Plenty of Time When You Think About It

Back in the third post of this here new blog (which, on many levels, was actually the first post of this here new blog), I laid out my next decade of accomplishments. Ten years might seem like a long time. But it’s not. I know this for a fact because the last ten years went by as fast as . . . uh . . . well, as fast as something that goes by fast. And let me tell you, that’s fast.

But I’m not here to rehash old blog posts. At least not yet. No, I’m here to call out a quote from astute reader Martha Tingle. She left this particular comment, not because of how awesome my ten-year-plan was, but because I spent the requisite percentage of each blog post in self-deprecation mode. She wrote:

Charlie – I have known you for 50 years. I think you are a procrastinator. While I am not, it doesn’t mean that my “plans” have come to fruition any more than yours. I think most of us are just winging it through life and I don’t think things happen for a reason. They just happen, taking us down a path we never envisioned.

First of all, I don’t know what she means by that “50 years” thing. I’m only thirty-six. But after that, she used the word procrastinator. When I hear that word, what immediately leaps to mind is the person lazing about on the couch in front of the television for months on end while the lawn grows to a height of two or more yards. And that is most certainly not me. (I only wait until the grass is thirty inches tall before putting down the remote.)

I immediately made up my mind to make procrastination the topic of the very next blog post, but something came up that week. So I pushed it out another week, but got busy on something else. My point, however, remains: procrastination is (to me) synonymous with laziness and I’m definitely not lazy. Every waking hour (plus a good portion of my sleeping hours) is dedicated to some facet of productivity. I simply can’t not be producing.

But then the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t help but think she was absolutely spot-on correct. Because, let’s face it: if I wasn’t procrastinating, I would’ve written five or maybe even ten books by now. For real.

To help reconcile all this, I had to look up the definition of procrastination. Wikipedia told me:

Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. […] Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt.

Well, if that isn’t absolutely spot-on, I don’t know what is. BUT, I do want to address one key part: the part that says, “more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones.” Because as I look back over the last two decades, I can make a pretty good list of what kept me from getting any of these stupid novels written:

  1. The day job.

I work a lot. Not like, “Oh, I’m a workaholic so I don’t know what else to do with my life.” But because I’m an empathetic person who’s ended up in a series of jobs where unreasonable demands have been placed on me and I feel compelled to meet them.” It goes like this:

“Charlie, can you do this project?” asks the company.

“Why yes! That’s exactly why I’m here,” I reply.

“So, can you do it in three months?” they ask.

“Uh, sure. That seems reasonable. Might be tight, but if it’s Good for the Company, I’ll get it done for you,” I say.

“How about two months?”

“Um, no. Three months was tight. Two would be quite impossible,” I state.

This is the point where they look at me with big, dewy eyes, altogether reminiscent of Puss-in-boots from Shrek.

“Well, uh, okay. Two months,” I concede.

One week later.

“The business has decided it would be best if this is ready next week,” says the company.

“But we still have seven more weeks of work left,” I object. “Eleven, going off my original schedule.”

“But we need this. If we don’t have this project done next week, our competition will start killing puppies. This is the only way to prevent such a tragedy!”

“Okay, I guess I can work one hundred and fifty hours this week. I wasn’t doing anything else anyway.”

And so, with such unreasonable demands constantly being heaped upon someone born with a brain defect that never lets him say “no” to anything, I take exception to anyone describing this situation as doing “more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones.” Because just between you and me, there is nothing pleasurable whatsoever about a one hundred and fifty hour work week. (Yet there is a great deal pleasurable about writing.)

At this point, I could end this post with a “so there!” But there’s another issue bothering me. In all that time and with all of those long, long work hours, I’ve managed to:

  • Run my own video production business.
  • Write eight editions of two different video editing books.
  • Compose and record some music. Not a lot, but not zero.
  • Start my own publishing company.
  • Write my diet book.
  • Mothball my own publishing company.
  • Generate some three hundred thousands words of blog posts.
  • Work on home maintenance, improvements, bills and finances.
  • And simply be part of my family (and ALL that that implies).

At the end of the day? Well, heck. I’ve had plenty of time to finish at least one novel, but I’ve spent that time on other stuff. And that’s okay.

But before I finally really and truly wrap up this post, there’s one more thing. What I left out of that list (and what’s easy to forget) is that I’ve written at least another couple hundred thousand words across all my novels-in-progress. So it’s not like I’ve done nothing but dream about writing “someday.” And that doesn’t even take into account the time spent on backstory, geography, linguistics, culture, genealogy, and the piles and piles of other things that make a story feel real.

One of the things I fully intended to do with this here new blog is to share some of that. After all, just because I don’t finish something doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth sharing. And it’s high time I do that.

So tune in next week for some awesome excerpts from a work in progress. I’ve got plenty of time to make up something between now and then.

2 Comments for “Plenty of Time When You Think About It”

says:

Oooh, excerpts! I’m looking forward to that!

I, too, was raised to equate procrastination with laziness, and I like that you differentiated them here.

says:

I agree Charlie – procrastination = lazy in my book too, and having spent 11 days in a row with you, I know that you didn’t spend all that time watching old episodes of Friends!

Can’t wait until next Friday!!

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