On Whining

Another book I haven't readI’m still wandering around in a bewildered daze, due to leaving work today when it was still light outside. I wandered directionless around San Rafael for a little bit, probably looking like a recently-returned alien abductee. Eventually I made it back home and finally emptied the past two weeks’ worth of trash, washed the mountain of dishes in my sink, and began to take back crucial pieces of apartment territory that my cat had claimed as his own. Even more interesting than that, I just sat and stared for about a half hour, then watched two episodes of “Monk” that I’d already seen but still felt proud of myself for figuring out the case.

To paraphrase Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon movies: I’m starting to feel that my advanced years have hindered my job performance. There was a brief period back in my 20s when I could actually do an all-nighter; I don’t know if my work was actually any good, but I know I sure felt like I was being as much of a bad-ass as Indiana Jones.

Nowadays, the flesh is willing but the brain is so very weak. I’ll start looking on wikipedia for quick verification I’ve got a reference correct, and then come to my senses 45 minutes later having followed a chain of weblinks all the way to an article about how to build your own home stop-motion animation studio or something else that I couldn’t care less about normally, but suddenly seems like the best idea ever. And of course, distractions just start the cycle of unproductivity going, where perfectly reasonable schedules turn into all-nighters.

Whatever the case, I’m done with a big chunk of work now, and should be able to gradually readjust to life as a normal productive member of a society. I’ll still be wandering around confused, hairy, and bleary-eyed, but out of choice instead of cause I can’t do no better.

I’ll say this, though: this is the first job I’ve ever had where all I had to do was write. And that breeds a kind of frustration that’s unlike anything else I’ve ever tried to do: putting a ton of (excess) thought into something that ends up being so small on a page (and breezed through in 30 seconds), and watching other better-organized people have to come in and pick up the slack. I’m pleased with the end result, but I can also finally understand why you frequently hear so many people bitching and moaning about how writing is so hard and aren’t I a tortured artist because I have to sit and type words all day.

I still think it’s a pretty silly complaint, but at least I understand a little better where the complaint comes from: the fact that it seems like it should be so trivially easy bounces around the synapses and then snowballs until all you can think is “I put all that effort into this?” and then you can understand why so many real writers became alcoholics.

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