It is sometimes difficult to figure which end of a skunk is up.
The other night I went to retrieve Hobkin for purposes of cuddling. In the shadows under the hutch and me without corrective eye wear, I had a moment’s confusion, unsure which end of the snoozing fur lump truncated in a nose and which a tail. Making what I thought was an accurate determination, I bundled Hobkin in my arms and carted him off.
fosteronfilm came in, and I squinted and commented offhandedly: “Wasn’t sure which end of Hobkin was which.”
Since I am myopic unto blind without my glasses, I couldn’t see his expression, but the tone of his voice was expressive. He replied, “Still haven’t worked it out, I see.”
Seems I was lugging a groggy and very perplexed skunk around head down. Of course, I righted him as soon as I realized, but he was miffed and wide awake by that time (usually I can carry him from the hutch to the chaise without waking him, and he just nestles in my arms). He glared at me and rightly decided he didn’t want to snuggle with the crazy lady; he scampered back to the hutch in a huff.
On the non-upside down skunk front, our friend, Chris-from-Tennessee, came a’visiting over the weekend. He’s a Biology professor specializing in Ichthyological paleontology, and he’s conducting a summer seminar in Mexico. He drove to Chez Foster a couple days before his flight from Hartsfield-Jackson so we could hang out and catch up. It was a nice diversion from nose-to-the-keyboard, and he’s got a toddler daughter who I love hearing about. Chris’s wife is from China, and she speaks Mandarin to their daughter while he speaks English to her. I’m fascinated by the linguistic progress of an emergent bilingual child.
Been mulling my recent lack of fiction progress. The hamsters have been most troublesome even though I’ve slung away some of the bitier ones. And it occurred to me, as in bolt-out-of-the-blue smack-me-in-the face occurred to me, that I’ve been undermining the intrinsic motivation of my writing by pairing it too closely with financial reward.
There’s heaps of psychological studies that show how both creativity and interest decline whenever something once done for the pure joy of it is set on a reward schedule. As soon as gain becomes the driving purpose behind creative expression, enjoyment evaporates, and art becomes work–to the detriment of art and artist.
While I am indeed a working writer, struggling to pay the bills and all, there’s got to be a way to achieve a balance here. Yes, they’re linked in reality, but I need to isolate the money-making from the creative part on an emotional level. Already, I’m finding myself thinking along the lines of “these 300 words of website content that I’m ghostwriting will get me such-and-such amount, while I’ll be lucky if these 300 words of fiction–more grueling and draining to produce–will get me a fraction of that if I’m lucky.” And so I’m ending up cranking out the money-words and neglecting my fiction.
But how? Hrm. I need to implement a new reward structure, I think. So here’s what I came up with: From now on, fiction writing is no longer “work.” It is the reward for making progress on my freelance gigs, which are “work.” If I finish a reasonable daily quota of “work” I’m free to indulge my muse.
Well, the theory sounds good. ‘Course the true test is whether my restructuring results in any fiction productivity gains. Will revisit this as needed.
Man, when I unearthed my repressed psychologist, she went amok. Beware berserk psychology researcher . . .
– 600 on the freelance gig.
– 1K on the resuscitated Swan Lake story. Hurray, fiction!
– Check from Faeries for “Returning My Sister’s Face.” In Euros. I anticipate wacky fun when I go to deposit it. I wonder how much my bank will try to shaft me for. Oh well, it can’t possibly be worse than their foreign wire transfer fee.