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Summer Snares: Setting Creative Priorities

I have a lot of balls in the air right now.

Grad School Bug is almost but not quite dead, but I’ve written this 20-some page paper on Diana Wynne Jones that I want to try to edit and publish. Unfortunately,  I can’t motivate myself to work on it anymore now that it’s preliminarily done.

Evernost is alive and kicking, but I’m having a hard time motivating myself there too.

A science fiction novel set in nanotopia (nano-utopia, not nano-dystopia), where the futurists’ dreams come true and things are awesome for lots of people but not everyone, is attracting me and eating most of my attention (heroine is a simulation-writing pop star, POV characters are two Luddite fundamentalist Christian kids whom she’s attempting to take care of; it is, possibly, a wickedly inverted version of George MacDonald’s The Wise Woman.)

I also have a bunch of other projects floating around, ranging from teach a local class on making chapbooks to publish a selection of Anna Prismanova’s poetry in English with commentaries.

I find myself a lot less happy when I am not actively working toward a concrete and achievable goal.

Evernost is awesome but does not do this for me except when I can bite off manageable chunks of it, and sometimes not even then because my standards are paralyzingly high for it. Ideally, I sometimes think, I would chuck everything and work on Evernost. But there are so many other exciting ideas this is something I cannot make myself do, and it feels like it would be a loss if I did.

So I made a spreadsheet listing projects, where I am on them, and in what order of priority I want to attack them.

What came out is that I want to work on Nanotopia, the DWJ article, and Evernost (in particular, March and a chapbook based on a chunk of writing about the Tree of Life I painted) first:

  1. I want to do a writing marathon with Nanotopia the way I did with Evernost the Normal Novel and see if I can crank out an 80,000-word novel about the pop star and the kids in a month and a half.
  2. Because the DWJ article is such a pain, I want to work on it for 30 minutes a day on my days off.
  3. I want to work on the March chunk of Evernost for an hour a day until I’m too sick of it, and then I’ll move on to April.
  4. I want to start formatting and illustrating the chapbook when I’m too fried to do anything verbal.

I am not good at making myself do things for long periods of time (one of the reasons Grad School Bug is probably silly). The chances that I will be able to hold myself to this schedule are slim, let alone continue down the spreadsheet neatly in order of priority the way I imagined I might. And yet, and yet, if I didn’t at least try to get organized, I’d never accomplish anything at all.

The most salient problem in my mind right now is choosing among awesome projects, but of course when projects are chosen there is the problem of making art the best you can. In this spirit, I offer an acrostic about the quest to achieve the ideal—any ideal, though I think I had artistic perfection in mind in particular when I wrote it. It is too simple, straight-laced, and misleadingly linear; the word congeal is not good, and there are too many in’s; I am sure there are no shortage of other criticisms to be had, but I enjoyed it and hope you may too.

Step sharp upon the rough and rising stone
To seek the point where hopes and fears congeal
Above the grassy slope in realms unknown
In shapes far clearer than the merely real.
Remember, though, before you climb too high,
What savage and unending task you dare:
As each step takes you closer to the sky,
You find another bars your entry there.

Also, as you can see from the image here, I’ve colored in my black and white chapbook. Yay!


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