Friday, January 25, 2008

The pain of discipline, by Kim

No, this isn't about S&M, though it sort of feels like it.

Actually, I've been realizing that my work ethic has suffered since I had my second kid 11 months ago. Yeah, yeah, okay -- I had to raise him and nurse him and being a mom is a fulltime job and all that. I'll bite. But the fact remains: I want to be a writer. Writers write. Nobody in publishing cares if I haven't slept more than five hours straight in 12 months. They don't care if I was dealing with impetigo, mastitis, pinworm and rotavirus (don't worry -- not simultaneously). It doesn't matter to them that I have to consume three cups of black tea just to put on my (quite possibly soiled) underwear, or that the babysitter makes more bank than I do. No. They don't give a rat's ass about any of that.

What they care about: Did I write a good (okay, sellable) book, and did I do it on time?

Thus the headline.

I used to be really fucking disciplined. Annoyingly so. Sure, I would laugh with everyone else when they started bemoaning their deadlines, but inside I was like, What's wrong with these people? Do they really think rotting on a beach with a mai tai is better than hunching over a laptop for twelve hours in a cafe filled with pretentious hipsters in skinny jeans? Nuts!

Of course, discipline came easily to me mainly because of one thing: not working seems to give me panic attacks and bouts of self-loathing paranoia. So, really, working is a pretty easy choice.


So, back to the kid and how it's ruined my great discipline. I just don't have the stamina for those long, glorious sessions anymore. I don't have the focus. Sense of humor is somewhat intact, but the smarts? Fuuuck. Can't remember my name, let alone a $100 word.

The question: how to get it back?

I think I know. Lately, I've been toying with going back to basics. How did I finish my first book, when I still had a day job? I'll tell you: I became a miserable, obsessed, ritualistic hermit! It was bliss, I tell you, bliss! I did the exact same thing every day for one year: woke up at the buttcrack, sat down at the computer in PJs, drank green tea, took a pee, wrote for 1-2 hours, depending on whether my hair was forming dreadlocks and needed washing. The key, I think, was the non-negotiability of it all; it was simply so, like brushing your teeth.

My mantra? NO DAYS OFF, BITCH. And I'll stick to it. And never have a kid again.

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