Work, play, and somewhere in between

A box full of Full

I did finish that day-job writing I told you about the other day, but I forgot that I told you I was going to try to have fun with it. Not that it was painful or unpleasant; I just didn’t approach it in the spirit of “Wheee! I get to play!” that I try to bring to my not-day-job writing.

There can be a thrill to the idea of “writing the first draft of history,” of telling the community the important stuff you’ve learned and that they probably want or need to know.

Some days, though, especially after years of doing it — or in this case when the deadline was looming and and I knew people were waiting for my words to come out so they could get on with designing and printing pages — the thrill is not as thrilling as it once was.

And so, after the chores are done, you go off on your own and play.

And it usually does feel like playtime most of the time. I get to dig in the sand of my imagination and build sand castles or words of wisdom or whatever I like.

Of course, then there are the opposite days: Those are the days when wheee! I get to play! but I sit down at the typewriter like Tigger. Oh, bother. I have to write some more of my novel. Oh, no, I should bang out a blog post. Oh, man, I wonder if I’m ever going to write that short story or even that flash fic I was thinking about writing. Oh, woe. I’m such a doofus. I can’t even have fun with the stuff I do for fun. What a failure.

How dumb am I on those days? I mean, right?

I have little reminders posted around my computer: Have fun! Look to your zest! See to your gusto! Encourage! Entertain! Enlighten! When you have a God-given talent, you must use it all the time! Can you believe there are days I look at all those encouragements and go, “Meh”?!

Some days I am so full of words I can barely keep up with my fingers, whether they’re scrawling stuff into my journal or tapping along on a keyboard.* Then there are days I have to drag the words out of my psyche like they’re made of concrete or something heavier. I don’t understand what gets into me on those days.

Today is an in-between day. I’m almost giddy with anticipation because UPS is going to deliver a box full of Full, my latest book, and I’m overflowing with gratitude because I’ve already sold more than a box out there in the wild. This is the best reaction I’ve ever received to a new book, and I’m tickled to death (but also a little nervous because I really don’t know what I did right this time, so how am I going to do it again next time? It’s a good nervous, of course).

On the other side of the proverbial coin, these words you’re reading today have been coming out slowly. It’s more like work than play; I’m going back and adding a paragraph here and re-arranging sentences there and expanding and contracting thoughts all over. It’s not like sailing across the page like a speed skater on fresh ice. On the other hand, it’s not like pushing the horse to plow through dry, hard soil that doesn’t want to be plowed, either.

So it’s not exactly work, and it’s not exactly play. In the end, though, it feels exactly like what I was meant to do. And there’s more than a bit of comfort in that feeling.

*I’m ancient enough to remember when the expression was “banging” along on a keyboard, not “tapping,” because of the amount of force it took to get those manual typewriter keys flying hard enough to imprint ink on paper. The electric typewriter was the first step toward “tapping” along, and nowadays it’s barely a tap to make words appear. Now that’s progress. Welcome to the future, old sod.

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