them full screen. On that laptop.

Hang on a moment. I have a spare DVD player. It’s in that laptop over there which is broken. It won’t take long to swap them over. Change the plastic facing that makes it fit into the slot. Trawl through the Internet for the drivers for the slightly different make of DVD player which I thought I wouldn’t need to do because they’re all generic. Decide that it’s about time I removed all the unused programs on the laptop, especially the ones that access the DVD drive. Install a new version of iTunes and set it away refreshing my music library which needed to be organised slightly better because sometimes I’d got “Black Eyed Peas” instead of “The Black Eyed Peas”

So now, tomorrow, I still haven’t typed up yesterday’s work, booked the courts or arranged our finances.

And now I’ve written this post…

Therefore I do declare that I am the Lord of Procrastination.

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