379. On the Balance Track

So my head is a little bit less of a mess today … I guess it’s true (or so I’ve read somewhere) that taking a vacation can be very stressful for people who are used to work a lot.

However, this isn’t exactly a vacation, so maybe that’s just a BS-thought I need to put somewhere and get on with it. I’m still alone home and have a rather long list of tasks, consisting of 3 major groups:

  1. Practical day-to-day stuff that was postponed, because not enough time – such as X-mas shopping and laundry
  2. Bigger but-not-so-sexy projects that was also postponed – like getting that home office in order, cleaned up, cleared up, set up etc. etc.
  3. Self-realization-stuff that was also postponed – such as catching up on blogging and maybe drawing a little.

And as you know, if you read the few recent posts, I have decided to be boring and do 1 and then 2 and then maybe a bit of 3.

All the while fretting a little bit – okay, maybe more than a little bit – about those priorities; if they were really what I wanted, all things considered.

Well, today I’m just doing it. Fretting a little bit. Bitching a little bit to myself. Then telling myself I should be grateful for all the things I have to be grateful for – and then getting on with the list. Boring but necessary stuff first.

Damn, I hate being so rational. I mean the end of my little first-world-stress fit yesterday, about how to use that dump of spare-time, should’ve been to say ‘screw it all – I’ll spend the next 5 days drawing and then be happy’.

Problem is, I know I won’t be. Even if I only do 70 per cent of the clean up in the boxes and piles and stashes and cord-knots around my desk here at home – even if I only do that …  even if I don’t get to work much at home anyway until Jay is in daycare – even if that is the case …

… it’s going to feel so good getting things in order. It’s going to give me a lot of energy. And I need energy. Because I don’t have much time and even less money.

There’s another thing that I need to order.

I need to order my memory.

One reason I repeat mistakes is that I don’t take past lessons to heart. Take art, for example …

I just found the following quotes from entry 123 on The Blog:

On the other hand, unless a truck runs over my hands or a meteor hits my eyes, I will be able to write at least 500 words per day on average. I’ve proven that already for extended periods of time. I’m proving it now with my most recent story.

So maybe 2 years could work, but what if it’s 5 – or even 10? The time is going to pass anyway, and – especially considering past failures to hang on and persist – I think my future self of 53 will thank me for having written nearly 2 million words, spread out on, say, 73 self-published short novels of about 25K words a piece.

And what if it’s only 60 – or even 50?

Unless something really, really bad happens, I could do this, if I persist.

And no matter what the hell the market looks like in 2027 I could earn something in the league of thousands. And that will be nice, both for my personal satisfaction, for feeling passionate about life and for relief when the shit hits the fan in other areas of life.

And this one from no. 104:

I have to tell stories to feel alive, it is that simple, and I know it and I am deeply regretful about the periods when I have forgotten it, for all sorts of ‘good reasons’. Or when I have doubted my ability to do it, to ever bring my storytelling out into the world in any meaningful form and therefore have stalled.

I have to keep fighting that and so the only way that makes sense is to do it one fight at a time, a few hundred words here and there – but regularly. Please let me not forget.

And this one from entry no. 19

It is remarkable that – aside from a purposeful, hopeful vision of how to contribute to the world – the simple act of telling a moving story makes me feel alive again. No veggies or weight-lifting required.

Now, there are two takeaways here:

  1. I can produce a damn lot of fiction with very little time each day, if I do it consistently – and use it for commercial purposes or not. But at least I have produced content, which is the first condition. It is NOT difficult, even with Jay and webdesign and all the rest. It just needs me to take the long view.
  2. I need to tell stories first and foremost because it makes me feel alive. 

The last bit is important – it is that undefinable fantastic energy I can get, even on a day like this, from just sitting down and writing or drawing for 30 minutes. Not for fame. Not for fortune. Not even to change the world for the better (purpose). Just for me.

So what this means is that I will see if I can hit my 500 words a day-streak again on Hammer and Magic – even without using the time I have set aside for The Blog.

I will still use the bits I write as topical material for a blog entry, for example blogging about why I wrote this or how I got inspired by that. So I will still save time in that way. And for blogging I will still, mainly, cannibalize work-hours outside of the house, which otherwise should have been used to do webdesign. At least as far as I can without feeling too irresponsible.

But heck – we are talking about 2-3 hours per week, max. So I guess even out of the 20 work hours I may have on a good week it is okay.

If there are clients, maybe not. If there are not so many clients those hours might still not be put to better use elsewhere, since there is a limited number of marketing channels I can currently use to pitch.

I could use more time to create content for content marketing, though, but that feels too stressful under the current limitations. I will wait until April and daycare and then just concentrate on pitches and doing client work whenever those pitches yield results. At least that’s what sounds like a good plan. For now.

Wow … what an aside. But everything is connected, isn’t it?

Anyway, I will try to go for 500 words again per day – in fiction. With the little spare time I do have, at home or when I am at the library for example and have webdesign work and, as mentioned, blogging to prioritize as well. It’ll only be about 15 minutes.

Then about drawing …

The small breaks I do have during a day at home, which – overall – may amount to about an hour in total … they can be used for drawing bits. Doodling. Delving. And if I don’t feel like that then watch videos about drawing, especially after normal work-time is over. Try to get my mindset into a creative mode, despite all the distractions, after 4 PM.

I feel it is unrealistic to do comic book pages as a whole and maybe I am not even that interested in that – right now at least. Since Hammer and Magic is an illustrated story first and foremost, I think I should just … accept that and then do illustrations, 1-page, for each chapter – or for as many chapters as possible.

Maybe it will take me a month to do an illustration for one chapter, in this way. And I will have written 3 or 4 chapters – with those 500 words per day. Or whatever.

But I don’t see that there are many other combinations that will work, given all of these priorities.

So to sum up:

  1. Money-work as many hours per week as possible
  2. Take about 10 per cent of those hours to Blog – away from the apartment and from distractions of family, chores, etc.
  3. Use spare time (about 1 hour overall every day) when at home to either watch videos about webdesign (until 4 PM mainly) or art (after 4 PM mainly) – or –
  4. Use that time (mainly after 4 PM) to draw a little bit, and then another little bit – on 1 page illustrations for chapters in Hammer and Magic
  5. And then squeeze in 15 minutes for those 500 words per day.

That sound’s like a neat plan. Char and Jay will be home Friday, then we are going to my parents’ for X-mas and then after New Year I can implement it for real.

And we will see if it survives contact with the enemy.

I truly believe enough of it will. Otherwise I will adjust.

I feel I am track for some balance, finally, and despite everything.